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Yesterday was the most hopeful day I've ever had as a Catholic Democrat.  The Catholic diocese of Arlington, Virginia, reputed to be the most conservative diocese in the country, decided this week to finally allow girls to become altar servers, lifting a decade-long prohibition that excluded girls from sharing in this expresssion of their faith.  When he finally changed the rule last week, Our Lady Queen of Peace church in Arlington was one of two churches in the diocese to sieze this opportunity and have girls serve at yesterday's Masses.  

For years, I've felt increasingly disconnected from the religion of my youth as I became a more staunch Christian progressive Democrat. But just as I'd come close to giving up on "being a Catholic" entirely, one little parish kept me coming back -- one renegade, ragtag, humble little parish right outside of our nation's capital, in Arlington, Virginia.  

Yesterday's joyful celebration of inclusion at Our Lady Queen of Peace made me feel hope again in the intersection of my faith, my religion, and my politics for the first time in a long time.

As my faith and political convictions have grown stronger in my adult life, I mourned how I saw the Catholic Church leadership focus less on social justice and the teachings of Jesus and more on narrow-focus punitive opposition to gay marriage and abortion and defensiveness about the coverup of sexual abuse by priests (all of which, in my understanding, are antithetical to the teachings of Christ).  Watching how many Catholic leaders eviscerated and rejected John Kerry (even making public pronouncements on his fitness to receive Communion) made me sick.

I've spent years drifting away from the Catholic Church intellectually and spiritually but still yearning for a return to the religion that felt like home.  Most of the Catholic Masses I've attended in the last 10 years have been disappointing - rituals that felt somewhat devoid of greater purpose and joy, homilies that focused on venerating the innocent "pre-born" or railing against the so-called attack on families and traditional marriage from those who believe in equal rights for GLBT folk.  My faith and my religion were totally out of synch.  More often than not, I felt more frustration and shame than inspiration when I heard Catholic leaders speak.

A few years ago, one of my colleagues in a public school where I was a teacher recommended his parish to me.  He knew I was raised Catholic and felt that my liberal politics didn't fit in with the increasingly conservative American Church, but told me about this one haven for progressive Catholics -- an inclusive parish that welcomed GLBT members (and for many years was led by a beloved openly gay pastor) and had a very progressive, politically active parish community that focused on social justice.  

This parish, tucked away in a simple little white chapel in a diverse working-class neighborhood, is dedicated to being living witness toMatthew 25:31-46:

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Its pews are packed every Sunday with people from all races and cultural backgrounds.  The place bustles with energy and children and music and joy.  The bulletin is packed with information about getting involved in direct ministry to the needy as well as political action.  The pastor urges parishoners to go to County Board meetings an advocate for budgets that have adequate funding for affordable housing and services to the needy and mentally ill.  There is a true "pro-life" focus -- making sure that pregnant women, children, families, the lonely, the poor, the hungry, the elderly, the forgotten, the disabled, and the "least" of us are loved, accepted, included, and remembered.  The money pours in and pours right back out into direct ministry to the needy.  The chapel itself isn't fancy or adorned with expensive decorations - it's got cheap ceiling tiles, worn carpets, and peeling paint.  Most money in the basket isn't spent on finery.  It goes to a painfully poor sister-parish in Haiti.  

Girls have been altar servers in all but one other diocese in the U.S. and in most countries around the world since 1994, but the bishop in Arlington was adamant in his opposition to the practice until this week.  Parishoners and leaders from Our Lady Queen of Peace have been actively lobbying the bishop for a decade to change his ban on allowing girls on the altar.

As many of you know, after posting and writing diaries very regularly in 2003-04, I've been quiet on DailyKos for the past year because I'd moved back to CT to take care of my ailing elderly father, a task which consumed most of my time and energy and left little time for politics and blogging.  My dad died three weeks ago.  

At my dad's funeral Mass, I was honored to deliver his eulogy, and being part of the beautiful Catholic ritual made me sad for how much my dad grieved about my disconnection from the Church he loved so much.  He was a very proud old-time Irish Catholic Democrat, and completely rejected the idea that you can't be a faithful Catholic and a proud Democrat.  But as much as I hated to disappoint him in this way, I couldn't help feel wrong when I'd go to Mass at most parishes and sit through a homily that sometimes preached the exact opposite of my understanding of the merciful and abundant love of Jesus.  

Yesterday, I brought my mother down to Virginia to get her out of the house and try to shake her a bit out of her depression.  Without realizing what a happy occasion we'd be celebrating, I took her to church on Sunday.  A lifelong Catholic, my mom was startled at how different Mass was at this Church -- a standing ovation and cheers for the newest altar girl, a lively African folk song to begin the Mass, holding hands during the Our Father, open references to the horrible immigration bill and to the county budget, politically-oriented prayers for the faithful shouted out from dozens of parishoners in the pews during the general intercessions, and - most meaningful of all - the priest's obvious joy at the inclusion of girls on the altar and his expressed hope for "full gender equality" in the Church in the future. When the priest adamantly said to those in the pews, "All who believe in Jesus are welcome at His table.  Don't let ANYONE stop you" from receiving Communion, I felt welcome at to receive Communion for the first time in years.  It felt like he'd personally kick the ass of anyone who tried to keep from including me or any other person of faith from joining in sharing the Communion.  My mom loved it and said it was one of the most joyful Masses she'd ever attended.

What I saw in church yesterday made me feel joy and hope about being a Catholic Democrat for the first time in my adult life.  Nobody is going to tell me I'm not a Catholic because I'm a proud Democrat.  No Catholic League president (who is no more Catholic than me or any other Catholic) or Fox News pundit is going to go on TV and strip me of my religious identity because I fight for social justice for the poor, reproductive freedom for all, and equal rights for gay and lesbian people.

I know from experience that finding a parish like this one is rare in our country today.  But I felt inspired to share this on DailyKos today because I know from reading and commenting here for the last few years that there are so many other Catholic Democrats who feel similarly and who'd love to know that there's at least one church out there where they'd feel at home.  Have faith.  Don't give up.  And don't ever surrender to those who'd say you're not Catholic because you're a Democrat.

Originally posted to Maura in VA on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 04:50 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow, Maura's back (12+ / 0-)

    You could introduce a diary on gravel making techniques, and I'd read it. Good to have you back.

  •  From a fellow Catholic Dem... (22+ / 0-)

    who also happens to be gay, I share your feelings.  It's hard to sit there on Sundays (when I go), and really feel connected.  At the same time, I cannot see myself going anywhere else.  I am comforted by the rituals, even as I am pushed away by the devisive message.

    It is my sincerest hope that all people find comfort and hope in whatever institution they choose to attend, or comfort and hope in whatever they choose to believe.  I know that in end, I am both a Catholic and a Democrat, and NO ONE can tell me otherwise.  I just hope I can live a good life, helping others and the like.  In that, I know I can find peace between the two.

    Also, I am sorry for the loss of your father.  You have my deepest sympathies and well wishes.

    "No government has the right to tell its citizens whom to love. The only queer people are those who don't love anybody." - Rita Mae Brown (-4.75, -7.13)

    by AUBoy2007 on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 04:51:30 PM PST

    •  Great quote (6+ / 0-)

      I loved this:

      I know that in end, I am both a Catholic and a Democrat, and NO ONE can tell me otherwise.  I just hope I can live a good life, helping others and the like.  In that, I know I can find peace between the two.

      BTW, if the "AU" in your name is American University, I hope you'll consider hopping over the river to this church sometime.  There are a lot of  gay Catholics who've found a home at OLQP.

      Thanks very much for the kind expression of sympathy, too.

      •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ahianne, libnewsie

        The AU is American U, but I belong to AU's Catholic Community.  It's not perfect by any means, but it's mine and my peers'.  I've grown to enjoy it, and it's nice to attend chruch with my friends and fellow students.  Last year, during the time of the pro-life rallies, our priest spoke about how we should go.  And yet, he spoke in such a way, that I could not be offended.  I disagreed, but I did not feel un-welcome in the least.  It was amazing.  It was a shame that they moved him to GW for this school year.

        And as of this summer, I'm graduating and off to law school, so I'll have to find a place in Williamsburg to call home.

        It's a shame I haven't heard of OLQP until now.  I would have loved to find a home that is so inclusive.  I may have to come visit, if I can find a free Sunday!

        "No government has the right to tell its citizens whom to love. The only queer people are those who don't love anybody." - Rita Mae Brown (-4.75, -7.13)

        by AUBoy2007 on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:50:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  OLQP sounds like my old parish in Ohio. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ahianne, libnewsie

        I wish I didn't live so far away from it.

