A dirty little girl, her head hanging in shame
By MIRANDA CELESTE HALE - EX-CATHOLIC GIRL
Added: Sun, 19 Sep 2010 18:16:39 UTC
I cannot remember a time before I knew I was a Catholic. I knew it just as clearly as I knew that I was a girl, or that I had brown eyes. These traits were inherited, fixed, unchangeable. It took me a few years to understand that I hadn’t actually been born Catholic, and many more years after that to realize that Catholicism was optional.
Why did it take me until I was sixteen years old to figure out something so obvious? Simple: Catholic childhood religious indoctrination is chillingly effective. Its most powerful weapons are guilt and the fear of a literal hell. When a child is taught that the simple act of doubting or questioning any of the Church’s teachings is a sin, and that even the tiniest of sins can result in an eternity spent in a literal hell, they quickly learn to suppress those doubts and to feel intense shame, guilt, and fear when they fail to do so.
Think for a second about how cruel that is. To ensure that the Catholic mind virus is passed down through the generations, the Church is willing to crush children’s curiosity and to stifle or completely destroy their ability to think critically.
Then there is the guilt. According to Catholic teaching, humans are born sinners and cannot help but continue to sin throughout their lives. The only way for a Catholic to atone for these sins is to confess them to a priest, do the required penance, and be absolved. As a child, I obsessively recorded in a little notebook anything that I had said or done that could possibly be considered sinful. Then, when the time came for confession, I would recite this list to the priest, my head hanging in shame, my cheeks burning. I’d do my penance and be absolved. For a fleeting, blissful moment, I would feel light and pure and holy. But soon I would sin again, the guilt would return, the little notebook would be filled up with a record of my indiscretions, and I would return to the confessional and repeat the process over and over again.
Kenneth R. Weiss - LA Times Comments
In the Philippines, access to contraceptives is limited for the most part to those with the means to pay. The Catholic Church has fought a "reproductive health bill" in the legislature that would change that.
- - BBC News Comments
The former butler to Pope Benedict XVI will stand trial for stealing confidential papers and leaking them to the press, a magistrate has ruled.
George Eaton - NewStateman Comments
Archbishop of Glasgow: Labour MP David Cairns died because he was gay
Tom Hennigan - IrishTimes.com Comments
ARGENTINA’S FORMER military dictator said he kept the country’s Catholic hierarchy informed about his regime’s policy of “disappearing” political opponents, and that Catholic leaders offered advice on how to “manage” the policy.
Katherine Stewart - The Guardian Comments
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops in session in Atlanta, Georgia, earlier this month. Photograph: Tami Chappell/Reuters