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A NYMM Writer’s Experience Growing Up Catholic

The views and opinions expressed within this article by the author do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of New York Minute Magazine or its associates.

To be a Catholic is to live a religious life rooted in tradition, the Scripture, and the established status quo. This is why former Irish president Mary McAleese’s call for Pope Francis to tear down Catholicism’s “walls of misogyny” is shaking the establishment to its core.

Growing up in a Catholic Latino household that held traditionalistic views of men as the breadwinners and women as the caretakers, I frequently questioned why I couldn’t do the things my older brothers could do. I remember hating that my father’s response was, “because you’re a girl and girls don’t do that.”

Pope Francis’ apprehension toward lifting the ban on ordained female priests works within that same attitude. Jesus’ apostles were all men, therefore, only men can be prominent leaders in the Catholic church.

It’s 2018. It’s understandable that there are women devoted enough to the religion that they’d want to become ordained priests, and that they’d want to belong to a religion that is inclusive and equitable because women are capable of leadership.

But it’s hard to change tradition.

The highest woman authority figure I ever saw in the church was the office director for my parish’s youth group.

As a kid, I attended mass, participated in the acts of Confession and Communion, and sat idly muttering memorized prayers to the point where I could do it subconsciously without glancing at the mass pamphlet.

But as I grew, I began to gather my own views on social issues – views that didn’t agree with the church’s stance. Strike one occurred when I was old enough to understand the depth of the scandals brought to light by The Boston Globe surrounding priests abusing children. Marriage equality has long been a hot topic of debate in the Catholic church and has generally been deemed sinful. As a member of the LGBT community, that felt like strike two. Strike three occurred when I began to feel like my parish was putting more emphasis on monetary donations rather than the cause for donating.

The regulations of how I could or couldn’t live my life pushed me away. In my eyes, the church’s view on a great deal of many social issues bothered me, and perhaps I’d feel different if there were more leaders in the church that I could identify with – progressive leaders, for example, who advocated for the inclusion of LGBT members and for gender equality as a whole.  

To question the way something works in the church is to question the overall religion and the way the world works. The cogs and gears mesh together, but, when there is pointed question, it can throw a wrench in the system – one that’s been working and ticking for thousands of years. Perhaps this is why, although Pope Francis has stated he wants to integrate more women leaders in the church, it hasn’t been done.

But it is time for change and wider acceptance within the Catholic church. A common belief within the religion is that humans are all God’s children and he accepts us for who we are – so why can’t the hierarchy accept women being prominent leaders?

“How long can the hierarchy sustain the credibility of a God who wants things this way, who wants a Church where women are invisible and voiceless in Church leadership?” said McAleese in her address at the Women’s Day event.

The time is now – thousands of years after its founding. Why? Because women are stepping up and providing insight in order to push for the opportunity to show their potential.

Featured Image by Long Thiên on Flickr

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