        I've two kids whom I haven't baptised yet.  I want them to take instruction.  Thinking of Holy Trinity in G-Town.  Dunno.

  •  Put Jesus's Teachings in the Courtroom (17+ / 0-)

    I would support it! Its MUCH better than the 10 commandments. The Republicans could learn from this list.

    1. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall attain mercy."
    1. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth."
    1. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."
    1. "There is no male, there is no female, for you are all one under the Lord."
    1. "For whoever strike you on the cheek, i say unto you, turn the other."

    And you only need five. I am an atheist but i still view these as some of the best moral guidelines ever written. It is too bad most so called Christians don't care about Jesus.

    •  Another atheist here... (5+ / 0-)

      and recovered Catholic who only found patriarchal control freaks and judgmental anger in my childhood age 11 I knew it was all baloney. longer Catholic but still Irish, I'd have to cut numbers 2 and 5 from Mikesco's list!

      Find comfort where you can...if in a church group or a church building, fine.  Better yet, at a concert, a play, a film, in the home of friends, in your own home with family and friends, in a book, an art gallery, in the woods, on the shore...comfort and inspiration are where you find it.  You only have to look...

      Tell me how you spend your time and how you spend your money -- I'll tell you what your values are.

      by oldpro on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 05:07:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The lost opportunity (5+ / 0-)

        The thing that makes me so sad is that Christianity had the ability to create a world of near-pacifism of the people in power who claim to "take the Bible literally" actually did indeed do so. If you become a Biblical Scholar you will learn that Christianity has been twisted away from what Jesus said since the very beginning. But part of the problem with that is religion does not encourage independant thoguht or careful analysis or looking at the evidence. It encourages - well - faith. And that's a big part of why i can't accept it.

        •  If you knew that Chrisitanity was based on (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          katiebird, Elizabeth D

          false assumptions , you wouldn't say that.
          The only reason people were looking for a Messiah was because of the OT prophets. Show me where they said a belief in a messiah was necessary to get into heaven or be redeemed.
          The only one that talked about a new testament also said at such time it would not be taught as it would be planted in one's heart.
          The only thing Paul was halfway honest about was Romans 11:26And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
            "The deliverer will come from Zion;
               he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.(Not the world but Jacob-Israel)
          27And this is my covenant with them
               when I take away their sins."(their sins , the sins of Israel-not one fucking word about original sin)
          Now if you want to know why Jesus clueless go to www.religionquestioned. com which has an offer to shut site.
          No mean to rain on anybody's parade but bullshit is bullshit and you have an idiot that took us to war becaue he thought God gave him the red light.

  •  Welcome back, Maura! (9+ / 0-)

    I'm thrilled to see you here.  I've missed you and the clarity of your vision and writing.

    As usual, I agree with you -- I've felt that same disconnect repeatedly these last 20 years (maybe 30) when I have attended mass.  And it's weird, because in my heart, I think my faith is much stronger than it was when I was as a teen.  

    I'm so glad for you that you can belong to such a wonderful parish.  I wish we had something similar here (in Kansas.)

    Eat 4 Today: Just today I'm not going to take seconds & not eating between meals

    by katiebird on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 04:58:37 PM PST

    •  Thanks, Katie! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      katiebird, Elizabeth D, Man Eegee

      I've been remiss in not sending my condolence thank-you's yet, and you deserve a big one.  Thank you so much for your kind email.  I've been thinking of you and your family a lot lately.  Next time you come out to visit your sis, maybe the three of us could do Mass at OLQP.  That would be a trip!  :-)

      •  You weren't remiss at all (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elizabeth D, libnewsie

        I'm sure you were still in a fog, but you replied right away -- very sweetly, too.  

        I'd love to go to Mass with you and J and it's been too long since I've been out there.  If we can't talk her into going -- let's do it anyway!

        (totally off-topic, but have you seen my website?  Send me an email later and let me know what you think)  

        Eat 4 Today: Just today I'm not going to take seconds & not eating between meals

        by katiebird on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 05:28:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm sorry for your loss, Maura (6+ / 0-)

    Glad to have you and your always kindly measured voice here again. It's been a bit nutso around these parts lately.

    Unbossed--a dangerous blog for dangerous times.

    by em dash on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 05:00:31 PM PST

    •  Thanks (5+ / 0-)

      I've tried to keep up with occasionally reading dKos since fall of '05, when my savings finally ran out and I had to go from full-time caretaking (and lots of blogging after dad went to bed!) to working full-time, taking care of dad after work, and no energy left for blogging.  It's certainly been a volatile year here!  But it's always great to read familiar voices and be inspired by so many people who haven't given up and are still fighting to take back our country.  

      Your one of those names whose writing I always have to click into when I see it here.  Thanks for the kind welcome back!  :-)

  •  Maura (9+ / 0-)

    You and I share some things in common:  I'm Irish Catholic too; have struggled for the last several years with wanting to be part of a parish but just not being able to set aside my strong feelings about how many things I dislike about the Church and its hierarchy; and I also lost my dad, but it was three years ago.  I felt so guilty for hiding from him that I did not attend Mass.  As someone else mentioned, I actually feel I have a stronger faith now than I did as a younger person and it is so hard that while I feel good about the Catholic faith, I find it very hard to get around the Catholic church.  Reading your diary did give me hope, however--maybe one day I'll find a parish like yours.  I'd give anything to be able to feel good about going back.

    •  Meant to add (4+ / 0-)

      My sympathy on the loss of your father.  I got to spend a lot of time with my dad the last five months of his life when I took him to dialysis three times a week.  I think of that as a special time because I got to know him on such a different level than I had as a younger person.    

      •  Wow (8+ / 0-)

        Even more coincidences!  The most special closeness time I had with my dad was taking him to dialysis three times a week for about nine months.  (After I went back to work, we had to arrange to share that responsibility with my mom, my brother, me, and a passel of drivers from the Red Cross.)

        There was something incredibly poignant about dressing my dad for dialysis, bundling him in warm weather gear, holding his hand as walked to the car in ice and snow, etc.  It was such a reversal of roles and a beautiful connection that I'll always treasure.  We had lots of great chats in the car each way, too.

        BTW, my dad actually passed away at dialysis.

        Thanks so much for letting me know my diary gave you a little hope -- that's exactly what I was feeling and hoping to share with other discouraged Catholic Democrats!

        •  Condolences (5+ / 0-)

          and understanding heading your way from another Irish Catholic Democrat who lost her father to kidney failure  nearly 8 years ago.  My dad was on dialysis for 22 years (12 longer than they'd said he had once he started dialysis), and he sounds a lot like your dad--a fighter to the end.  No one ever told him "never" and made him believe it.  He was a guy of such quiet strength and courage that he left no one unmarked.  

          Your Dad is lucky that he had you--your love for him is so utterly obvious, it's clear you're as special as he was.

          Peace to you and yours.

          Welcome to the U.S.A.E.

          by celticshel on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 06:50:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Time well spent (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Maura in VA, Ahianne, libnewsie

          And for him, his investment in you was repaid tenfold.

          I'm sure your presence brought him great comfort.  

          My two-year old fell out of bed tonight.  He cried and cried for about 30 minutes.  I held him wanting like crazy to take his pain away and make him less scared, while dad rigged up a temporary guard rail system.

          Parents do that knowing that there's a chance he could grow up and forget about us.  But we love him with all our hearts anyway.  I can't read your dad's mind, but as a mom, I can assure you that you were definitely a comfort to him.

          Welcome back to DKos, to politics and to the rest of your life.

  •  You're not alone. (22+ / 0-)

    There are millions of Cathlics who feel that the Church they grew up in has been replaced by this alien entity that preaches separation and hate and has abandoned the poor and the downtrodden.

    Go check out this link, there are people out there who are trying to retain their Catholic identities and take back their Church from the conservatives who are trying to muzzle it's traditional mission:

  •  Wonderful diary, Maura (10+ / 0-)

    I'm happy for you that your diocese has given you a reason to celebrate, and that you have found a church where you can truly feel at home, and proud to call yourself a member. I've found that for myself in the progressive Episcopal church I now attend, but if I had ever been able to forge real connections in the Catholic church I attended here in Columbus, I would still be a Catholic.

    Those family ties are strong, and even though I was feeling less and less "authentic" as a member of the Roman Catholic faith, it was because of my Grandma that I was really hesitant to leave. Especially after she died, and I thought of leaving the church as losing a connection to her.

    Not sure I know where I'm going with this, except to say that I "get" the special significance it has for you to be able to feel good about the church again, because of your dad.

