Tag Archive | Catholic Church

Top 5 Reasons I Would Suck As Pope

Years and years of Catholic education did not prepare me for this week’s announcement that the Pope was going to retire.  I had no idea that Popes were allowed to retire.  In fairness to my former Catholic educators, it hasn’t happened in 600 years so maybe that’s why we never covered “Papal Retirement” in school.

I am probably not going to be the next Pope. Or the one after that. There are probably 100 reasons why I’ll never be Pope, but we are all busy today, so I’ll give you the top 5.

Lil Ole Catholic

Lil Ole Catholic

  1. I’m no longer a practicing Catholic. I am thinking this might be a “deal breaker.”  Also, other than an abiding affection for Easter eggs and a childlike attachment to Christmas trees, I am moving in a Jewish-ish direction because of my therapist husband and his family traditions.  (Any religion that offers both fasting and deeply fried potatoes knows a little something about balance and frankly, I want in.)
  2. I disagree with church policy on homosexuality. Yes, this would be a problem too.  I wrote here about how I thought the Vatican should stop criticizing the American nuns who were too busy with social justice issues (like poverty) to advance the Church’s homophobic agenda.  If I was the Pope, I would welcome any loving couple into my fold and ask them how I could serve them.  But then I think Church law would require that I excommunicate myself.
  3. Italian food makes me bloat.  If I became Pope, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t allow me to “work from home” or call in for conference calls with the bishops and cardinals.  I’d have to move to Italy. And that’s gonna be a problem since I have been trying to cut back on my white flour and desserts.  I can see it now: I am all dressed up with the tall, pointy hat and some bishop would be seeking my counsel about the law I just decreed that abortion is a woman’s right, and then suddenly out of the corner of my eye I would see someone walking through the plaza with gelato and I’d be all “let’s support women in new and radical ways by offering her solace and comfort in the event she gets an abortion and — hey, GELATO!”
  4. I don’t object to pre-marital sex. (FN1)  Under my papal reign, that long-revered notion that there should be no sex outside of marriage would get a face life.  Actually, it would get a full-blown transplant. I would steer the church away from the dogmatic rules and shove it towards the support and affirmation of pleasure, including sexual pleasure.  I would give out condoms. To teenagers.
  5. All-male (mostly single) clergy?  How long into the job before I started calling “BULLS*T” on this?  10 minutes? On the taxi ride from the Rome airport to the Vatican?  Before passing through customs?  I know it’s a tradition, but for the love of Michelangelo’s frescos, can we all agree that isn’t working so well? The only thing that has kept the Catholic Church’s pedophilic scandals out of the news recently is because of the news from the other great American religion: Football (see Penn State).

Good thing I am not bitter about the imprint that Catholicism made on my life, huh? Bitterness would not be part of my papal regime, but since I’m not Pope and never will be, I’ll keep stoking that bitterness. Thankyouverymuch.

FN 1: Recently, my mother mentioned she was reading my blog, so if she happens to see this post: (1) I never had premarital sex myself, and (2) I am eternally grateful for the superior education that my parents gave me through the Catholic institutions that I called my home for many years.


Male Babysitters: How To Think Through Fear And Gut Reactions

I am scared of male babysitters.  There.  I said it.  Actually, I feel terror at the thought of them.  It’s not fair, and it’s gender discrimination and if I was a corporation you could sue me and if I was a state agency I would be in H-O-T water.  But, I am just a mom of two kids who I am trying to keep safe, and I am too damn scared to deal with a male babysitter.

Resource for preventing Sexual Abuse (image from Amazon.com)

Resource for preventing Sexual Abuse (image from Amazon.com)

It’s not about all men (though I have mentioned this before here). I trust my husband more than myself with my children.  The same is true of many of my friends’ husbands and partners.  But I read too many articles about Penn State and the Catholic Church, so when I encounter a male babysitter, my deep-seated inner panic siren flares.

Every Thursday I attend a meeting that provides childcare, so I bring my kids.  We’ve been going to this meeting for years, so we know the kids and their mothers.  It’s been a nurturing and safe environment for us.  Recently, there was some turnover with the babysitter and the meeting is trying out some new candidates.  Yesterday’s candidate, “Robert.”

