Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Why I am leaving the Roman Catholic Church

Readers of this blog have seen me refer to myself repeatedly as a badly lapsed Catholic. I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic faith, and although I don't attend mass nearly as often as I should, I have always considered myself a loyal Catholic, and a member of that faith. That is why it hurts so much to leave it. However, as painful as it is to leave the only faith I have had my entire life, leave it I must, and at the risk of losing many friends, I have to ask my fellow anti-Communists in the Catholic faith to join me in the exodus. The continuing minuet between the Vatican and the Chinese Communist Party has given me no choice.

That the Holy See is looking for a rapprochement with the Communist regime is not news; in fact, it predates the election of Pope Benedict XVI. However, recent developments have made it clear that the Church, and the Pope who leads it, are not only willing to sacrifice the island democracy of Taiwan, but also the well-being of the people of mainland China, including millions of believers who have suffered persecution to resist the Communist-controlled "Patriotic" Church and remain loyal to the Vatican. This I can no longer accept.

Truth be told, I've been considering this move for some time now (last item), ever since I read the story of the "breakthrough" in Shanghai. The Vatican consecrated a "Patriotic" priest as a successor bishop to Aloysius Jin, the Communist Bishop in Shanghai. Worse than that, the Vatican also rejected the request of Bishop Joseph Fan - head of the loyal "underground" Shanghai Church - to have a successor consecrated for him. In effect, the Holy See told the persecuted Shanghai Catholics that it was time to go to the Communist-controlled Shanghai masses. Shanghai isn't alone: "in a journal that reflects Vatican thinking, German Jesuit theologian Father Hans Waldenfels suggested in October that successors to underground bishops would no longer be named by the pope, thereby healing the decades-old split in China's Catholic communities" (Newsweek).

Now, I know a good Christian, even one suffering persecution, should love his persecutors and pray for them. But endorse the persecutors' faith over their own? That one I don't see.

Still, I held back, in part because I wanted to think and pray things through, and in part because of the elevation of Cardinal Joseph Zen. If Pope Benedict was willing to elevate the Bishop of Hong Kong, a longtime champion of human rights and defender of the city's beleaguered freedoms, then perhaps there was hope.

That hope was dashed by Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States (i.e., Foreign Minister). Archbishop Lajolo's statement, which was released in such a way as to make clear he was speaking for Benedict XVI, was deeply troubling for two reasons. The first was, of course, Taiwan. The archbishop pledged to "immediately" break off ties with Taiwan if diplomatic relations were established with the Communist regime. Lajolo even went so far as to say that (in the words of United Press Int'l via Washington Times), "the spiritual needs of millions of Chinese Catholics were clearly more urgent than the needs of 300,000 Taiwan Catholics." For any Catholic, but most especially an archbishop, to claim some Catholics are more important than others was a rude shock. Even worse, however, was Lajolo's comments on Cardinal Zen - namely that Benedict XVI elevated him not to speak to the increasing danger in Hong Kong, but rather "to signal his concern and respect for China" (Catholic World News via Church Resources).

However, the straw that broke the camel's back was, ironically, Archbishop Lajolo's attempt to defend Zen's political activism. Lajolo insisted that Cardinal Zen (and these are Lajolo's words) "had not interfered in the legislative activity of the state" (CWN via CR). I couldn't believe my eyes. Cardinal Zen is well-known in Hong Kong for playing a leading role in interfering with the Communist-controlled HK Legislative Council's attempt to pass the hideous "anti-subversion" law in 2003 (sixth item). In fact, said interference was instrumental in fueling the "people power" that pushed the local Communists to shelve the law. Either the Vatican is ignorant of the situation in Hong Kong - and Cardinal Zen's importance there - or it is trying to airbrush recent history.

In any event, Lajolo's comments, the actions regarding Shanghai, and the statements on Taiwan have made it abundantly clear: the Roman Catholic Church is looking to accommodate the Chinese Communist Party, and if the Roman Catholic Church is growing comfortable with the Chinese Communist Party, I am no longer comfortable in the Roman Catholic Church.

The fact that I was a lapsed Catholic will make this withdrawal less powerful; it is the price I pay for my weakness in faith. I also understand that it will be much harder for Catholics reading this to join me in leaving; many of them may not consider me a Catholic in good standing as it is.