    •  I was thinking of you, Renee... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      katiebird, Elizabeth D, libnewsie

      ...when I posted this.  I know you and I have a lot in common when it comes to our politics and spirituality.  I've always enjoyed reading your writing on the subject.  I'm so happy that you've found a spiritual home, and grateful that you share your thoughts on politics and faith on a regular basis!

  •  My short experience with the Catholic Church (6+ / 0-)

    I'm not Catholic, but my grandparents are.  When my grandmother died, she was buried next to her mother in the church cemetary of the church she had been baptized in 95 years earlier.  Before the interment, I went into the church and looked at the bulletin board.  There were flyers about abortion, the apostolic succession, gay marriage, ...  I wondered where all the flyers about helping the poor were.  It was as if 95% of Jesus' message was missing.  The priest who conducted the interment ceremony was African and not from an English-speaking country.  The shortage of Priests in the US has prompted the church to import priests from abroad.  We could barely understand what he was saying.  One of the few things we cought was when he cursed during his impromtu speech.  I thought my grandfather was going to have a heart attack.  It would have been better if he had done the ceremony in Latin.  The whole thing left me wondering whether the Catholic Church has a future.  They lost my parents and my parents raised us secular.  I couldn't see anything about my experience which would bring me back.

    •  Flyers... (6+ / 0-)

      I can SO relate to your comment about flyers.  My parents got a monthly Catholic newspaper publication from their diocese in Connecticut, and reading the issues would make me alternately depressed and enraged, not inspired.  It seemed like every article was either about opposing abortion, opposing contraception, or opposing gay marriage.  It seemed like the editorials about political action were all about things like stopping distribution of emergency contraception to rape victims at Catholic hospitals, not about getting more funding for health care for the poor and elderly.  

      One of the first things I noticed about this little church in my diary were the tables in the vestibule, which were filled with flyers about working at the local homeless shelter, or a "Stone Soup" discussion series about hunger in America, or about helping their sister-parish in Haiti.  Now THOSE are the kind of flyers that felt like Christianity to me.

    •  Flyers (9+ / 0-)

      When I found flyers for the Catholic League in my church last week, I tore them up and threw them away.

      When I was given a "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics" in 2004, I tore it up and put it in the collection basket.

      When I was given a form to "spiritually adopt a child in danger of abortion", I wrote "but please don't raise taxes to fund programs that will help me grow up safe and healthy" and left it in the pew for another parishioner to read.

      I've got three kids in Catholic school, and I'm getting ready to walk out of that church once and for all.  I don't know how many more unChristian acts I can tolerate.

      It's far better to uphold the Constitution and burn the flag than it is to hold up the flag and burn the Constitution.

      by beemer on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 06:14:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You did the right thing (4+ / 0-)

        You did the right thing but then you don't need me to tell you that. :) Are there any neighboring parishes you could try?  You might find a better fit in a parish across town or in a neighboring town.  The extra drive would be worth it so you wouldn't be subjected to things you and I don't feel comfortable with.

        Vote with your feet when you don't like what's going on in your parish.  They do notice when certain parishes are growing while others are decreasing rapidly.  The Monsignor always advised to call the Bishop to voice concerns but I realize that not all Bishops disapprove now of the behavior you describe.

        My cousin, a Polish priest, until he retired last year had a big following of people that would follow him to whatever parish he was assigned to in the diocese. He is Liberal, spikes his homilies with jokes, welcomes gays, never mentions abortion or other political topics in the Church but does attend anti-war rallies and ones for environmental causes. He still opens our annual family reunion with a mass. If you can find someone like him at a local parish, you would be all set.    

  •  Democrats of faith... (7+ / 0-)

    have faith!

    "Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

    by Jonathan4Dean on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 05:18:29 PM PST

    •  My faith is in a bit of turmoil these days... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Maura in VA, Ahianne, libnewsie

      ... but that's partly because the beautiful message of peace and love that I read in the Bible has been coopted by people who think we should all be stoned (er, the other kind of stoned) for saying the word "thigh".  

      I hope (and you might even say I pray) that people who have faith in a God of love and forgiveness will always have a home in the Democratic Party (indeed, in the Republican Party too, if they can ever dislodge the ideologue morons who have corrupted the Christian message.

      And, to Maura, many condolences.  It's hard to remember to say that when the rest of the diary is such a hopeful, joyous piece.

      You can never ask too many questions.

      by socratic on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 08:43:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  catholic democrats (15+ / 0-)

    as a life-long catholic, i'd like to point out that 'catholic' means universal, all-inclusive.

    here in st. louis missouri, we're surrounded by the sex-obsessed christianists, but our french history gave us a tradition of black catholic parishes, and one of the most inclusive churches is st. alphonus the rock, an old catholic church whose congregation is 75% black, 100% progressive. don't overlook the catholic workers, either. in north st louis, in the middle of vacant buildings, trash-covered lots and lots of poverty, 'karen house' is a shelter for women and children. their masses welcome the rich, the poor, gay, straight, and anyone else.

    i think we progressives make a mistake in hiding our light under a basket. i'm just as repelled by the saccarine piety of the christianists and the pharisees, but we really have to stand up and say 'jesus told us to feed the poor' and 'jesus told us that charity is the greatest virtue.' and every courtroom ought to have a plaque that reads "blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied."

    you don't have to kneel down and kiss jesus' ass to accept that whoever or whatever he was, he said a lot of valuable things that we kosferatuu agree with. we are worse than stupid if we don't repeat his words as an entre to bring along the rest of america to a progressive vision.

    if we don't use the jesus card, we are abondoning the sheeple to the wolves of fox news and the right-wing christianists.

    •  the Rock is a great parish (4+ / 0-)

      luckily in St Louis there are plenty of parishes to choose from. I recommend St Francis Xavier (College) Churchon the SLU campus or St Cronin's.

      Any parish that is run by Jesuits is usually quite good - social justice being a priority; I always say the Jesuits are the thinking person's Catholic.

      "I ain't always right but I've never been wrong; seldom turns out the way it does in the song"

      by Glic on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 06:14:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Best thing I read today (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Maura in VA, sobermom, Ahianne, libnewsie

      ...i think we progressives make a mistake in hiding our light under a basket. i'm just as repelled by the saccarine piety of the christianists and the pharisees, but we really have to stand up and say 'jesus told us to feed the poor' and 'jesus told us that charity is the greatest virtue.' and every courtroom ought to have a plaque that reads "blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied."

      you don't have to kneel down and kiss jesus' ass to accept that whoever or whatever he was, he said a lot of valuable things that we kosferatuu agree with. we are worse than stupid if we don't repeat his words as an entre to bring along the rest of america to a progressive vision.

      if we don't use the jesus card, we are abondoning the sheeple to the wolves of fox news and the right-wing christianists.

      I've been saying the same thing for a long time, but you expressed it very powerfully.  When oh when is our party going to wake up?  It is so obvious and so simple.  Thanks.

    •  The best-kept secret of the Catholic Church (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is the social justice ministry.

      Even here in Dallas, TX, our crusty old bishop came out in opposition to the proposed immigration bill that would criminalize me and my wife and 11 yo son for distributing food at the Food Bank.

      "Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless".  Gee, that's complicated, huh?

      Stop the politicization of crime!

      by tom 47 on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 09:47:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Welcome back Maura (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, Elizabeth D

    I'm sorry for your loss.   I'm glad you are back in VA and at dKos.

  •  Father Haley Deposition (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, Maura in VA, Elizabeth D

    Have you read the Father Haley deposition?  If is available here:
    The ARlington Diocese has an awful lot of dirty laundry to cover up.   They are a corrupt organization.
    Maura I am glad you have found a suitable spritual home in Arlington !

    •  Creepy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I had read some of the coverage in the Post about the All Saints scandal, but that deposition is disturbing on about a dozen more levels.  I sense that there is a lot more behind the these many accusations and potential cover-ups than the deposition can begin to cover.  

      And with a very cursory googling, what I find most disturbing is that this priest, though hailed by some as a great whistle-blower, apparently thinks that the presence of lots of gay men in the priesthood is an even greater scandal and "scourge" on the Church than the sexual abuse of children.  That viewpoint is as disturbing to me as the accusations he makes, frankly.

  •  Let's see (5+ / 0-)

    Out of the 194 Catholic Diocese in America, there is one, and only one diocese that does not allow girls to serve in Mass.  It's my own. I was an alter boy for 5 years, and I never ever thought that this was something that girls shouldn't do.  The bishop says that the high rate of seminarians in Lincoln (highest in the nation) come from this, but I gotta say, I think its the schools.  

