As my father reaches the end of his life, we're all trying to do what we can to put his mind at ease and make his time happy. This weekend, out of the blue, he told me to, "Please, get out of the Catholic Church! Your money is going to pay off kids who've been abused by sex criminals, and and now you won't even know what they're saying!"
He was referring, of course, to the half billion in payouts to sex abuse victims in L.A. and what he believes to be a universal return to the Latin Mass.
My parents have always been disappointed by our conversion; they see it as a rejection of my free-thinking upbringing. It's very hard to explain to them that I embraced Catholicism BECAUSE I was raised to think for myself, since what I embraced represents to them the most superstitious and coercive aspects of organized religion that they themselves rejected.
My personal problems, of course. But Dad's plea to leave the Church leads me to think about raising our discussions about recent Church news from the parochial to the ecumenical level.
While many priests and bishops inspire non-Catholics with their speeches and writings, it's often we lay people in the pew at whom the hard questions and criticisms of the Church are lobbed. To what extent is anti-Catholicism ratcheting up as stories about Latin Masses, payouts to sex crime victims and statements about "our separated brethren" appear?
To what extent is it important to explain to our friends and family where the media or media readers have jumped to incorrect conclusions?
To what extent are church leaders aware of the questions we get from family--especially those of us in "mixed" families--and friends, and could they better prepare us to answer those questions?