Free. Of the stultifying pronouncements of clergy at the highest levels far removed from the lives of people on the ground. Free. Of the biases of tradition that have their roots, not in the Gospels but in the circles of power at the Vatican. Free. Of the burden of being viewed, not in the light of the Gospels, but in the shadow of a deeply flawed Church that is still in denial, that has not plumbed the depths of its shame or truly begun its process of self-renewal yet feels divinely authorized to seek out the speck in the work of women living the message of social justice.
Hawaii should be a hospitable place for Catholics wanting to share the breath of Life with all. But recent events have demonstrated that it is not entirely so, largely because of the official stance of Church officials. While the many Catholic schools, hospitals and nonprofits do so much for the community, there is a distinct chill from the official Church and an active animus towards the LGBT community that has left many Catholics feeling estranged from and embarrassed by what the institutional Church does in the name of Jesus.
I start this blog hoping to find community with those who, like me, had the great blessings of a Catholic upbringing and a Catholic education. I loved and still cherish the Franciscan convent education I received in Malaysia. I love the prayers learned in childhood from my mother. I love her grounded, abiding faith and her wholehearted surrender to it. But I want no part of the unconscionable treatment of the LGBT community and women by the institutional Church.
A Church that views the ordination of women and the sexual abuse of children by priests as sins of comparable gravity is a church that has become toxic for women and children and has traded introspection for the intoxication of power.
I want to hold on to what I love best about being Catholic: the robust intellectual tradition of people like Thomas Merton and John Henry Newman; the spirit of Francis of Assisi; the meditative grace of the Eucharist and the Memorare; the core call to social justice that is central to the Gospels and to the message of Christ in parable after parable; the contemporary spirit of people like Sr.Joan Chittister and Rev. Roy Bourgeois, the interfaith sensibility of Fr.Raimon Panikkar. I admire the eloquent among-the-people Christianity of Michael Eric Dyson. I don’t want to evangelize. I do want to welcome. I do want to say that I am Catholic and in so doing have it immediately and unequivocally understood that I am willing and ready to share the breath of Life with everyone. I want, as a Catholic, to be able to say Aloha and mean it. I want to be catholic and free.
Dawn Morais Webster