The recent excommunication degree is no new news around this blog. I’m not so interested in debating the ordination of women and excommunication; we’ve already done that. But I do want to talk about how it affected me. Not how it affected me as a woman who feels called to the diaconate. Not as someone who has advocated for women’s ordination and knows some of these amazing female priests. But how it affected me as Lauren. A woman born and raised Catholic who has a great love for the Church and its people, and an intense bond with all that it is (and all that I hope it will be). A Catholic woman whose church leaders, without missing a beat, took care of this little problem when it took years for them to respond to pedophilia, for example. A Catholic woman whose church leaders just said it’s better to be a pedophile, etc. than to be a woman answering her call from God. (I’m putting words in their mouth, I know, but I’ll get to my point).
I learned about a beautiful church that I fell in love with. A church that is yet to be, but will come through the amazing teachings we have but have been kept in the books so far. I keep asking myself if at some point hope is just naive? Do I just fear change? Or fear my deeply devout grandma? Do I fear not finding any religious or spiritual tradition that comes close to what I have now? Yes, Yes, Hell yes, and Yes.
The thought of leaving my church family is sad. It is so much a part of my identity that it would be like telling me to stop being an Ivory. It would be like many Amish youth who decide to leave their faith communities, only to lose their families as well who are not supposed to speak to them after that. How do you go out into the world as an orphan, especially when you know you’re not? How does a father not speak to his daughter? A daughter he raised, loved, taught, formed, and was (is) proud of?
There are those who would love for me and others to just leave but I don’t understand that. They would handicap their selves, sacrifice an arm of the body of Christ for not complying. Rather than work on our differences and find places to incorporate everyone, we are told if we don’t like it, tough. I don’t understand how one group can claim ownership of something like our Church.
So I ask, why should I stay? I’m not wanted and I’m not happy. And I don’t want the rest of my spiritual life to be about conflict; I’ve already got that with my biological family and don’t want it in my religious family too. Furthermore, I have been asking myself for a few years if I am even called to function in my church that way, as someone who challenges from within.
The long and the short of it for me is that I’m Catholic, and probably always will be somehow. We don’t have the ethnicity tie that those in the Jewish faith often have, but it is still in our bones. So I ask, can a fish be anything but a fish? (I know, someone wants to say, “but women aren’t fish, only men can be fish!”).
Go tell them I am what I am. They’ll recognize that from somewhere.