    I attended a Catholic school from Kindergarten to my senior year in high school.  There was a time that even I thought I might enter the seminary.  The school tuition for these catholic schools are relatively cheap, (very cheap compared to the Catholic schools on the coast) and I think that being in a Catholic-heavy enviroment everyday was a much better attraction to the priesthood than serving at the alter ever was.

    •  I always... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Avila, sobermom, Ahianne, libnewsie, awakenow

      ...wanted to be an altar girl when I was little.  I was very jealous of my older brothers who got to serve!  Being able to serve on the altar didn't make them any more likely to take vocations; however, being excluded from those kinds of roles certainly exacerbated my alienation from the Church in my teen years.

      The claim that restricting girls from the altar results in a higher vocation rate has been made in Arlington, too.  In fact, I just read today (and sorry I can't find the link right now) that a woman was quoted in one of these articles saying that when girls are allowed to participate in these kinds of activities, it "devalues" the role in boys' eyes, and therefore boys are less interested in participating.  The implication being that the Arlington diocese was more likely to produce new priests because boys who grew up there thought it was cool that they got to do something that girls did not.

      And I thought to myself, "If the kind of men this diocese is attracting to the priesthood are men who get off on being in a powerful role that girls are excluded from, boys who would be turned off from that role if girls were included...are these the kinds of men that we want to be priests?  NO WAY!!!!!"

  •  aoeu (5+ / 0-)

    Maura turned me on to that parish a while ago, it's every bit as good as she says it is.  If you live in near DC and you can attend you should.  link to map

    Life isn't baseball, no matter how far you're down there're always more innings for you and the people you love to fight for the causes you hold dear.

    by TealVeal on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 05:30:11 PM PST

  •  My sympathies on your loss (5+ / 0-)

    RunawayRose and I lost our father about 2 months ago, so I know where you're at.

    Here in a small southern Ohio town there's not a lot of choice in parishes. I've been lucky that most of the pastors we've had over the years, while toeing the line on the abortion issue, have leaned liberal on a lot of other issues. One even wrote an LTE published in the Columbus Dispatch calling for the ordination of married men. When I congratulated him on it, he answered that that was the easy one; the ordination of women was going to take longer.

    •  Sympathies (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, Ahianne, libnewsie

      My heart goes out to you on the loss of your dad, too.    It's so hard.

      One of the best part of yesterday's Mass for me was hearing what I took to be the unequivocal support from the priest for the eventual ordination of women.

      (Now that I'm reading this and realizing that I've hit the recommended list, I hope I don't get OQLP's pastor in hot water for his outspoken honesty!)

    •  Yeah, sometimes it's the luck of the draw (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My sympathies to you, too.  We knew it was coming, we expected it, but it was still a shock when it happened to us.  You know it's going to hurt, but that doesn't stop it hurting.

      Our current pastor is ok, but a few years back we had an associate pastor who kept talking about how other priests (particularly writing columns) were heretics, and sort of congratulating himself on his own holiness.  When I had to sit through one of his sermons, I would open the music issue to some hymn I didn't know, and concentrate on learning the rhythm and seeing if I could figure out the tune by eye. (I tried to pick hard stuff for this.)  I could usually concentrate to the point where he faded to a dull buzz.

  •  find the religion that matches your views at (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, Elizabeth D, lgmcp, dfisk

    ever tried ?

    I was raised ( reared?) Catholic but stumbled across Unitarian Universalism and found it was much more to my liking.

    •  Beliefnet is quite the interesting site (5+ / 0-)

      Taking the Belief-o-matic self-diagnostic test at Beliefnet is rather intriguing. Try it!

      I found that I had to take it several times in a row to narrow down a range. For instance, depending on how I slanted my answers, accomodating for the frustrating phrasing of certain questions, I came out as Unitarian/Quaker/Liberal Humanist/Atheist/Pagan. As you might expect from that I am very suspicious of most mainstream  denominations (Christian and otherwise).

      Mahatmas Ghandi:  "I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

      And yet, with parishes like Maura's, there is always cause for hope.  May they grow and prosper!

      The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function -- Edward Teller.

      by lgmcp on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 06:50:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's really sort of interesting (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Maura in VA, Ahianne, libnewsie, lgmcp

        to a lifelong Catholic to find that "Roman Catholic" is  rated at 39% (something like 19th on the list).  I guess I should have been born a NeoPagan or a Liberal Quaker.

        I really have to work on that...

        Welcome to the U.S.A.E.

        by celticshel on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:28:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, the scoring is based on specific articles (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Maura in VA, sobermom, libnewsie

          of dogma, and one's full personal agreement with them -- rather than on family tradition, cultural affiliation, etc.  

          One could quibble with the weighting or emphasis given to certain planks in the various platforms.  But the bottom line seems to be that very specific theological positions are what technically differentiate most denomoninations.

          However for most people I suspect the technical definitions are almost moot.  Picky details of the theology are far less important than flavor and clan continuity.  

          For myself, I adore cathedrals and Gregorian chants and Renaissance art, and I have a lovely collection of my grandmothers' rosaries ... but I'd have to agree with a much larger proportion of the platform before I could ever consider myself a Catholic, or even any kind of Christian.    

          The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function -- Edward Teller.

          by lgmcp on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 08:28:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I was raised Unitarian (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Maura in VA, Lefty Mama
      and found Episocopalianism. Of course, I sit in church and listen to our dean preach and keep going "Oh, what she just said is SO Unitarian sounding!"
  •  Welcome back, Maura (4+ / 0-)

    I am very sorry to hear about your dad.

    I am glad to see your name up on a post again.

    Here in Montgomery County, MD, I hear great things about St. Rose of Lima parish - that's where the progressive Catholic Dems flock to.

    •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...for the warm welcome.  I've actually heard of St. Rose of Lima, too...I forget from who.  Perhaps another Kossack or DFA-er that I've met in DC at some point.  Great to know there is another haven for progressive Catholics in the DC area.

  •  Joy, Rain, Perspective... (5+ / 0-)

    Maura, glad you wrote and don't want to discourage you in writing diaries or attending church, but with the appointment of Benedict, the church is going backward.

    As a native Californian, I have seen girls as altar servers many times, for many years.  I have seen 'semi-openly' gay priests and openly gay eucharistic ministers and church staff and participants.  Unfortunately, I think we will see these things disappear.

    If I thought John-Paul was conservative, I could not envision Benedict at this time.  As recently as last week, the pronouncement was made in San Francisco that the new bishop does not support adoption by gay men and women.

    While I always 'got something out of' going to mass, I stopped going altogether when the final straw for me was how the church (mis)handled the child abuse issue. Another major nail in the corpse of my faith was how vocal the church became regarding catholic politicians and withholding communion, attacking liberals, etc.

    The church stopped getting my money long ago, in protest, now they don't get me.  I always defended the church's SLOW cultural lurch saying I preferred a church that was slow and deliberate to one that was reactionary or easily moved with current hot-button issues.  But I cannot defend a church that is going backward - and it is.

    Dominus vobiscum ;-)

    Changing America 1 cup at a time... "I'm not a Liberal, I just use my brain."

    by coffeeinamrica on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 06:01:26 PM PST

    •  I hear you (4+ / 0-)

      I hear that currently the big theme in my local diocese is that the Catholic Church is the ONE, TRUE Church and those who don't accept that are going to hell.  When my church-attending friend told me this a week ago, my jaw dropped.  It's as if Vatican II and John XXIII never happened.  I know there are pockets where churches like Maura's are hanging on but I wonder how long those pastors will be able to hold out.  When I hear things like my friend passed on, I do fear that what you said--the Church is headed backward--is more typical than not.  

      •  Yes (4+ / 0-)

        I'm dumbfounded by the rise of fundamentalism and rightward shift of the country in light of demographics alone. I anticipated more diversity, liberalism and secularism.

        To say nothing of what the impact of a supposedly 'more educated' poulation - in terms of college grads and the 'enlightenment' provided by some talk shows since Phil Donohue.

        There seems to be NO accumulated, retained wisdom and knowledge that propels us forward.  There is only ignorance and re-learning.  Wish I knew why?

        Changing America 1 cup at a time... "I'm not a Liberal, I just use my brain."

        by coffeeinamrica on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:00:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Church attendance (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sobermom, libnewsie

          In my diocese, my friend tells me that a recent survey indicates that only 40% of all registered Catholics attend church regularly.  At the same time, we don't see anyone concerned at all about the 60% who are registered in parishes but don't attend at all or only sporadically.  Yet, no one in the local diocese seems concerned about this at all.  It has to be affecting the ability of many parishes to continue to operate, yet we hear nothing about this drop-off.  I wonder if any sociologists are looking at this phenomenon.  I would think somebody somewhere would be curious about this.  It makes me wonder why this is being treated so "quietly".

