Posted by: Thomas Richard | March 9, 2010

Former Catholics and Anti-Catholic Fervor

The Cathedral...

Many former Catholics did not leave the Church because of cool and reasoned conclusions about authentic doctrine or belief.  Many left hungry and angry, after heart-sickening confrontations with hypocrisy, carnality and/or heresy in the Church.  There is passion in the rejection of the Church in many former Catholics!  This anti-Catholic passion in new “born-again” evangelicals comes more often because of wounds to the heart – wounds and hurts within them due to the sins of the world in the Church.  The failures of men in the Church have overwhelmed them, and thus they have failed ever to see or know the holy Presence of Christ that indeed makes the Church what it is in truth.

These former Catholics are angry with the Church, in their experience, for not being the Church.  Their emotional rejection of the Church is not unlike the experience of those atheists who, as C.S. Lewis described his early atheism, “did not believe God existed. I was also very angry with him for not existing.”  There is in the heart of man a need for the true God!  But when man meets the tragedies and sufferings of this real world, he can fall into an angry rejection of any God that could allow such contradiction in the world.  Like Lewis, he can reject the very existence of God – and remain very angry with God for not existing.

So also many former Catholics had and have, in their Christian souls, a sure realization of the holiness and truth that ought to mark the true Church of Jesus Christ.  But when such a Christian meets the carnal world in the Church, the contradiction demands resolution.  The emotional resolution is nearer and easier than the one Jesus would call us to.  The emotional resolution is to reject the Church: “This cannot be the true Church of Christ!”  The response that Jesus calls us to is harder: “You are to be faithful.  Take up your Cross, and be faithful.  You must suffer for the sake of the Bride, and you are not free to cast her out of your heart.  Divorce is not an option.  As I have wept for her, you must weep for her.  As I have suffered, you must suffer.  As I am making all things new, you must work with Me looking not for ease in this world, but only for the glory in the Cross.”

And she will be renewed.

Thomas


Responses

  1. Dear Thomas,

    Thanks for the photo and insights into what keeps some from really “entering” the fullness of Truth which God gives the Catholic Church in Christ.

    The picture of a wrought iron gate suggests a barrier which can be in the hearts of many persons. There are some barriers for which others in the Church will bear responsibility. Yet we can still see the doors waiting to be opened. The doors of the Church, of course, remind us of Christ Who is the “Door”.

    It is very sad to experience separation from those who were baptized Catholics who now feel estranged. Some have been “born again” into denominations or non-denominational groups. The wounds many have suffered are real, as you point out in this blog entry.

    Those who feel so angry as to deny God’s existence, calling themselves “atheists” or to doubt Him as “agnostics” have their wounds as well. How do we respond, in love, to anyone who is angry with the Catholic Church? I think your words help us to examine our own hearts:

    “The response that Jesus calls us to is harder: ‘You are to be faithful. Take up your Cross, and be faithful. You must suffer for the sake of the Bride, and you are not free to cast her out of your heart. Divorce is not an option. As I have wept for her, you must weep for her. As I have suffered, you must suffer. As I am making all things new, you must work with Me looking not for ease in this world, but only for the glory in the Cross.’ ”

    By God’s Grace, may we be faithful and learn from Jesus to love, as He loved His Bride, on His Cross. May we weep with Him and with Mary beneath His Pierced Heart emptied for all of us.

  2. I believe that some people are just looking for an excuse to leave the Church. And, surely the scandals that have plaqued the Church over the last several years is just that excuse! Unfortunately, those people probably are not thinking that this is exactly what Satan wants. It is so easy to be led astray by Satan. He can always make the “grass” seem greener elsewhere.

    To take up our cross and be faithful is not always easy to do. I have to remind myself quite often that “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13

  3. I’m a former Catholic (I’m Josiah from CARM)….

    I LOVED the Church. The worship, the spirituality, the intergration of faith and life, the very pro-family, pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-morality in the church. And I felt very loved there. I’ve heard a LOT of criticisms of “coolness” and stuff, but frankly, I think this is often just a function that most Catholic parishes are too big, a lot bigger than most Protestant churches; big Protestant churches tend to be cold too, in my experience. Friendliness and love are kind of reflective: if you give it, it comes back. If you don’t talk to anyone, don’t get involved in anything, see who can get out of the parking lot first – then the church will feel cold and mechanical….

    MY “issue” was purely theological. I studied things – and concluded that there were DOGMAS that I concluded were either very weak, baseless and/or just irrelevant. And a couple of key ones I didn’t agree with – after much study. I was a “Cafeteria Catholic” or as our Deacon would better classify, a much worse thing, a “Protestant Hiding in the Church” since I considered the Church accountable and asked “why” instead of “what.” It got to the point where I could not “live a lie” and give “false testimony.” I could not recieve the Eucharist – I would be a lie. I could not worship regularly – I would be giving false witness. If I’m not Catholic, INTEGRITY, HONESTY required I leave. I did so slowly. With conversations with my teachers – and a formal appointment with my priest. He told me that I agreed with the Church “a whole lot more than most Catholics” but respected my point: If I’m not Catholic, what am I doing here?” My teachers, friends and some family there supported me. Sometime later, when I was formally Confirmed in the Lutheran church, one of two of my teachers (and the parents of my best friend) came to my Confirmation to support me. I still am friends with many in my old parish, and still email with teachers there. No hard feelings, on either side. When I am away on business over a weekend, I seek the closest Catholic church (even when I’m in Europe) and I’m amazed how much it still feels good. But I’m a good Lutheran rather than a bad Catholic.

    Conservative Lutherans (like conservative Anglicans) are odd ducks – often hated by all sides, too “Catholic” for the Evangelicals, too “Protestant” for the Catholics. As one Anglican staffer at a website once told me, “You’ll be everyone’s favorite target – no one considers you on their side.” LOL. Perhaps so. In some ways, I see Lutheranism as simple, traditional Catholicism (you’d call it “incomplete” – without the baseless or wrong or irrelevant stuff – from MY perspective), in some ways with the strong sense of humility and community that seems to “fit” Christianity as I see it. On the other hand, I have no ill feelings toward the Catholic Church. It is what it is. And it works for a lot of people. And it does a lot of good. Hard to knock that TOO much.

    As for your goal of reform, I think it impossible. MINOR issues of PRACTICE can perhaps be modified….slowly…. if and when the powers-that-be choose to. But nothing of significance can be changed. It would undermine the whole foundation of the church.

    Thanks for permitting me to share some thoughts. Blessings on all!

  4. Hello Josiah,

    I’m glad you posted these comments. I hope we can have a more fruitful discussion outside of the “war zone” of CARM. Because this OP is now over 2 years old, and would see very little traffic on this blog, please let me invite you over to my other blog, where I actually hope to focus on matters of disbelief with non-Catholics and even non-believers in God. The blog address is:
    http://courtofgentiles.wordpress.com/

    The post there, where I hope you would express an issue or two of Catholic doctrine that you could not accept, is this one: “Some Issues the Church is Invited to Consider.” When you get to the main page of “Court of the Gentiles”, you will quickly find the page for that particular discussion.

    Meantime, thank you again for telling me, and others who will read it, your own story up to now. Our pilgrimages have “pauses” many time in our lives – many “commas” – the only “period” we can be sure about is the one at death. At that point, our final destination is clear. In the journey of life, if we are open to His grace, He will lead us ever more deeply into His Truth and Life.

    Blessings to you, and I hope you will contribute to the other much more recent blog. Perhaps others will feel free to contribute to is as well. I welcome respectful and sincere challenges to Catholic doctrine. This is no CARM!


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