What’s so Bad About Being Catholic ?

Fairly frequently, especially at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, I hear people putting-down or disparaging the Catholic Church. Sometimes when people are sharing their thoughts and feelings at the meetings that I regularly attend they preface their monologue with statements such as “I’m a recovering catholic.”

Every time I hear such a statement it sort of bothers me because in AA we are regularly trying to accept personal responsibility for our actions.

Through the years I have heard people blame the Catholic Church for a wide range of personal problems that were most likely caused by their own actions.

Among the problems that I have heard people blame on the Catholic Church are the breakup of marriages, relationships and friendships, stress and anger issues and even the development of one’s personal alcoholism.

As a child I was raised as a catholic and I attended catholic school in seventh and eighth grades. To this day my most prized possession is still the small crucifix that I received as a gift for my First Holy Communion more than 40 years ago.

While the Catholic Church has had to endure the shame and outrage of scandals caused by some sick, twisted priests it has remained true to its values and ideals and has been able to weather the storms of controversy well.

In actuality only a small percentage of the many devoted priests practicing worldwide would ever be involved in such horrible, sickening behaviors. The same holds true with some financial scandals involving catholic priests. It is only a small minority of priests who would ever consider doing such bad things. The majority of catholic priests are still faithful and devoted to carrying out the work and message of the church.

Sometimes I like to ask friends, family members, neighbors and aquaintances what they think of the Catholic Church. While some people are quick to point out the scandals that have rocked the church and others claim that the church’s teachings are outdated, most of the people that I talk to maintain pretty good opinions of the church. More than once I have heard people remark on how beautiful the Catholic Mass is.

It would only be logical that some practicing catholics would not agree with every single stance that the church takes on social issues. But one’s personal opinion on any issues differing with the church’s stance doesn’t mean they have to stop practicing the faith.

Out of curiousity I decided to research online how many catholics there are in the United States as well as the total number of catholics there are worldwide. According to catholicculture.org there were 67.1 million catholics in the United States in 2009, making it the largest ecclesial community in America. By going to catholicnewsagency.com I learned that in 2009 there were 1,181,000,000 baptized catholics worldwide. With numbers like that it’s easy to see that there are plenty of people who might ask “What’s so bad about being catholic ?”