What Makes Someone Catholic Enough?

Old Men in Skirts and Womens Health

Last week, I did an interview with a reporter about why I believe the Catholic Church should allow “artificial” contraception, or perhaps even better, just stay out of the contraception discussion altogether. I dream of a world where the Church presents all the facts that might be relevant to Catholics making a moral decision, and then leaves that decision up to them.

In my interview, I cited marriage research that says more sex equals happier marriages, and that relying on NFP alone can lead to unnecessary and unhealthy sexual tension and resentment. I talked about framing the primary benefit of sex being its ability to cement a relationship and improve bonding rather than procreation, and how “unnatural” (not to mention somewhat cruel) it is to expect women to forgo sex when they want it most (during their fertile window) month after month after month, year after year after year, if a couple does not want to have children. And then I cited research about how “unwanted” (what a horrible word) and “mistimed” children suffer throughout their lives in contrast to their “wanted” counterparts.

I thought I’d made a pretty good showing. He asked some demographic questions, like my age, and how long I’d been married, and whether my husband was also Catholic.

Then he asked if I currently belonged to a Catholic parish.

I told him that I had throughout my life, until I moved to South Dakota, where my husband and I visited every Catholic church in town and found none of them to be a good fit, and then became members of a UCC church.

Suddenly, I felt like all my credibility vanished.

That I was not “Catholic enough” to be the sort of source this reporter wanted.

After I hung up the phone, I thought about calling him back and crying, “But I pray the rosary every night. It doesn’t get much more Catholic than that!”

Still, I felt as though I had just been found out as an impostor.

Which is ironic, because that is at the heart of why I don’t belong to a Catholic parish anymore.

Because I’ve spent years feeling like a bit of a Catholic “impostor” as so many of my personal beliefs went against the grain — as a child my developing feminist sensibilities were the main source of tension; as a single woman it was my bisexual orientation; and as a married woman it’s teachings on contraception.

I have been at odds with the church over these three things for as long as I can remember. I disagreed with the church’s teaching on sexual orientation before I discovered my own, and I disagreed with its teaching on contraception before I was sexually active.

But as I moved into each of these roles, as each of them came to live within my own body and heart and soul, it stopped being theoretical and became personal.

I am a feminist, bisexual, married woman who uses “artificial” contraception in conjunction with NFP methods.

The Catholic church honors none of these facets.

At my new church, I keep none of these things secret. Including my history with the Catholic church and my rosary habits.

So perhaps I am not “Catholic enough” to give this reporter just the kind of source he wanted. But for the first time in my life, I finally feel “me” enough.

It’s an acceptable trade-off.

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This entry was posted in Sex & Sexuality, Spirituality by Lacey Louwagie. Bookmark the permalink.

About Lacey Louwagie

I'm a feminist, a writer, an editor, and a seeker. I co-edited "Hungering and Thirsting for Justice: Real-Life Stories by Young Adult Catholics" (ACTA 2012) and authored "Where I First Met God" in "Unruly Catholic Women Writers II" (SUNY Press 2013). You can learn more about me at www.laceylouwagie.com.

One thought on “What Makes Someone Catholic Enough?

  1. Lacey – I’m totally with you – as is my husband, both of us raised Catholic. And it’s why we didn’t raise our children Catholic and hope our grandchildren won’t be raised Catholic. It’s a great loss to us personally as we were devout as children. But we’re not willing to accept the Catholic hierarchy’s deep-rooted unjust treatment of girls & women. I hope that with more voices like yours speaking up, the hierarchy will eventually see and completely disavow its gender injustice.

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