          •  You think that's bad? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            libnewsie, 3goldens

            The Joliet, IL diocese, which has been repeatedly been rocked by sex-abuse scandals, believes that about 1 in 4 of its parishioners go to Mass regularly.  

            The 40% figure sounds distressing, especially to those who believe missing Mass without a good reason is a mortal sin (letting one's hellfire insurance lapse), but Mass attendance has been around that level for decades.  It's more like olds than news.  

            On the other hand, 40% is probably close to the figure for Episcopalians, and it's not exactly something that we boast about.  

          •  Occasionally (0+ / 0-)

            The church has made noise about reaching out to "unchurched Catholics," but nothing particularly consistent or vocal that I am aware of.

            Don't know about sociologists, but could be similar to those who do not vote in democracies.  I think Europe's church attendance is below 20%.

            Changing America 1 cup at a time... "I'm not a Liberal, I just use my brain."

            by coffeeinamrica on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 01:21:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Welcome Back Maura (6+ / 0-)

    Many of us Catholic Democrats around and I'm glad to count you among us.  {{{HUGS}}}

    Parishes do differ and sometimes widely so. You wouldn't think so but they do. If you don't like the one you are part of, it's always wise to try a few others till you find one the fits you best.  If you find a parish that is really bad...please do call the bishop to complain.  

    My great-uncle was a Monsignor (He passed away in 1990.) One of the things my mother often did was to visit parishes with her family that the Monsignor had gotten complaints from.  We would go to church there for about a month then tell the Monsignor what we had observed.  He knew that if he went himself that the parish priest would be on his best behavior so he couldn't find out if the complaints were valid.  The top things we were to look for then were drinkers and political speech (political speech then did also include abortion and gay topics).  

    Some of the things I hear now would have had the Monsignor all up in arms.  I do hope there are men still in the Church that care as deeply as he did. You would have loved him as much as I did, even Irish like yourself.    

    I have a Polish cousin that just retired as a Priest last year.  Hard to consider him really retired though as he still fills in for other priests for at least one mass every weekend and he has a list of shut-ins, visits hospitals and nursing homes.  He's terribly busy for a supposibly retired person but he likes it that way.  

    Any ultra-conservative priests didn't come from my family...we've done our best to give you the nice liberal ones. Granted we are imports from Poland and Ireland, maybe that's the difference?  

    The parish I belong to now has a priest from South America that is wonderfully liberal...his top priority is helping the area poor.  He hasn't once mentioned abortion or anything about gays in his homilies and we do have more than one gay couple in our parish that I've noticed every Sunday.    

    •  It's scary, (5+ / 0-)

      how great a difference which parish you belong to can mean.

      My mother and father both grew up in a parish in which, till the late 1980s, women who got pregnant before they tied the knot were not allowed to have a Mass with their wedding.  In the parish they moved to after they were married in the late '60s, unwed mothers could have their babies baptized without so much as a raised eyelid.  

      Don't even get me started on that first pastor's abortion-means-excommunication speeches.  But God forbid he be in favor of social programs to help unwed mothers or--gasp!--a better-designed welfare program.

      Welcome to the U.S.A.E.

      by celticshel on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:00:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They do (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Maura in VA, sobermom, celticshel

        The biggest factor in what a parish is like is often the Priest assigned to it.  Many people will follow a priest that they like or attend another parish if they don't like the priest that the makeup of those that attend a parish doesn't always reflect who lives there.  

        I know I always speak adoringly about the Monsignor but he was also my substitute grandfather.  My grandfather, his youngest brother died quite young (before I was even born) so the Monsignor filled in for him.  He attended my school events like Grandparents Day and concerts.  He attended my High School graduation even though it was my cousin (Priest) that got to hand me my public high school diploma.  After he was transferred by Pope John Paul II to a neighboring Diocese, he still drove 2 hours (one way) to go to all my events and those of my brothers and sisters.  In kindergarten and 1st grade, he was invited back again to tell us some Irish folklore stories.  His charming Irish accent never failed to win them all over.  In later grades, he was popular with his knowledge of Irish history.  

        When one of my teachers questioned how I could have a Catholic Monsignor as a grandfather, he explained that he already spent half of his life keeping his wee brother out of troubles...he felt it was part of his life's mission to make sure his departed brother's  children & grandchildren grew up to be more like him than his brother.  ;)  It worked.  

  •  Maura, (5+ / 0-)

    I'm so sorry about your dad. I didn't know. But I remember seeing photos of him during the Dean campaign and hearing your stories. He seemed like a great guy.

    This is a diary with an important message. It's very personal, but it goes beyond that because there are so many things people are denied by others because they're not the "right sort". Don't let anyone stop you, indeed!

    Take care! I'll keep you and your family in my thoughts.

    Speech in this country is free, you hack!

    -5.88, -6.82

    by Debby on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 06:14:03 PM PST

    •  Thank you! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ahianne, libnewsie

      I am actually really touched by how many people remember my Dad from the Dean campaign, even though he really only went to one event!  I wrote a lot about how he came to like Dean, though, and I guess some of that was very memorable to people.

      A friend posted about his death in comments on Blog for America, and I was amazed to receive a couple dozen cards from Dean campaign friends (most of whom I've never met in person!) saying how they remember my Dad from the campaign and were sorry to hear he had died.  It was really moving to me how close those Dean campaign bonds still are!

  •  Catholics (7+ / 0-)

    who vote GOP are Goddamned blasphemers and hypocrites of the highest order.

    Abortion?  Gays?  Stem cells?  Christ never mentioned them.  Not once.  Didn't make the final cut into the NT.

    Humility?  Peace?  Helping the poor?  Forgiveness?

    Lots of direction in the NT on those issues, folks.

    Frankly, the pope can kiss my ass for being such a divisive, misdirecting douchebag.

    The so-called Christian Right, of any sect, are modern day Pharisees and should be scorned as such.  Personally, I refuse to acknowledge them as Christians.

  •  Catholic Protestors For Social Justice (8+ / 0-)

    came out in droves this weekend to oppose new immigration legislation targeting illegal aliens, variations of which are being batted about Washington D.C.

    The GOP, in an effort to crank up the election cycle machine and rouse its cranky base, jumped into the immigration pyre last week, it seems, and the result appears to be an uprising by not only the Latino/Hispanic population en masse but also devout Catholics, who have been comingling with the GOP because of their "faith based" intiative stance and their anti-abortion rhetoric.

    These same devout Catholics now find themselves at odds with the Bush Administration because of their history as strong advocates for social justice and helping the poor, as part of their religious responsibility.

    Here is part of a Catholic Online National News article, covering protests by Catholics in Washington D.C. on March 7.

    Very, very interesting stuff.

    Thousands of people, many of them Spanish-speaking immigrants, loudly voiced their displeasure about a House-passed immigration bill with a large rally outside the Capitol March 7.

    Protesters holding an American flag join thousands during an immigration rally on the west lawn of the Capitol in Washington March 7. The crowd was protesting a House-passed immigration bill that they contend would allow law enforcement authorities to prosecute social-service workers and others who help illegal immigrants. (CNS photo)

    The bill would stiffen penalties for undocumented immigrants and their employers, and Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles has said church and charitable organizations would be subject to prosecution if they aid immigrants. The Senate is considering its own versions of immigration legislation.

    Father Jose Hoyos, head of the Spanish apostolate for the Diocese of Arlington, Va., drew sustained cheers from the crowd when, at an interfaith prayer service that was part of the rally, he said, "I want to pray for all the representatives and the senators and the president of the United States, because they have become atheists -- because if they were Christians they would not pass this kind of law."

  •  I hope this is the beginning of (8+ / 0-)

    an exciting new trend, where people can gather to celebrate life, and learn how to cope with life's disappointments, make new friends, and meet new people, no matter what their faith.

    This is uplifting and thanks for sharing!

    inspire change...don't back down

    by missliberties on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 06:35:31 PM PST

  •  Well (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elizabeth D, sobermom, Ahianne

    I am put off by the "hostility" that many on this community have toward the Catholic Church. I am a Democrat who is also proud to be Catholic. I love the Catholic church. I don't agree with its stances on birth control, abortion, and gay rights; but I understand why they have those positions. What bothers me is the "intolerance" I've seen toward the Catholic church posted on "progressive" boards like this and others. The church isn't perfect, but it still has done a lot of charitable work for the poor and the needy. Catholic Charities has been very effective in helping the less fortunate. I would hope that people would not forget about that aspect of the church.

