You may have read an earlier piece where I discuss some of the many things I dislike about the Catholic Church: its stance on birth control, views on gays, and the patriarchal system. If you have, perhaps you’ll think I’m somewhat of a hypocrite when I share that last month my son was baptized. You may be wondering why I decided that my son would be a member of a Church in which I find so many flaws. Well, I didn’t come to the decision lightly but ultimately, my reasons to baptize outweighed my reasons not to do so.
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RELIGION: TRADITION AND FAITH
For me it came down to a couple of important factors: firstly, tradition. I went through all the Catholic rites of childhood: baptism, check. Communion, check. Confirmation, check. Youth group, check. I attended Catholic schools from kindergarten on, and I even attended a Jesuit University for my undergraduate degree. In spite of my reservations regarding some of its teachings, the Catholic Church has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. It seemed almost natural to want to pass that along to my son.
Secondly, I do not want my son to grow up without faith, without some type of belief system. Yes, I can teach him what is right and what is wrong, and things like “don’t steal” and “honor your mother and father,” but I felt that was not enough. I don’t want him to grow up not believing in a Higher Power. I’d like to think that there is more to life than what is here, that there is a Heaven and there is a God, and I wanted to share that with my son, so that he could grow up having faith in something. If it is a Saint or the Holy Spirit, I’m ok with that. All religions have a belief system and some version of the Golden Rule “Treat others as you would want to be treated.” I have chosen to instill some of that in my son via some form of religious adherence.
Lastly, there are some things that I love about the Church: its sense of social justice, the good work it does through Catholic Charities, food pantries, help for immigrants, caring of the sick. Pope Francis has renewed some of my faith in the Church, because his actions have shown that he is a simple man who wants to help the less fortunate.
JESUS: JUST AND WELCOMING
The Catholic Church bases its teachings on Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the Messiah. Jesus was considered a revolutionary and rebel during his time, even a radical. Jesus did what He thought was right, many times going against the teachings of his religion, Judaism. He ate with prostitutes and healed the sick. He believed in what was right and just. He welcomed children and He forgave even those who betrayed Him. So, the essence of what the Church should be (Christianity based on Jesus’ teachings) is not tainted. It is humans who have created religions that discriminate and exclude. I believe that if Jesus were around today, he would probably welcome Gays and women into the priesthood. If we were to follow Jesus’ example, we’d live in a different world.
I am happy with my decision. Ultimately, all I can do is lay the groundwork. I’m not going to be a tyrannical mother telling Enzo what he can or can’t believe. (Like that would work, anyway!) When my son is old enough, he will measure the pros and cons and will make the decision that is best for him. Perhaps, when he is old enough to figure things out on his own, the Church will have changed and become a more inclusive place, where women can be priests and priests will be able to marry. I can only hope!