Originally posted by Angela Harlem
Does everyone or anyone really investigate where their donations, or offertory collections actually go, yolland? I'm not being entirely rhetorical, here. I wouldn't know if it is a common practice to find out what your local church does and where it sends its money. Further on from this though, I dont really buy the whole "I'm a Catholic, and a practicing Catholic, but I dont adhere or subscribe to any of their commonly held questionable values." I know plenty of poeple who are Catholic, and are great, warm and loving, accepting, non-judgemental people. They do realise though, that they are passively supporting an institution which speaks very loudly on its views which most see as disagreeable, if not outright appalling. I do not agree on this basis with the clear conscience part. I do not know how they reconcile it personally, and that is not my business, what anyone does with their personal place in larger things. And also, I certainly dont agree that writing to any political office will achieve anything. I know it is a common practice there to enthusiastically voice complaints to your member, but here it's not a big thing, really.
Well, I did say chance
at achieving something, lol. I do participate in letter-writing campaigns fairly often myself, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't but to me it's sort of like voting--no, my one individual vote isn't literally
going to make a difference, but it's a participatory thing; I can't very well claim to "support" a grassroots campaign if I can't be bothered to do even that much, and obviously none of them would succeed if enough people hadn't done the same. As far as investigating where offertory collections go, you'd have to ask your Catholic friends about that; certainly I know where my synagogue's charitable funds go (though Jewish philanthropy, while "legally" required, more often takes the form of giving directly to independent charitable organizations).
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on the "passive support" thing--I do understand your argument, and don't support my own unqualifiedly, but I doubt that "providing support" to the Vatican, national bishops' conference, or whatever is at all a way your Catholic friends ever conceive of what going to Mass signifies. For most people of whatever faith, it's not about signing on to some particular sociopolitical agenda but rather a combination of communal spiritual practice on the one hand, and connecting to an ancient legacy they understand themselves to be part of on the other. The latter does entail "support" for certain broad ethical principles of course, but those require interpretation and it's just a given that your personal interpretations won't always be synonymous with those of whatever church as an institution. Obviously there are some
gradations involved here; I wouldn't stay with my denomination if the rabbinical assembly was funding targeted assassinations or something, that's a bit too far gone to be reasoned with, but in general I'd prefer to stick with it and press for reform from inside (which is how our religiously-sanctioned-gay-marriage reforms have proceeded thus far; it really is a grassroots-driven thing), because otherwise I'd be abandoning a legacy I love and respect and believe in to people I don't feel live up to it, even if I might admire them in other ways. As a general rule Jewish religious organizations aren't much on lobbying to get Jewish principles enshrined in secular law (e.g., opposing civil gay marriage), but if they were I'd also use the same tactic these Catholics For A Free Choice do, seeking to oppose the republican (note small "r") theocrats from the governmental end as well.
For me, dealing with it all by just walking away would amount to a deeply painful self-betrayal, and I'd have to see an awful lot of irredeemable evil in the people I was relinquishing my stake in it to in order to justify it to myself. Which I readily concede is a subjective call, and one not my right to judge other people for making differently; ultimately these are wholly personal choices.
Originally posted by Ormus
The structure of the entire Catholic Church is setup in a completely undemocratic closed loop of power to the point that ordinary Catholics have zero power.
You have to understand that Roman Catholicism has one major difference from other Western Christian religions: there is no tradition of schism, so to say, whereas Protestantism was molded from it. As such, if you're a Protestant and have an issue with your denomination, you're more inclined to pick up your things and go somewhere else. However, if you're Catholic, you've been brought up to believe that they are Christianity incarnate, pretty much, and to feel out of place in the Catholic Church, you tend to believe that it is YOU that is defective, not THEM.
Yeah, there are definitely major cultural differences in both the usual sense and the institutional sense involved there, which I'm sure affects how I read the nuances of the question. For most Jews it's somewhere in between, I think; I didn't personally find it deeply anguishing to switch from Orthodoxy to Conservatism, although there was definitely some sense of loss...primarily for things much more palapable than doctrine, which I'd imagine is true for many ex-Catholics too: all the highly distinct rituals, liturgy, intellectual tradition etc.--those things can really be deeply meaningful to people, whether or not they buy into the "Christianity incarnate" thing. Then for some there's also a lingering ethnic affiliation sense involved, I think anitram said something about this awhile back. Also, I don't think most Jews would feel they have "zero power" relative to their denominations; less at times than we'd like perhaps--and as I said, I concede that's a subjective call--but a rabbinical assembly isn't the Vatican, and for that matter individual rabbis aren't bound by what the assemblies rule, anyhow; in practice compromises do occur, but in principle each rabbi independently interprets Jewish law for his/her own congregation (plus on top of that, a congregation doesn't even need to have a rabbi anyway--the one I grew up with didn't for a long time--although most certainly prefer it, both for the legal expertise and the homiletical knack).