What Francis Means to Bad Catholics Like Me

I’m a bad Catholic. I know this because I have been told countless times that Catholics cannot pick and choose which parts of their faith they want to follow. That’s precisely what I’ve done for a very long time.

I’ve viewed Catholicism as a buffet, choosing the parts I can stomach. Yes please, to helping the poor in my hometown and around the world. No thank you, to not allowing priests to marry or women to be ordained.

During the height of the sex scandal, I interviewed people who were sexually abused by their priests. They shared their heart wrenching stories, and I sat with them, part of me worried they would ask me my religion. They always did, and I always told the truth, but I almost felt I owed them an apology for choosing to stay connected to something that fostered or protected such evil.

I almost left the Catholic faith after I listened to a priest give a sermon about how the U.N. was a “miserable failure” and the war in Iraq was “good.”  My husband and I had an awful fight in the parking lot afterwards.  Unlike me, he wasn’t apoplectic, saying he had tuned out that priest and prayed his own prayers. I, on the other hand, had almost burst a vein in my neck looking around the church during the sermon, incredulous and desperate to find someone whose outrage matched mine.

I didn’t leave the Catholic Church, but I did leave that church.

Pope_Francis_at_VargihnaThen along came Francis.

I swear I just smiled typing that sentence.

Pope Francis, who threw off the tall, Popey hat and the ornate, Popey robes and threw out his arms — to us.

From the backseat of his official car, a plain ol’ Ford Focus, he has shaken up the Church in a way I didn’t think I would see in my lifetime. Not everyone agrees with everything Pope Francis has done. I don’t agree with all of it.

But what I hear him saying is Judge less and love more. 

That’s some Back-to-Jesus basics.

That’s also a tall order, because we are brilliant ‘judgers.’

Typical democrats,’ ‘typical southerners,’ ‘typical republicans,’ ‘typical women,’ ‘typical this and that.’ 

Us and them. Them and us. It’s quite effective.

It ensures we will remain separated — clearly and distinctly and safely. It ensures we will not understand each other, nor respect a point of view that differs from our own.

Just today, Pope Francis removed more road blocks, making it easier for Catholics to annul a marriage after they get divorced.

I am a divorced Catholic. I still won’t annul my first marriage.

I learned too much. I loved too much.

It was worth it because it led me to my life today, a place where, dare I say, I just might recommend the buffet.




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4 comments on “What Francis Means to Bad Catholics Like Me
  1. Jaye, As usual, an excellent article and insight. I do feel this Pope is on the right track to bring people back to God, if not the Church itself. I simplified my annulment…it only meant a “church” annulment, not a civil one, and it allowed me to get married in the church again. I paid nothing for it. I too was horrified at the sex scandal, and had to just keep reminding myself that these men were men first…not priests. I would not let myself blame the entire Catholic Church for the sicko’s that brought the shame to the institution. Once again, institution. Love the tradition of it, love the mass and communion, but my relationship with God is a personal one, not a Catholic one. The Church is one road of many that tries to sort out the highways and byways to heaven, but we all know, the only road is our personal relationship with God…in or out of Church. I too may be a bad Catholic, but Christ is the love of my life…he lead the sinners and the tax evaders and the pagans and prostitutes…he will lead the good and bad Catholics too. As far as your comment about choosing this or that to follow in the church teachings, well, God gave us free will too right?! 🙂

  2. Dan Lynn says:

    Well said. This Catholic feels the way you do about many subjects here. I don’t like everything but it’s still the best for me. The Pope is real and grounded. He’s what we need right now

  3. CCBL says:

    I’m a descendant from a line of bad Catholics. When my great grandpa died in 1936 in his late 50s, he was deemed too bad to be buried in the churchyard with the other Slovak congregants. His death certificate said he died from heart failure. His only daughter eloped to marry her Lutheran sweetheart. Their descendants are a wide mix now: bad Catholics trying their best to be good, Protestants, Greek Orthodox, Jews and skeptics. Pope Francis has been the most welcoming face of the Church that I have seen in my lifetime.

  4. Stephanie Donner says:

    Being a very fortunate Catholic who has studied the reasons why the church believes what we do and why the strict rules… In my studies and my best efforts to live out these teachings. I have seen the truth and beauty of them…. And found God’s presence in them… Although we can not understand some rules etc. at the beginning… Take a step of Faith to live them and many times then it becomes clear.

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "What Francis Means to Bad Catholics Like Me"
  1. […] I’m not Catholic, and I don’t play one on TV. Jaye Watson is Catholic, but probably doesn’t say so in her job as a TV news reporter. She calls herself a “bad Catholic” who loves Pope Francis for shaking up the church. Read What Francis Means to Bad Catholics Like Me […]

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