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Misconceptions about Catholicism needs to change

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Sarah O’Connor / Silhouette Staff

Whenever any sort of religious conversation surrounds me, I always feel myself shrink, afraid to pipe in. Whenever such conversations occur, someone almost always mentions Christianity and how horrible followers of the faith are. This is when I find my voice. Half afraid, I say, “I’m Catholic.” And obviously conversation ceases. Everyone is now afraid of offending me.

There is a certain stigma associated with being Catholic. Being Catholic, as defined by non-Catholics, means I hate gay people, I obey the Bible word for word, and I go to church every Sunday.

Not living by these rules would mean I’d have to face a dreary eternal afterlife in Hell.

Because of this unfortunate stigma, I feel the need to defend myself and other Catholics who are forced to deal with this stereotype, because really, not all Catholics are closed-minded, as the media likes to portray.

Being Catholic does not mean I hate gay people. Gay people are people, plain and simple. And while some Catholics like to use the Bible to quote and prove this “sinful” way of life, I like to think that God has modernized in his way of thinking since then. Catholics should also realize that the Bible is an unreliable source of information; it’s been written and re-written too many times during history for anyone to know where the real Bible starts and where the edits come in. Some Catholics should also realize that they shouldn’t believe everything they read.

I’ve heard many good theories as to why the Bible says the things it does and why there are so many contradictions. The popular theory is that the Bible is not meant for fact value, but for its lessons. My favourite is that the Bible is written with so many contradictions so readers can read past them and realize the true meaning of the it. I don’t take the Bible word for word, because it is not factual.

It is something to learn from and something to question, but it isn’t something to base one’s life entirely upon.

I do go to church ever week, Saturday evenings instead of Sunday mornings, but this is my decision. I know of many Catholics who only go to church every so often, only during the Christmas or Easter seasons, with some going only on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. I like going to Church because it lets me be close to my faith. Being at McMaster, this is my first time being out of a Catholic school system, and while it is a nice break, I find it nice to go to mass every week to learn what is going on in the Church this week.

I am also an altar server, a duty I’ve been a part of for nine years. Again, this was my decision; I don’t know many people from my elementary or high school that decided to become altar servers. It is a very small group. I joined because my ten year-old self thought it would be fun to help prepare things for the mass, and I did and still do enjoy it. But with the recent accusations in the past few years against priests doing horrible things to altar boys, I do see a trend with the number of new altar servers during the past few years. There are only five boy Altar servers at my church, four of whom are in university and one who is in high school.

The remaining fifteen or so altar servers are girls, all of whom are in high school or university, except one who is in elementary school.

While it is not directly said, the obvious lack of altar servers is because of parental fear that their children will be abused. After nine years of altar serving and two priests, I have never been abused, nor have any of the other altar servers.

When I became an altar server, there were too many of us; the regular number of altar servers at mass at that time was about eight (the regular number is five). Then, of course, the older altar servers went to university and college, and there were only three altar servers per mass. While the number has risen a bit in the past few years, there are times where very few altar servers are able to serve a mass.

This stigma faced by Catholics and priests needs to stop. How can it be right for people to falsely accuse someone of sexual abuse without proof?

While there have been many priests found guilty of such things in the past few years, it doesn’t mean every priest is a sexual assaulter.

No one has the right to falsely assume someone is bad without knowing him or her.

I am Catholic, but I’m not crazy. I disagree with many things the Bible says, as well as the sexual abuse that does go on in some churches.

I hate how, instead of these bad priests being arrested (like normal criminals), they are hidden in the Vatican. Out of sight, out of mind.

But I realize that not every priest is like this.

Not every priest does horrible things, and not every Catholic believes what is written in the Bible verbatim.

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