    •  at least on this thread (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elizabeth D, sobermom, Ahianne, celticshel

      most of the "hostility" is being expressed by Catholics like myself who don't think the church is representing either them or the Gospel very well any more.
      I don't see very much intolerance in this current discussion.
      Here on dkos, I have seen some very ugly intolerance of any believers by some loud atheists. You seem to be referring to a specifically anti-Catholic bias that I don't think I've seen.

      The Four Horsemen of Bushism: War, Corruption, Hypocrisy and Greed

      by esquimaux on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 06:59:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Be here long enough (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elizabeth D, sobermom, Erin, libnewsie

        and it comes from time to time. I don't necessarily agree with some of the church's teaching, but it has done a lot of good for the poor. When the Pope died last year there were a few offensive posts about his death.

        However, of importance is understanding why Catholics gave 52% of their votes to Bush in 2004. This was once a group that voted 2-1 Democratic.

        •  I've got no stats, (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Elizabeth D, sobermom, Ahianne, 3goldens

          just a personal opinion.

          It seems to me, in recent years, that the Catholic Church values "You Must Obey Our Rules" far more than it values "We Help Inform Your Conscience So You Can Live A Good Life."

          That, it seems to me, is a philosophy George W. Bush can really get behind.  It's not about living your life the best way you know how with him.  It's about living your life the way he decides is best.  

          Free will and George W. Bush don't really get along too well, you know?

          Welcome to the U.S.A.E.

          by celticshel on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:10:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  It doesn't seem as though (7+ / 0-)

      people are hostile toward the beliefs of the Catholic Church.  If anything, they're expressing their sense of betrayal that their Church doesn't seem to embrace all of its members.  

      I like being Catholic, but I don't really like the Church.  I'm not hostile toward it, but it's difficult, often, for me not to feel betrayed by it when the same people that taught me as a child to "Love My Neighbor" are suddenly placing limits on the neighbors they feel worthy of any love.  

      Too often, it seems to me that the institutional Church is teaching bigotry and intolerance--toward women, toward GLBT, toward anyone who doesn't agree with it.  I was taught, when I was young, that everyone is a child of God, and that everyone is worthy of forgiveness, which is why we should not judge them.  To me, that's what being a Catholic means--not being anti-abortion or anti-birth control or anti-gay. I'm not sure the institutional Church remembers that anymore.  If it does, it's doing a poor job of getting the message out.

      Welcome to the U.S.A.E.

      by celticshel on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:06:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I understand (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Maura in VA, Elizabeth D, celticshel

        I don't agree with everything the church stands for, but it does do a lot of good charity work.

        •  Yes. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Maura in VA, sobermom, Ahianne

          Nothing is all good or all bad.  It's hard not to expect everything we see as good from a church, but churches are made up of human beings as fallible as we are.  What makes me cringe is when not only I, but they, forget that.

          And you're right--they do a lot of good charity work.  Catholic Charities adoptee speaking, here.  :)  Here's hoping the church is working to foster the idea of charity across-the-board, in people's hearts rather than only in church agencies.

          Welcome to the U.S.A.E.

          by celticshel on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:16:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Good deeds vs. divisive teaching (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sobermom, Ahianne, mataliandy

          I strongly share your views on appreciating the good charity work of the Church while not always agreeing with the Church's stand on some issues.

          In my Dad's obituary, we asked for donations to Senior Nutrition Services of Catholic Charities in lieu of flowers, in recognition for the amazing work that this organization does with senior citizens in my parents' community.  My dad got home-delivered meals for the last year and a half of his life.  They were specially prepared for him to accomodate his need for a diet that was low-sodium and appropriate for a diabetic with end-stage renal disease.  They charged $3 per day for this service as a "suggested donation" - they would have given it for free if he could not afford to donate anything.  For many homebound seniors, the daily visit from a kind Catholic Charities worker is just as valuable as the food itself.  No other agency in our area provides a comparable service at this price.

          The same week the obituary appeared, the controversy about Catholic Charities in Boston erupted, with so many fellow progressives calling Catholic Charities a hate group because they were forced by the bishop to stop processing adoptions rather than allow adoptions to gay couples to proceed.

          I found that whole situation so heartbreaking.  I really understood the visceral rejection of and anger toward Catholic Charities for this policy (though its worth noting that CC lay leaders opposed the bishop's decree and I believe the lay Board of Directors resigned over it.)  But while I understood the anger, I also had to defend the organization as a whole because while it is NOT perfect and lay Catholics must pressure it to improve, it does SO much good for the neediest people around the world.  

          The reason that I feel so at home at OQLP is that the parish is all about LIVING your faith -- that being a Catholic doesn't mean going to Mass.  Mass is a way to re-charge your spiritual batteries, but living the faith every day means serving others, helping those that Christ taught us were as worthy of love and dignity as everyone else.

  •  Welcome back to Arlington, from a fellow VA (6+ / 0-)

    In the past couple of years people have been talking about the need for Democrats to talk more about their faith.  While I agree with this sentiment somewhat, I was moved by your words to alter my perceptions.  I realize that we don't need to talk more about our religious beliefs, we need to take back our faith from those who have hijacked it for a conservative agenda.

    Though I am not Christian I do believe Christian Democrats need to reappropriate their faith from the Right Wing Christians who do not truly celebrate the teachings of Jesus, but focus instead on peripheral issues mentioned infrequently in the Bible.

    Welcome back to your faith. I hope you continue to reach out to others who have become disconnected from their faith because they are uncomfortable with those who have truly abandoned Jesus in favor of the ravings of men like Pat Robertson and Bill O'Reilly.

  •  Good to see you again (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maura in VA, Elizabeth D, libnewsie

    Hi Maura!

    Good to see you posting again, past disagreements aside. :) Perhaps you can help bring some sanity back to these parts. I'm very sorry to hear about your dad, but I'm sure your mom must appreciate you very much in trying times like these.

    Hang in there, and keep posting.

    •  Thank you! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      A gracious welcome means a lot from you especially!  I hope all is well with you.  And I hope that a lot of the wounds from the '04 Congressional primary have healed, especially since most of us agreed on far more than we disagreed on.  Working to help elect David Englin last year was a great opportunity for me to connect with so many of the great people who worked on Rosenberg's campaign.  I've even exchanged kind emails with Jonathan Mark!  ;-)

      I've been watching the Webb/Miller primary from a distance right now and see some of that familiar passion and internecine animosity developing among Dems in NoVA.  I hope we can weather this and emerge stronger in unified opposition to the odious Allen!

  •  St. Francis Xavier - Kansas City Missouri (6+ / 0-)

    Fr. Ruhl is shaking things up in KC.  About three weeks ago, he RAILED against this "immoral, illegal war."  I had shivers!

    The Kansas City diocese basically said vote Bush or don't vote in 2004.  It made me sick.

    Way to go Father Ruhl for helping build a community that allows me to "go home."


    Jim Talent(less) does not represent the people of Missouri. Support Claire McCaskill.

    by aimeeinkc on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 06:58:34 PM PST

    •  One decent and courageous priest... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sobermom, libnewsie

      ...can make all the difference.  It's like some others have mentioned in comments here -- you can go to three or four parishes and feel conflicted and ambivalent, but then find one that just clicks and makes you feel back at home with the Church.  

      I just wish all of us had a local parish that could click with us in this way, since they seem increasingly few and far between.  (Which is why I sometimes have my weekly worship with my Kossack Brothers and Sisters at a Pastor Dan service!)

  •  Thank you for this diary! (4+ / 0-)

    I gave up Catholicism as a teenager ( I was an atheist for many years) and just returned a month ago. I am intensely glad to be back. I also wound up in a really excellent and welcoming church where the pastor (and everyone else) has been so kind to me, and I'm really shy IRL. I like that Catholicism isn't specifically liberal or conservative. I like celebrating communion with people I know I disagree with politically. One day an Opus Dei priest said Mass, another time it was a Franciscan priest... Catholicism isn't monotone; it isn't all one thing or another. Christianity is about nothing if it isn't about reconciliation and unity in love. I come to Daily Kos to be with people I agree with about politics. I go to church to be with people I agree with about faith. In the Venn Diagram of religion and progressive politics, I'm in the overlapping portion, and I believe I can be fully accepted in both circles.

    •  incidentally (5+ / 0-)

      Since somebody commented upthread that university churches tend to be of the more "open, loving" sort, this church is on the University of Wisconsin, Madison campus, which it's fair to say is a hotbed of progressivism. But based on the intercessions people ask for during Mass, there is a blend of political perspectives. I haven't seen anything overly political one way or other other there.