However, I must ask them these questions. Does the Lord want his Church to seek a compromise with an entity as evil as the Chinese Communist Party? Does "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's" include the endorsement of a "church" the Communist regime used in its war against the faithful? Does the Church honor its martyrs from China's past by trying to find just the right concession to win the imprimatur of the regime that martyred them?

We must all answer these questions with the help of the Lord, and in our own thoughts and prayers, but as for me, I have made my decision. I am, for now, a Christian without denomination. I have left - because I feel I must leave - the Roman Catholic Church, and I hope against hope that I am not the only one.

Cross-posted to the Shotgun

7 comments:

Shaun Kenney said...

I'm sorry to hear of your decision, D.J.

I can only argue that the Catholic Church is the very same organization that brought down the Soviet colossus, and that I trust that behind the scenes there is much more at stake that outsiders may or may not be privy to know.

Anonymous said...

I'm also sorry to hear of your decision - but leaving the Church is not the answer.

sheree gomez said...

I support you and believe you are correct in distancing yourself from an organization that succombs to communism. Communism is Satan's tool to rid the world of religious freedom. To bow down to communism is to bow down to Satan.

Anonymous said...

I left the Catholic church too.

One of the major reasons I left besides the false doctrine, was realizing the Vatican's promotion of the United Nations organization and involvement with every new Third way organization [the UN's new version of Communism] out there including everything from the WTO to one world religion United Nations sponsered interfaith organizations like WCRP and UNESCO.....

http://www.wcrp.org/

Put your faith in Christ alone and pray for Him to show you where to go for a new church home. I will pray that other Christians come to support you.

You will be blessed to turn to His Word, and to be in a church or assembly that feeds you true meat of the Word.

Anonymous said...

I too am extremely sorry to hear of your decision to leave the Catholic faith. I also hear the concerns and frustration which some may have of the church. Having escaped from another communist country, I do understand the evil of that country. However, the church distancing itself would not resolve the evil. Like that of the once Eastern European block and USSR, communisim was crushed by God through the great works of the late Pope John Paul II -- who for those who are ignorant was a Catholic himself. For those who do not know, it was this same man who required Fidel Castro to not wear his communist military uniform when they met. Since the meeting, Cuba (yes a communist country)has released slowly but surely its grip on religious freedom. Is it perfect, no. But it is certainly moving in the right direction. They say that patience is a virtue, the Catholic church is a very patient body of Christ. The means we see today with China is not to be misunderstood as "succomb" but rather as an opportunity to open the door for Christ to enter and destroy evil. It takes time my fellow Christians. And blaming the Catholic church in and of itself is un-Christian characteristic. The church has been around for a long time and if it were so error prone, why does it continue to last? Also, for those Christians who blame the church, please read the bible more carefully -- especially adultrous and the rock. Peace be with everyone.

Lastly, my friend, please reconsider your decision. Pride is the worse evil, even more worse than communism.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear that you have left the church. It is even more sad that you have decided to allow what appears to be political issues to get in the way of your faith. Our catholic faith is about believing in Christ and his resurrection, and about god's love & mercy and all the goodness that he stands for. We have not been baptised to enter the church because of one person e.g. the pope, or for any number of persons. We have been baptised to follow the Lord. The church, made up of people, will try to do God's will and if there are errors in judgement then these should be forgiven. Any external events that's gong on in the church does not change the fact that at mass God is present in the communion waitng for us to receive him, that the holy spirit is waiting in the confessional box for the penitent to go and confess its sins so that it can cleanse it's soul, that the offering of the mass is a sacrifice and offering of ourselves and of Christ to God. All these graces are still waiting for you to come back to. I feel that you believe in yourself and your own opinion more than God' and your priority of importance is yourself,not God. By leaving the catholic church you are not receiving the very nourishments you need for your soul, especially the holy communion.You are not doing yourself any favours. You are tormenting yourself with things that are not in your control. Try not to allow Satan to tear you away from the church using any excuse for that is his job and he's good at it. Be careful when people support you in leaving the church because these people are not acting in your interest but satisfying their own ego. What pleases God in a person is humility and selflessness, the abandonment of one's will to follow God no matter how hard and trying one's journey is. You need to pray to God and ask that he gives you discernment, patience. I hope one day you will come back because it's your soul you should be looking after first and foremost.

Anonymous said...

Don't do it!

Your fellow Catholics arround the world pray that all Catholics in China will be united with the Holy See and at the same time love their country and fellow man even more because of the spiritual guidance of the Catholic Church.
Please; keep the faith.