I share this story as an atheist who still embraces the lessons I learned and continually reflect upon having grown up Catholic in America.
So why am I compelled to write this post?
My wife and I (Sedona, AZ circa 2011)
I first recognized the face of evil/denial in the Catholic church when my wife and I became parishoners at Sts. Peter and Paul's church in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1991... My son was an infant and my wife eagerly volunteered to become an RCIA (Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults and Youth) teacher at the parish. At this parish was a man whom everyone seemed to adore, his name was Manuel (Manny) Feliciano and he was the sacristan at the church. He was in charge of the daily preparations for mass and of the altar boys....
One of my wife's students was a nice young (17yr old) student who confided with my wife that Manny had been making unwelcome romantic advances towards him... This brave young person gave my wife a letter from Manny that read like a jilted lover letter and had some disturbingly weird passages/threats in it... My gut response was to call 911, but my wife decided to go through official church channels so, we immediately brought this issue to the parish priests and were dismayed to get a dismissive response.
Manny only ever admitted to an initial pass at the boy, and the overwhelming parish response to this is that it was just a one time event and could be overlooked in light of all the wonderful things that Manny did as the Sacristan of the parish.
My wife and I rejected this attitude and left the church immediately!
At the same time, I was going through a lot of reflection to realize that I did not believe in the concept of God, heaven, hell, or the divinity of Christ, nor could I countenance my continued affiliation with an organization intent on protecting their own image above the basic human rights/dignities of their constituents.
A few years later, my wife and I both testified in a lawsuit case on behalf of another parent whose children were sexually molested by Manny-- The diocese actually had the temerity to threaten us and then counter sued the mom as "reckless" for trusting her kids to be left alone with the sacristan of the church! This injustice served to permanently sever our relationship with any/all things Catholic.
Indeed, this was a difficult time for me and my family! I had taken a vow to raise my son in a church I no longer had any faith in and my wife was distraught over the whole event. We still have many friendships that we do cherish from the Catholic community and most of our friends accept that we no longer believe in the tenets of the church. We also lost many friends in this process.
In the ensuing decade, I have fully embraced my atheism and my wife has pursued the building of her own personal theology at a Unitarian Universalist church. Our son still struggles with his own beliefs on the rocky spiritual road that we provided; and for that I will be ever apologetic - I am in no place to tell him what he should or should not believe.
I don't know why I feel compelled to share this, but that is the short version of how a cradle Catholic became a most unbecoming Catholic.