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7 years ago  ::  Apr 20, 2011 - 8:59AM #1
susan
Posts: 8

Talking to Anglo-Catholics, I'm often struck by how many are drawn to the RCC, as I was for a long time. However, I want to share my experiences with you. Does anyone have a similar experience of the RCC? It has left me devasted and bewildered.


I was baptised and confirmed into the Anglican church, though I lost my faith completely in my early teens. It took me 20 years or so to come back to God, though even then (in my late 20s) I still wasn't clear about my religious belonging. I experimented with forms of Christian Buddhism and Unitarianism. I met some wonderful, faith-filled people in these communities, but I felt that something was missing. It seemed to me that in these communities, a person was free to believe pretty much what they wished within certain limits. I was looking for a more coherent theology and as I explored this further, I came to realise that in fact I was a pretty traditional Christian. I began to attend an Anglo-Catholic church and to think carefully about traditional Catholic doctrine. Much to my astonishment, I began to feel a strong spiritual pull towards the RCC. This intensified as I started to attend Mass and pray traditional Catholic prayers. I struggled with this since, whilst I'm theologically conservative, I'm socially liberal. I had real problems with the church's stance on homosexuality and the role of women, for instance. Nevertheless, the spiritual pull was becoming impossible to resist and in May last year I went to see my local Catholic priest.


I don't know what I expected from the meeting, but I was surprised by what happened. I knew that Catholic conversion was a rigorous process and I expected the priest to ask me some very searching questions. He didn't. Neither did he seem particularly welcoming. In fact, he seemed uncomfortable, twitchy and cold throughout our short meeting. Nevertheless, he gave me a booklet about the RCIA classes and said that someone would be in touch.


Nobody contacted me over the next few weeks, so I wrote a short letter saying that I was still very interested in the RCIA. Finally, I received a call from the assistant priest in charge of the classes. He was very friendly and I attended the first class with some trepidation, but feeling optimistic overall about the journey ahead.


During the first meeting, the priest asked us all a few questions about ourselves, one of which was about our marital status. Now, I had expected to be asked about this from day one and I was dreading the question because I co-habit with my partner. I know the church teaches that this is a sin, but conversations over the previous year with Catholic friends had convinced me that the church had relaxed a little on this issue. I knew Catholics who were not married, but who regularly took communion at churches where their marital status was no secret. I have been in a faithful relationship with my partner for 15 years and whilst I would happily marry in a church, he is not a believer and could not in good faith make the vows. I was hoping that if I got a chance to explain this, the church would make allowances whilst still of course insisting that marriage was the ideal I should aspire to.


Well, I told the group that I was co-habiting. The priest didn't bat an eyelid. He was far more concerned with whether any of us had been divorced, or were married to someone who had been divorced. My co-habitation wasn't seen as a problem at this stage. Not only this, but over the months that followed the priest regularly enquired after my partner's health and even asked if he would be attending my confirmation. I was firmly convinced by this that my Catholic friends had been correct: co-habitation was not ideal, but it was no bar to my conversion.


I became increasingly excited by the prospect of my conversion. It wasn't easy, though. I had to pray hard about issues I still found difficult, but gradually I fought through these difficulties. I began to tell friends outside the church about my decision. Again, this was very hard. Some people were extremely hostile towards me and I have lost friends as a result. Still, I persisted and became certain that God was guiding me in my journey.


On the first Sunday of Lent, I attended the Cathedral to be presented as a catechumen. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life. This is it, I thought: I'm home!


No, it wasn't to be. A week later I received a phone call from the priest (the Father in charge of the parish with whom I had initially met nearly a year before). He said he wanted to see me, but didn't say why. I went along not knowing what to expect, but hardly thinking that anything could be wrong. After all, I'd been to the cathedral only the Sunday before as a Catechumen. I was on the very brink of confirmation. What could be wrong?


I sat down and he told me that my paperwork revealed that I was co-habiting. That was true. I had stated it on the form because I had no reason to believe it was a problem. The RCIA leader knew about my circumstances. It became a problem, though, when the form was sent to the diocese office. The priest told me that my relationship was sinful and would bring 'scandal to the church'. He offered no words of support or explanation as to why this hadn't been made clear to me nine months before. His attitude was actually very cruel. It was as if he wanted the news to be as devastating as possible. I'm not overstating this - he was callous in the way that he delivered what he must, or should have realised was going to be a huge blow to me. I pretty much pleaded with him to contact the diocese on my behalf. Perhaps my partner and I could agree to marry? Would a civil ceremony be enough? He said he would see what he could do and showed me out without another word.


I didn't hear anything more for over a week. It was a terrible week. I was in a terrible state. Finally, the RCIA priest contacted me to say he was sorry how things had turned out. So that was it. I wasn't going to be confirmed. After nine months of preparation, five weeks before confirmation I was being shut out. I haven't heard anything from the church since and haven't had the guts to step foot in the local church. I feel humiliated and, in a sense, bereaved. That sounds extreme, but the sense of loss really is overwhelming and the church has offered no support or understanding. It is a strange way for the church to behave. It does seem callous to me.


Where to go from here? God wants me to sort out my relationship with my partner. I see that.  But does God want me in the Catholic church? Or have I had a blessing in disguise: a chance to stabilise my relationship AND a narrow escape from Catholicism?


Watch this space.    

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7 years ago  ::  Apr 25, 2011 - 4:46PM #2
Roodog
Posts: 10,168

Just because the RCC gave a $#!+  about whether you were married or not??? Their position has always been marriage or celabacy.

For those who have faith, no explanation is neccessary.
For those who have no faith, no explanation is possible.

St. Thomas Aquinas

If one turns his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer is an abomination. Proverbs 28:9
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5 years ago  ::  Mar 26, 2013 - 1:46PM #3
JoanTreese
Posts: 2,531

I'm just reading this now.  (I wasn't sure this page was still active.)


 


Susan, as a former RCC, I would say "good bye" at least to this particular parish.  A friend of mine used to say: "All the sacraments and none of the gulit" about Anglicism vs. the RCC.  He was correct as far as I'm concerned! 


 


I consider myself to be an Anglo-Catholic.  While I do attend an Episcopal parish, my parish is very open and I am able to worship as I see fit.  Perhaps you should continue your search for an Anglo-Catholic parish?  Best wishes to you!

Joan

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? [Micah 6:8]
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