Catholicism with Aloha

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

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5 comments on “Catholicism with Aloha
  1. Susie Roth says:

    We were taught to stand up for what we believed to be right. Your blog has the beginnings to support that belief! When we sing the song at mass ,” All Are Welcome”, I am still waiting for the day when our LGBT brothers and sister will truly believe and feel the words. Let’s keep this going…

  2. John Webster says:

    Its about time! I hope this blog will provide a much needed outlet for frustrated Catholics and even former Episcopalians like me, to rant every once in awhile about matters of faith without worrying about whether we are conforming to the expectations and sensibilities of institutional leadership. Congratulations!

  3. Sheela Jane Menon says:

    I am so proud to be the product of a mother and grandmother who have continually demonstrated that Catholicism compels us to live lives guided by compassion, integrity, and a strong sense of social justice. Thank you, Mum, for transferring that message online and for continuing to demonstrate that religion, as St. Anslem believed, is an ongoing process of “faith seeking understanding.”

  4. Joe Gardewin says:

    Great comments. I agree with you 110%. You have articulated what a great many of us think. Good luck with this blog Dawn.

  5. Pat Gozemba says:

    There is so much that is inspiring and meaningful about the Catholic tradition that I was raised and educated in for the first 29 years of my life. But in 1969, I realized that so many of the clergy to whom we were expected to pay homage had such deeply rooted sexism. Their pronouncements, such as on birth control, indicated their strategy for keeping women oppressed. I admire those who stay in the Church and try to change it from within. Take heart. It looks as if the Catholic Church will implode from within and then Catholic might mean something again to all of us.

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