Lapsed Catholics, come back

Sheila Cassidy, the doctor who was tortured in Chile in the 1970s, has written another book. It is called Confessions of a Lapsed Catholic and although its title naturally depresses me, I thought it worth a blog – if only to disagree with her conclusions.

When I describe Dr Cassidy as a ‘liberal Catholic’ I am not launching into an ad hominem attack on her. She sounds warm, funny, kind-hearted and generous. But her thinking on matters Catholic is seriously muddled. One of the reasons she has given up being a practising Catholic is that she is angry with the Church for being – well, the Church.

She asks: “Why can’t Anglicans receive Communion?”

She comments: “Roll on the day when Catholic priests may get married and when women can become priests.”

“The Men in Rome…who work in the Vatican and who write the rules” make her furious on the subject of condoms and contraceptives: what do they know of life, love and relationships? “Where has the institutional Church gone wrong?” Etc etc.

Her problem, as is always the case with the liberals, is that they try to drive a wedge between Christ (a good thing) and the Church (a bad thing), not realising that you cannot separate the two. Blessed John Henry Newman answered Dr Cassidy over a century ago, when the liberals were beginning to raise their cacophony of voices: “And I hold in veneration/ for the love of Him alone/Holy Church as His creation/and her teachings as His own.”

We don’t go to weekly Mass to feel good; often the liturgy is patchy, the homily irritates, other people in the pews are distracting and our thoughts keep sneaking to the Sunday roast. If we have young children, the effort to keep them quiet is exhausting. What do we ‘get out of it?’ Nothing except the knowledge that we are doing what God asks us to do. One step enough for me.

The good Doctor now finds God more in other people, animals, poetry, the sunset and in life around her than in the tabernacle. Tell that to Mother Teresa: it was because she spent hours in adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament each morning that she was given the strength to find God in ‘the poorest of the poor’ and doubtless in all the other places where Sheila Cassidy finds him.

Without being too psychological, I think one of Cassidy’s problems is that her faith has not matured. She rejects the God of fear who sends people to hell for eternity if they deliberately miss Sunday Mass – the God she was taught about in childhood. What she needs is time with an orthodox Catholic psychotherapist (if such a person exists) who can guide her through this distorted idea of God. And perhaps she should tune in to Michael Voris on You Tube, about whom William Oddie has blogged so well today. I have long been a follower of Michael Voris; whenever I don’t ‘feel’ like praying, going to Mass, being faithful to the other Sacraments, such as Confession, he always gives me a shot in the arm: a good, strong and succinct reason for staying with the Church.

Recently I blogged about the author Anne Rice. She, like Cassidy, is now a lapsed Catholic because the rules of ‘the institutional Church’ have offended her. I would say to both of them: Come back; the Church is much wiser than we are; she knows we need the rules in order not to fall apart; and behind the rules is the infinitely loving God that we all long to know and love in return.