  •  Great post (6+ / 0-)

    I'm sorry to hear about your father, though.

    I'm in the process of converting to Catholicism, and have been fortunate enough to find more than one parish where I've usually felt at home. I have been horrified by attacks on John Kerry and others, but Catholic Democrats also have supporters. Anyway, I can relate to a lot of the feelings you're expressing. Catholicism can be wonderful, but sometimes the institution seems to have its priorities messed up. The way I experience it in my own life, though, it's very much an expression of the values that I hold.

  •  It's a real dilemma for me, and it always will... (9+ / 0-)

    be one.  I had my first faith crisis while attending Notre Dame in the late 70s, and I've had many others since then.  I've had a particularly serious one since 11/04 that still hasn't quite gone away.

    I'm still angry about what the institutional Church did to give us 4 more years of death, destruction, greed, dishonesty, and a whole slew of other unchristian things.  The archbishops of St. Louis and Denver openly challenging Kerry's bona fides as a Catholic, breaking tradition by not inviting the nominees to the Al Smith Dinner (so as to not give Kerry a stage), a large local parish in Miami inviting W and giving him an election-eve photo op...the list is long.

    Whatever one may think about Kerry's view on abortion, his views on just about everything else are a hell of a lot closer to Church teachings than W's are.  Plus, W paid homage to a long-time citadel of anti-Catholicism, Bob Jones U, in 2000.  That act, in and of itself, should've earned W the permament emnity of the Church.

    It's kind of ironic that immigration has suddenly become such a hot button issue given the GOP's position and the Church's position are so much at odds.  Lemme see, you have abortion on one side, and you have capital punishment, war/peace, economic justice, and, now, immigration, on the other.  Should be a fairly easy choice, but the obsession w/ abortion means that it probably won't be.

    It was entertaining to see ardent JP II groupies like William Bennett and Peggy Noonan start openly dissenting when the pope openly opposed W's less than excellent adventure in Mess-o-potamia.  Really wish that we could see a little more of that.

    Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

    by RFK Lives on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:10:11 PM PST

    •  Yeah. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Maura in VA, sobermom

      11/04 was it for me.  Disgusting here in Michigan with Pizza Man Tom Monaghan's (Opus Dei) bought and paid for "Sanctity of Marriage" referundum distributed to every parishioner in MI.  High glossy brochures complete with Brides and Grooms on the run.
      The seven dioceses went so far as to launder the contribution even as the diocese pleads poverty to close more inter-city parishes.
      The bishop (Maida) sent a strongly partisan and coded message about who to cast a sinless vote for.  Nary of word of protest from any priest or community.
      I couldn't take it anymore.  I let the dead bury the dead and left my home parish.

      •  In 1960, JFK had to convince Protestants... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Maura in VA, sobermom

        that he would be independent of the Vatican in making public policy decisions.  In 2004, Kerry was attacked by many in the Church hierarchy for being independent of the Vatican in making public policy decisions.  It will be interesting to see what happens the next time a Catholic is nominated.

        My post-11/04 faith crisis lingers on b/c it didn't result from a discrete event that was over and done w/ and could, after time, be forgotten.  That election is a gift that keeps on giving.  The disaster of NOLA (a very Catholic city), the ongoing disaster in Iraq, and the beating of the drums for an attack on Iran are all, to a certain extent, the responsibility of my Church.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 06:02:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Welcome back, Maura (4+ / 0-)

    As you can see, we've missed you. My condolences on the loss of your father. I can't imagine what a comfort it was for your parents to have you there with them all this time. That was a fantastic gift from you.

    This is a wonderful diary. Thanks so much for the good news.

    "I have a philosophy about elections. I believe issues divide and values unite."--Gov. Brian Schweitzer

    by Joan McCarter on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:16:23 PM PST

    •  The greater gift (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mcjoan, Avila, libnewsie

      I know this is incredibly hokey to say, but it's totally true.  The greater gift was what I got out of the whole experience, far more than what I sacrificed to be here.  It was an honor to be able to help my dad.   And now that he's not here, I can feel acutely how much he gave to me all this time that I was giving to him.  I'm just lucky that I was able to do it.

      •  I know what you mean (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Maura in VA

        The last seven months living with my sister and b-in-law and cancer and everything has been horrible in so many ways, but such a gift in others. Hard to explain. Don't get me wrong--I'd give anything for this not to have happened. But getting to spend all this time with my sister, as adults, has been amazing.

        "I have a philosophy about elections. I believe issues divide and values unite."--Gov. Brian Schweitzer

        by Joan McCarter on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 10:06:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Cheers (7+ / 0-)

    I don't know what it was about the event itself, but the selection of the new Pope Benedict made me rediscover my Catholicism.  And I'll be goddamned if I'm going to let William Donohue and his hate speak for me and my religion.  Time to stand up.

    by mattgabe on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:18:12 PM PST

  •  Tough to do (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maura in VA, Elizabeth D, sobermom

    Our hierarchy is a disgrace. Now that Repub Congress wants to criminalize Christianity in the immigration Bill they are finally concerned with the monster they helped to create - hyprocritical bastards.

    the meek shall inherit the earth

    by Howaboutthetruth on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:18:46 PM PST

  •  A Bright Spot in the Catholic Church (6+ / 0-)


    I have been to Our Lady Queen of Peace, and I knew your beloved former pastor.  I recall his dynamic preaching at the Dignity Mass in Washington D.C. back at the time of the Stonewall Twenty-Fifth Anniversary.

    It is good to hear that your parish is carrying on today in the great tradition that I remember.

    So while I am a democrat and share your hope.  I can also say that I am a Catholic priest, and rejoice that there are still places like OLP where the gospel comes to life for so many pushed to the side by society and by the church.

    Thank you.  

    •  Yesterday (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Avila, sobermom, Ahianne

      During the homily, Father Tuozollo actually got choked up a number of times (with joy and humility).  One of them was when he asked us to imagine what the former pastor - who was such an adamant supporter of altar girls - would say on this happy occasion.

      I was never lucky enough to hear him preach before his death, but I have read many of his homilies online.  And when my friend introduced me to OLQP, I remembered reading about his death some time earlier in a big article in the Post Style section...I remember wondering, "What? There's a Catholic parish around here where the parishioners so fervently loved their gay pastor and so lovingly embrace him in his death from AIDS?  Sign me up!!!"  That article alone didn't get me to go to my first Mass there (I was still too alienated from the Church at the time) but the memory of that article coupled by my friend's urging inspired me to give it a chance.

      Thank you for sharing your hope here.  I rejoice that there are people like you in the ministry.  Thank you.

  •  Yes, Yes, Yes (5+ / 0-)

    I'm convinced that there are millions of Catholics , like the diarist (and me) that, to paraphrase Reagan, feel they haven't left the Catholic Church, the Church has left them.

    I'm sick of going to parishes where the homilies sound like talking points for the Republican Party. Exceptions would include Transfiguration Catholic Church in Marietta , Georgia (where a nun said during a homily that national health insurance is a pro-life issue(!). )

    This diary really hits home for me. Thanks.

  •  tough being a Catholic Dem these days (8+ / 0-)
    we get shit from all sides -- the religious-right fringe of our faith for not worshiping the fetus above all else -- and other progressives for being associated with a faith that has a dogmatic patriarchial hierarchy.
    I decided several years back that I was going to fight from the inside, that no one could take my catholicness away from me, unless they excommunicate me. I've got a progressive parish in Chicago, St. Gerturde's on the north side, and a pastor that lets us push many envelopes -- allowing (encouraging) women to preach from the pulpit, eucharistic ministers (I'm one) who attend the priest during the consecration, and has a strong social justice tradition. Our pastor even recently called for the resignation of the cardinal -- whose been negligent in protecting children from sexual abuse.
    My faith is very strong, and I'm sick of people suggesting I leave my church for one whose views more closely match my own. What really resonates with me is Andrew Greeley's, "Why I'm still Catholic."

    When you're going through hell, keep going. -- Winston Churchill

    by valleycat on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 07:28:00 PM PST

  •  Great Diary Maura (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maura in VA, sobermom, libnewsie

    And if I haven't expressed my sympathy over your loss, I'd like to do so here.  I hope attending the aforementioned service helps to bring your mom out of her depression.  You are and have been the best of daughters.

  •  My condolences as well (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maura in VA, libnewsie
    I'll add my condolences for you and your mom, and add that it's good that you found this comfort for both of you now.

    I feel uplifted and inspired EVERY Sunday but then I go to a progressive Episcopalian congregation. I'm always amazed at how many former Catholics I meet there.

