Saturday, May 25, 2002
In case the link above doesn't work (I was having some trouble with it earlier), I was sad to read that Mark Butterworth has left the Roman Catholic Church (well, perhaps it left him, but that's semantics). I was baptized Episcopalian, and while I disagree with many of the policies of the Protestant Episcopal Church USA, I've never really left them. Of all traditional church services, I still feel most comfortable with the Anglican Rite (in case you're wondering, the Episcopal Church is the American branch of the Anglican Communion, a confederation of Anglican Rite churches begun by the Church of England (hence "Anglican")). Even when I attended services at Methodist churches (Methodism is an offshoot of Anglicanism), I still considered my self both Episcopalian and Methodist. Probably the main reason I stayed Episcopalian is because while I disagreed with the Protestant Episcopal Church USA, I knew that many, even most, of the Anglican Communion was different.
Where am I going with this? I'm not entirely sure. It used to be that I was Protestant because it seemed the most American way, and thus most natural to me. I couldn't understand why anyone would be Catholic (either Roman or Orthodox) except that their parents had also been Catholic, and thus they were just doing as they were told. After all, I was and am familiar with Catholic views on morality, and when I saw people claiming to be Catholic constantly violating those views, I thought that this was further proof. Now, they certainly weren't the only ones, but then, other people I knew who did the same things didn't claim to follow a religion which opposed such things. I wasn't completely right, but I did have it partially. Many people are "historically" Catholic rather than practicing Catholic (all religions have this, by the way). They do as their parents tell them regarding their religion, and they like the community and "status" of being Catholic. However, this certainly isn't all Catholics. Through reading and talking with people like Mark Butterworth, Louder Fenn, and Chris Burgwald, I came to understand the Catholic viewpoint, and while there are portions I don't agree with, I think we have an honest disagreement. Furthermore, the things separating Protestants and Catholics aren't, at least from my perspective, things that are make-or-break. My view on the issues I disagree with is that they were instituted with good in mind, but gradually people forgot that certain things were symbolic rather than literal. I think that this can confuse people and may lead them to abandon the Truth when they see an apparent contradiction. I'm sure Protestantism has similar minefields that I'm blind to as well (if I had to say, I would guess that it Protestant churches don't encourage enough respect, while Catholic churches don't explain their position well enough and may cause people to tend towards idolatry).
Again, I'm not entirely sure what to say. Part of me wants to encourage the Roman Catholics to stick with your church, since "this too shall pass." I know there's a lot of evil in the clergy right now, but it's not in the majority. Furthermore, Catholic strength is in the laity (I consider monks, nuns, and friars to be lay as well). On the other hand, risking having your or your family's souls being corrupted is not an acceptable price to pay. I'm thankful that I'm not in a position where I have to decide, and I offer my sympathy to the Roman Catholics out there in such a trying time.