(Throughout this blog, I’m going to be referring to Catholicism quite a lot. This is only because I am a Catholic, and it’s the one I have most experience with. I am wholly accepting that other faiths might pose different challenges for young men and women, but since I’m not experienced in any other religion it would be wrong of me to refer to such and try and represent their main beliefs and values)
I have been challenged a few times about how I can be a practicing Catholic, but also a feminist. I get why it can be difficult for people to understand. This generation seems to be more open minded and clued up on ‘taboo’ issues than generations before. People aren’t scared to talk about things like sexuality and abortion, which is amazing since people were and some still are oppressed to talk about these things. However, when you compare this to the historic writings of the Church and some of it’s arguably rigid beliefs, it’s quite a stark contrast.
It’s this stark contrast that I think can estrange young people from their faith. People are arguably more accepting of sexualities beyond heterosexuality, and talking about contraception and abortion isn’t as condemned as it once was. So I get it. I get why people are asking themselves whether they want to keep practising their faith or not when their social views and religious beliefs conflict. I’m not here to tell you to go to mass nor am I here to preach to anybody. What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other, although you might be getting taught otherwise.
I went to a Catholic primary and secondary school. I made all the relevant sacraments for my age group, and now at 20 I still go to mass. Going to Catholic schools means the teaching is based off a Catholic curriculum – I am grateful for this curriculum, it taught me a lot about my faith. However, it could be seen as dated. I know that for me, sitting in a Catholic classroom hearing the Church’s traditional view on homosexuality and abortion made me quite uncomfortable. I loved my faith, and almost didn’t want to hear about the parts of it that conflicted with my views on sexuality and women’s rights. I’d hate to think that there’s young people whose sexuality is anything other than heterosexual, going through school feeling they can’t be themselves because of the prevalence of religion throughout their school. Or young people that have had an abortion, feeling like they are abnormal because they are being taught abortion is wrong.
It doesn’t have to be as black and white as this. I can understand the Church’s views on sexuality, abortion and contraception, but I don’t agree with them. It is okay if you don’t too. I can understand why people think the Church’s stance on a number of issues are dated and even problematic. It is okay for your religion and your thoughts and opinions on other things to conflict, it doesn’t mean you have to choose. This is why we have faith, to help us deal with the things we don’t understand. Anything that is troubling you, anything you don’t understand about the world or the Church or yourself, is part of your own relationship between God and yourself and your own faith journey. If you practise your faith and put it into action, God isn’t going to turn round at the gates of heaven and be like “no the night, mate” just cos you support gay marriage, and are pro-choice, or you are homosexual or you have the copper coil or you’ve had an abortion. Just be the best person you can, religion and sexuality doesn’t have to be polarized!
“The Lord your God is merciful; God will not abandon or destroy you.”