  •  Me, too! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maura in VA, sobermom, Ahianne, libnewsie

    I have a happier church experience, I suppose, even though I am an Anglican convert and have only "been" Catholic since Easter 2000. Since I am that rarity--a Catholic singer!--I participate in Mass as a cantor almost every week.  I have a mostly easy-going Southern parish; despite being strongly Republican, it's very non-vocal or judgmental in that way. But I have heard stories such as yours.

    I'm with you--I can't figure out when being theologically conservative stopped being complementary with being politically liberal.  I tend to think that it's everyone else who stopped paying attention, not me.  

    Anyway, enjoy!  Always hold that as a New Covenant people we may choose grace, not the law, especially when in doubt!

    "Never think you've seen the last of anything." --Eudora Welty

    by gazingoffsouthward on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 08:00:49 PM PST

  •  Take a sabbatical. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maura in VA, sobermom, Ahianne

    I find it healthy from time to time to take a long interlude away from the church.  I am Catholic right down to my DNA and recognize the gift and curse of being born Catholic.
    The best thing you can do is put it in perspective and find alternative means of expressing the joys of community, mercy and forgiveness.  You can find abundant examples of such in nature and evironmentalism and engaging with communities who share you worldview apart from christianity.  I believed the Holy Spirit has been meted out in abundance beyond just the church.
    Bringing those experiences back to the "table" can only build up the body of one very poor and destitute institution which seeks to hide its poverty of spirit and intellectual atrophy.  The church acts like a "Father" when in fact it is a desperate and bewildered child afraid of the world as it is.  It tends to seek its consolation in the after life of a communion of saints - the dead - rather than understanding that life is found in the here and now.  The phenotype was set with the original 12 who cowered at the prospect of losing their Rabbuni, and would've remained shuttered in their apartment if the H.S. didn't kick their ass to get out there.
    So when you leave the church it might be a sign of something kicking your ass to get out there, and quit hiding behind some pretty dreadful hopes in a church triumphant and blind.
    And it doesn't mean the church won't welcome you back on your terms of what discipleship should be.

  •  Most conservative diocese (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maura in VA, sobermom

    I've been under the impression that Lincoln, NE is the most conservative.

    Lincoln's bishop has refused to allow women to be involved at all, and still does.

    In fact, I think the Lincoln diocese is the last holdout.

    I'm happy for you and my condolences.

    If only you could send some of that good prgressive attitude to our bishop here.

    I'm not a Catholic, by the way. But I see the tremendous influence that extremist versions of the faith can have on all sorts of things in this country.

    Where is your bishop on the death penalty?

    That's a big bone of contention around here.

    Full disclosure:

    I'm the Executive Director of Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty.


  •  Maura (0+ / 0-)
    My father's death four years ago changed my life in so many ways.  Please accept my condolences.  
    •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I've been showered with so much kindness and understanding from other daughters who've lost their fathers.  No matter how complicated the relationship between dad and daughter, what we daughters seem to have in common is how much more strongly the loss of our fathers has hit us than we expected it to be.  I mean, I knew I'd miss him terribly, but I didn't realize how much his absence would become a presence in my life.  

      A comment from an "oldtimer" like you means so much!  :-)  

  •  Thank you! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mcjoan, socal

    I've got to head off to bed, but hope to continue replying to so many of these great comments tomorrow.  I'm so happy that this diary has touched so many people in a positive way.

    And what a wonderful return to being a diarist at DailyKos -- thanks for the recommendations and the outpouring of kindness.

  •  I was an altar girl in 1985. (5+ / 0-)

    My family belonged to a small parish in a town of 16,000 (NE Louisiana). When the boys at my Catholic School started getting out of class to learn how to serve, I was insanely jealous. Even at that age (fourth grade) I knew something wasn't right. I had been raised to think I could do ANYTHING. My mother encouraged me to talk to our I marched into the rectory and asked for a meeting. Surprisingly, he listened and agreed with me. A few weeks later, the gray-hair ladies, with their chapel veils and 1962 Pre-Vatican II Missals, were whispering about the girl serving mass. It wasn't long before most of the other girls were serving mass too. At the time, I did not know how lucky I was.

    I drifted away from the Church during college, and have since found my way back to the Church, but in a much larger parish and city. St Matthew's is in the process of applying for minor basilica status and is listed in the historic registry. The architecture is gothic, with huge statues and painted ceilings. It feels So Old... but the focus of the church is all about social justice - caring for the poor, the sick. The Vincent de Paul society is very active in this community. And although most of my parishioners are conservative, and most likely republican, everyone checks the politics at the door. The homilies are focused on giving and serving one another. Petitions are offered at every mass asking for an end to the war and for peace with Iran and China.

    At the beginning of this past Advent Season - at age 30 - I found my way back into a cassock and surplice and began serving mass again. There were a few eyebrow raises - but they all got over it and I have been overwhelmed by how many people stop me at mass and out in the public to thank me for serving.

    Earlier in the comments, a mention was made about how much difference the particular parish can make and I completely agree with that. I've never been told how to vote and I can't remember any candidate even being mentioned at church.

    My deepest sympathy for you for the loss of your father.

    A fish will be the last to discover water. - Albert Einstein

    by VexingEyes on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 11:04:26 PM PST

  •  Wow. That's really cool (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maura in VA

    I'm still not going to move back to Virginia, and won't become a Catholic again, but that's cool.

    And sorry about your dad. Loosing a parent sucks (as does the loss of any loved one) It gets better. Tell your mom.

    Who would have tought that watching "The Land Before Time (IX)- Journey to Big Water" would become a subversive act?

    by mungley on Mon Mar 27, 2006 at 11:44:00 PM PST

  •  Religion isn't Politic, isn't Private Life ! (0+ / 0-)
    Thanks for your sincerity. Best regards for the memory of those who left us.

    I understand political greed is all over America, but please, let's not forget the "sacrosaint" separation of Church and State that define modern democraties.
    Catholics believers shouldn't be political activists, but act for social justice out of principles. Those principles should be firm enough to be part of what holds politicians accountable for their actions. Not the way around.
    If fundamentalists Christians have copied Muslim fundamentalists in calling on God to justify their political extremism, Catholics shouldn't follow on that level.
    Of course, there have been deviance and even heretic stands, in abiding to political warlords agenda recently. But religion should keep on it's own field anyway. And simply denounce hypocrisy.
    Some evangelist demand assassination of foreign leaders; powerfull trends lead by "Judges" say they hate Abortion more than Incest(!!!); others fear peace agreements more than Torture; and many reject Scientific evidence thus dramatically belittling the scope of the Church message. And it is the same trends that "advocate" Social Darwinism as an objective Evidence.
    Those are religious principle issues that are even bellow politics.
    And if people flock to fundamentalists as political or football bashers do, it's mainly because their life is broken, out of any framesets. They need reassurance, security, to bind a life they canno't look at. How come so much want to be "reborn". How come the same one who underwent the fullfledge experience of the 60's, is now teaching a 'clean' religiosity to his own children, in a way that even his grand-parents generation found outrageous bigottery ?
    So family value must be taken care of, by Democrats too.
    As for me, I don't find anything reassuring in knowing that a priest is gay or whatever. Aside from the marital question, aside the anti-pedophile campain, I just think sexuality is a private matter that shouldn't mix either with religion or politic.
    Again, I'm sorry, and for complete freedom on that level, but trying to get the gay agenda mainstream, is a political drag that Democrats have to get around, cleverly and without renoucing any stand. Specially if no one can forebid that Presidential election and Gay marriage proposal be 'married' on a same pooling day !
    This is not being against the gays, or asking them to hide their feelings, but reassessing the independance of private matters with politics.

    PS: I myself like the Catholics because they are not prown to believe in any dangerous new Prophet, or marvelous new Era..., and because you find a lot of atheits in their mist - a good proof of tolerance. I also usually like gays, because they don't clog to mainstream on every issue to hide their doubts, and usually they don't fear dissent.

  •  What a wonderful and inspiring diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maura in VA, sobermom

    Thank you so much, Maura.  I often despair at current church leaders' pandering to the American political far-right and their abandonment of Jesus' teachings of peace and love and charity.  Your story gives us hope that all is not lost.  Thanks again, and my deep condolences on the loss of your father.

    Francine Busby for Congress -- CA-50 -- Special Election, April 11

    by socal on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 03:48:42 AM PST

  •  Ah, Maura (0+ / 0-)

    You made me cry.  


    "The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love." ~~ William Sloane Coffin

    by puddleriver on Tue Mar 28, 2006 at 12:07:02 PM PST

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