Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Question for ex-Catholic UUs

Linguist Friend's church is in a heavily Catholic area. The church has a real issue with bitter ex-Catholics who don't want anything resembling a church and otherwise act like people who still see themselves as ex-Catholics rather than seeing themselves as UU.

"Gee," CC said the other night, "wouldn't it be a good idea to have a special 'UUism for the ex-Catholic' new-UU class that specifically focussed on issues faced by ex-Catholics?"

Linguist Friend agreed. However, he's not an ex-Catholic and he would have to find one to teach it.

I guess this is really more of a curiosity question. What special issues do ex-Catholics face?

CC
who wrote about special issues faced by ex-liberal Christians here. You don't have to write me an essay, though if you do I will read it. But a few points would be interesting.

6 comments:

Rev. Sean said...

I don't know if this will work for ex-Catholics, but we have a group we call the "Religous Transitions Group" that is 99% people leaving Mormonism. It's a discussion group, often with people sharing their stories, and there are just a few rules. The two I think are most important are:

1. All your feelings are important. You can be angry, sad, relieved, joyful. But don't get stuck.

and

2. No matter how hard your experience, it contained some gifts. Health comes when you can reclaim the gifts and walk on.

UUpdater said...

Well, I prefer the term "recovering Catholic". Technically until the Pope sees fit to excommunicate me (or any other ordained Catholic) we remain a member of the church. We can of course self identify however we want, but since the Pope has "better" ways to spend his time we will remain Catholic.

As a recovering Catholic I know all to well it is very easy to slip from bonding with other like minded recovering Catholics into all out christian bashing. I think the good Rev who has already responded has the right idea. The one thing I would add is the need to stress that although it is ok to discuss the issues one has rejected from the Catholic church, one should be mindful of the christian-UUs. There are gifts from the christian faith, and it is important to make people feel welcome.

There are a bunch of other issues which are more unique to Catholicism, like as far as I know Catholics are the only christian denomination in the US with a single authority figure (the Pope). It's strange for Catholics to go from a community that is so very dominated by family tradition, to a denomination that is mostly "ex-other religion". I could probably go on, but i don't have time.

LinguistFriend said...

Dear Dennison and UUpdater:
These are both helpful responses. Ex-Catholics are about half of the congregation in question, and indeed, as CC indicates, it is a severe problem,
which I find myself relatively unprepared to help with. What often happens in our fellowship is that ex-Catholics decide that they are humanists in a very negative sense, eg. Jesus is said never to have lived. For a number of people, I have found that it is helpful to take a view on Christianity from an early viewpoint, as in reading Pagels's books, which provide distance by focussing on a period when present religious orthodoxies did not exist. However, for another group of people, one must take a different approach to deal with the specific contemporary forms of Christianity in which painful experiences have occurred. Even once this has been successful to some extent, people may still retain expectations of a more general type, e.g. the minister may be expected to be a charismatic leader, and may even try to fulfill this expectation.

LinguistFriend

Jess said...

There's an Adult RE course called "Owning Your Religious Past: The Haunting Church" written by a member of First Unitarian Milwaukee, Bonnie Withers, which is fantastic. John's teaching it right now at Unity Temple, and Bonnie herself is teaching it in Milwaukee starting this week. It's unfortunately out of print, which John wrote about here.

I don't know that it would even need much revision to make it specifically for ex-Catholics or ex-Mormons, as it's mainly focused on bringing the positives of your religious past out of the pain so that you can move forward. Highly recommended.

indrax said...

I'm an ex-Catholic, but I became a UU largely because I missed going to church.
I guess I had it easy, I don't associate any painful memories with the church, there is no strong family tradition. The greatest friction has been my Mom, and that's more a function of being my Mom.
When it came time for me to be confirmed, I told my Mom that I didn't want to be concerned, and she told me to talk to the preist, I told him that I wasn't sure I believed, and didn't want to say I did. He Said 'then you shouldn't get confirmed' and that was that.

beth said...

I agree with Indrax. I grew up in a "liberal" Catholic church (which has since been squashed by the diocese). So I only remember days of tolerance Seders and "too far in sexual relations is your own decision."

Right now I'm going to the "Getting to know UU" series at my local "church." I think it's important to take the high rode and not bash Catholicism. Different strokes for different folks. I'm glad I found UUism.

I prefer to call myself a "Runaway Catholic" not a "Recovering Catholic" I have nothing to recover from, and I'd hesitate to say many others probably don't either.