I saw the email introducing Robert and my stomach lurched.  Robert? What? A male babysitter?  So many questions swirled in my head– none of which ever occurred to me when we were trying out Jessica or Katie or Olivia.  I was uncomfortable with my fear, but I couldn’t see around it.  It was bigger than me.  I heard other mothers voice concerns.  Per routine, a background check was performed, and it came back stellar.  The only problem with Robert? He was a man.

To deal with my terror without punishing an innocent man, I suggested that my nanny, S., serve as the second babysitter.  I trust her implicitly and believe that having a second adult in the room would give us a chance to get comfortable.  I told my S. about my fears about Robert, totally owning that they were terrors born of my own experience and not a reflection on Robert.

I dropped S. and my two kids off in the childcare room, after introducing myself to Robert, who struck me as gentle and professional.

But, he’s still a man.  I have no idea how to evaluate where risks are for my children.  I don’t want to teach them that all men are molesters, but I don’t want to send them out in the world without tools or information.  But what information should I give them?

Honestly, I don’t think I would leave my kids with a male childcare provider who I didn’t know well.  It’s not fair but I don’t have to be fair when it comes to my kids.

When I got the letter informing me about Sadie’s new preschool teacher, I was grateful she was a woman, because….well, because of all this.  If Sadie had gotten a male teacher, what would I have done? I have no idea.  But you would have heard all about it.

Have you encountered the prospect of a male babysitter/childcare provider?  Did you feel fear? How have you dealt with it? How can we teach our children without scaring them or unfairly setting them up to mistrust all men/women?

Click here for the Amazon link to Off Limits, by Sandy Wurtele.

Holy Sisterhood, Batman

Question: What’s unified, sanctified, and dignified?

Answer: A thoroughly badass group of American nuns.

Photo courtesy of www.cathnewsusa.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.cathnewsusa.com

If you would have told me last week that I would draw female empowerment inspiration from a situation involving the Catholic Church, I might have spit out my food (however, I would then pick it up off the floor and eat it anyway). But, when a powerful and sizeable contingent of American nuns told the Vatican to suck it (I am paraphrasing), I almost signed up to be Catholic again just to support the ladies from the inside.

This spring, the Vatican reprimanded the nuns– based on “unsubstantiated” information gathered through a process that wasn’t transparent (raise your hand if this shocks you)– for failing to adhere to and uphold the Church’s doctrines.  Specifically, these rogue nuns were (1) in favor of Obama’s heath care reform, despite the reform’s position on abortion; and (2) allegedly failed to focus sufficiently on the Church’s doctrine that opposes same-sex marriage.  The nuns’ focus: poverty and the economically disenfranchised. Read about the Vatican’s reprimand here.

Where do those nuns get off focusing on poverty and economic injustice– in the middle of a recession no less?

Fierce b*tches.

But enough about the Vatican, which probably has its hands full harboring priests who molest children. Let’s talk about the nuns.

They recently responded to the allegations, after taking some quiet time (6 weeks), which culminated in a meeting to pray together and discern the best course of action.  The result of the meeting is that they have requested that the Vatican engage in a dialogue about the issues– the nuns recently issued this statement.

Here’s why I love this story:

1. Six Weeks of Silence: Something about the 6 weeks that elapsed between the public criticism and the nuns’ public response just gets me. When I am wrongly (or rightly for that matter) accused, I take about 6 nanoseconds before I fly off the flipping handle.  I come out swinging, and I come out defensive and hostile.  And I usually come out alone. Not so this group of super sisters.  They took their time, they prayed, they discerned.  To me, their actions conjure the word “grace.”

2. Unity: I love the unity among the nuns.  Surely it’s a disparate group of women– just because they all agreed to take a vow of poverty and forego sexual intercourse for this lifetime, doesn’t mean they are a monolithic group. Some work in schools, some serve as CEOs of hospitals, and some work in direct services to the very poor they are criticized for focusing on. But, they stand together.  It’s a great example of female strength and unity.

It’s easy for me to focus on the failings of the Vatican; I am literally twitching to go off about it now.  But today I am going to focus on the nuns and the example they have set for me: a little quiet (not my strength), a little discernment, and a sober, thoughtful response to outrageous allegations.  I swear I kind of hope someone accuses me of something today so I invoke my inner nun and gracefully respond.