Why I left the Catholic Church
In Cologne, the hotline responsible for church exits has collapsed due to congestion. And not because of technical problems, but because at the moment more people than ever want to leave the church. The most topical reason for this: an opinion by the criminal lawyer Björn Gercke, which will be published in full on 18 March, attests to the archdiocese significantly more cases of sexual abuse than has been assumed up to now. Among them is the case of a priest who was retired by Cardinal Woelki of Cologne in 2017. The cardinal also faces a lot of criticism for refusing to publish an opinion from 2020.
Like so many People of Cologne, I had the moment when I was fed up with the Catholic Church. I come from a religious household and my family volunteers in the church community. When I was a child, I was a ministrant for years and even led group lessons. I have enjoyed the activities, the singing and the community mostly very much, I have not had any bad experiences. So why, after 20 years of membership, did I decide to turn my back on all this?
I did not leave because of the church tax.
Because as a student fed by my parents, I don’t have to pay them at all. The thought that I would eventually pay them and perhaps an abuser would receive his salary from it made me shudder and was also a reason to go to office.
Women are discriminated against in the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church is based on the voluntary and also the paid work, which is often done by women. Unlike men, however, they are denied high positions and senior positions. Woelki justifies this by the fact that the Church is allegedly not authorized to offer ordination offices for women. Evidence of this is drawn from the statements of two popes, not even from the Bible. One only has to imagine if a company would deny women access to the management level in its policies. There would be lawsuits, the whole thing would go to court, because such a practice is not in accordance with our Basic Law. In the Catholic Church, however, this is simply still practiced, there is no will for change in this statically dusty male society. Women are allowed to do the lower work, to clean, to look after the children of the congregation and even to become a secretary to the pastor. What else do they want?
Here we go to an interview with a young woman who is fighting to become a priestess.
The Catholic Church dictates to its faithful how to have sex.
In my opinion, this is not something that concerns anyone but me and my sex partners, but the Church even has guidelines for it. They have been old-fashioned and hardly relaxed even under Pope Francis, who is regarded as “modern”. Thus, sex is only allowed in marriage (which is of course only possible between a man and a woman) and contraception such as condoms or the pill is rejected. According to the Church, sex should be used to pass on life, and fun is only okay if the possibility of an emerging pregnancy is not ruled out.
I can’t put into words how weak-minded I am. Are women now allowed to stop having traffic after menopause? And people who know about infertility? On barren days in the female cycle? What if couples want to adopt? The Church dismisses the subject with discarded commandments, refuses to deal with sex per se at all. I think yes, they are embarrassed. The rule “sex only in marriage” is far from the reality of most people. The Church stubbornly ignores the fact that partnerships today are not necessarily designed for the traditional family image of father, mother, child(s). And instead of adapting to people and their preferences, the Church remains rigid and thus becomes a place that offers a point of contact for fewer and fewer people. I really have no sympathy for the Church’s running away.
Homosexuals are disadvantaged.
The current Pope is, after all, a true reformer. He advocates for homosexuals. At least for registered partnerships, and he even says, “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family.” What more do you want?
The irony of denying homosexuals a human right does not make the Pope a saint now. But this tiny lesser discrimination was a scandal for the jammed, conservative church. The fact is that homosexual practice is dismissed as a sin, the Pope is against marriage for all, gay priests are denied a place in the seminary because of their sexuality. In NRW, a gay teacher was not taken over after his legal clerkship. The problem, however, was not homosexuality, but that he wanted to marry his partner. Yes, that really pushes the boundaries of tolerance. Are you still getting married? Absurd what they want to do.
The fact that there are also other sexual orientations and even different gender identities than women and men has not really reached the Church. But even if they eventually notice, I’m pessimistic that they’re welcoming and kind to queer people.
The Church promotes toxic marriages.
According to her, the covenant of marriage is indissoluble, divorce is only possible in a few exceptions. Those who divorce must expect to be disadvantaged, and those who even remarry with even more serious ones. The pressure to remain in a marriage in order to be faithful to the Church or not to lose the recognition and opportunities of participation in the congregation is great. It is natural for people to live apart, for love to pass and relationships to fail. Instead of helping these people and giving them support for a healthy new beginning, the Church urges people to stay in their unhealthy relationships. This can be fatal for people who suffer from domestic violence, for example, because they often need the hold of faith the most.
Abuse is a structural problem.
Sexual abuse of minors, among others, is not an isolated case in the institution of the Catholic Church and is facilitated by some risk factors such as celibacy (the celibacy of priests). More and more cases are coming to light, but instead of transparent information and procedures, we see a cover-up and no great will to break up the suffering-producing structures.
I grew up and questioned the education I received. I cannot stop the values i am taught, including the Christian ones, but I consider the Catholic Church to be an institution that betrays its own values. Charity, justice, selflessness? I can see nothing of this in the old men who cling to their power and are unwilling to question their view of man and the world. When I remember the stories of the Children’s Bible from my childhood, Jesus has always helped those who were in trouble, the outsiders, the outlaws of society. Wouldn’t that be the task of the Church? Taking care of all those who are already being put in the way anyway? So the very women, the queers, the victims of violence, poverty, war and abuse? Instead, the Church re-enters, no, it is even the cause of why all these people are disadvantaged.
The issues of equality and discrimination became increasingly important to me and were a contradiction to my membership in the Church. I wanted to position myself clearly, for the rights of women, of people living and loving, of victims of abuse. When I moved away to study, I had also lost all positive points of reference to the Church, nothing held me.
Now, for many who share my beliefs, the Church is still an important part of life. I do not want to deny anybody the faith or give the impression that one has to leave the Church for moral reasons. First of all, faith is not bound to the Church, and one can be a believer even without the institution. You are not a Christian because you go to church, because you are not a car because you go to the garage. And then there are so many church members who are fighting for equality and enlightenment, who want to make the Church a tolerant place. One such example is the women’s movement Mary 2.0. I would like to pay tribute to you at this point, and although the Church is no longer my place, I hope that her efforts will bear fruit.
source. Original article in German.
(Google translate being used)