Anyone who watched TV during the holidays could not help but see the ads by a group called Catholics Come home. The ads are vaguely like those run by Mormons and other groups inviting Catholics who are fallen away to return to the Church and others to investigate Roman Catholicism. They invite people to investigate the Catholic Church as a spiritual home.
My reaction as a Catholic who is still observant but who is very dismayed by our Church was to ask "come home to what?"
Recently I was talking to an active female member of my home parish in suburban Chicago about the state of the community. My home parish was a wonderful place to grow up. It was the place where I learned about justice and the service to God's people. It was the kind of place where Catholics be they conservative or liberal felt at home.
When I wanted to be a Catholic Lay Volunteer I needed to raise money- and my Parish gave double the amount needed. I have nothing but good memories of the place. It was home to me and always dear but things have begun to change.
One of the areas of my home parish that was always excellent was adult education. There is this Sister who runs that program and every year major speakers came and gave missions and classes helping people learn about 2000 years of Catholicism. This is not the kind of Parish that has much patience for pictures of Jesus that talk to Polish nuns or bleeding Madonna's. It is the kind of place that Vatican II imagined when they talked about the Church in the Modern World.
To contemporary conservative Catholics the way my home parish was run is an affront. In fact
anyone who dares to hold progressive Catholic views is an affront to their interpretation of what the Church stands for. As a result whole segments of the Catholic Community are anathema. If you like the books of Thomas Merton you are not "really" a Catholic. If you think Dorothy Day and the Catholic Workers have it right you are a communist. If you think that women and gay people should be accepted and empowered you are 'dangerous'. If you dare to organize yourself against the Church's refusal to realize that pedophilia is not the result of "Homosexual Predation" as was asserted on EWTN (The Media/TV Megaphone of these Catholics) but rather the result of a stunted and perverse view of women and sexuality you are anathema.
Slowly but surely the Conservatives have driven out people. Cities that used to be predominantly and culturally Catholic like Boston are today a memory because of Pedophilia. While Cardinal Law lives in luxury in Rome still a Cardinal of the Church.
The promise of the Second Vatican Council has been traded for a Church that refuses to realize that Women, Homosexuals, Divorced People and others need to be empowered and respected. The Church refuses as well to realize that those millions of people who have left the Church may be in places where they have more power and do not have to worry about their Children.
I write this because I was told that at my home parish a speaker was not allowed to speak because conservatives complained that the sister invited used Reiki Massage in her therapy practice and this is not 'healthy'. She also dares to believe that God thinks women should preside at the Eucharist. So amid all the unhealthy attitudes using Chinese medicine techniques and believing that women are equal to men merits not being allowed to speak?
At the same time being a pedophile merits protection and "care" ?
John Paul II is a saint according to them but the fact that he and Pope Benedict ignored the pedophilia scandal here in the US and in Ireland is unimportant?
Conservative Catholic's hatred for the Second Vatican Council and everything that came from it from Archbishops Oscar Romero and Dom Helder Camarra to Guitar Masses has created a toxic environment that does not feel much like home. Deal Hudson, a Catholic Right winger who, by the way, was accused and admitted to molesting a student of his at Fordham has called all these people I love "Fake Catholics".
In fact what has happened over the past 20 years is that conservatives have decided that ignoring pedophilia as the past and current Pope have done, and love of the Latin Mass is more Catholic. Pluralism, openness and the open window letting in the fresh air of the world that Pope John XXIII tried to bring in is fake Catholicism.
So I say... Catholics Come Home.... To What??