Live Issues... Church
Confessions of a Lapsed Catholic

by Kathy Budreski

The scandals inside the Catholic Church have tested the faith of many people. Kathy Budreski gives a personal account of her difficulties in the Boston diocese, where Cardinal Law eventually had to step down.
I was raised Catholic by two-second generation parochial Irish Catholic parents who lived out their religion on a daily basis and loved their church. Mom was active in the Sodality and Women’s guild at church. She attended Mass daily. Dad was a member of the Knights of Columbus. We attended Mass every Sunday and daily during Lent and Advent, as well as Benediction on Sunday afternoon. I went to parochial school from fourth grade through high school and experienced a rich, albeit, biased religious education.

Up until last year, I too, like many of my peers, dedicated my life to my church. I taught CCD classes for over twenty years in three different parishes, attended Bible study groups, did Cursillo, Marriage Encounter, and was a Lector on Sundays. I served as a missionary nurse in two foreign countries, Columbia, S. America, before I had children, and Dominican Republic in 2000.

After my third child was born, I went to Emmanuel College and got a certification in Educational and Pastoral Ministry. Currently, I am an ecumenical Parish Nurse for four churches in Chatham.

Unlike my three grown children, who are no longer practicing Catholics, I have never taken a time out or steered ‘off-course’, until last year, when the priest scandal broke. I, like many other Catholics, had questioned and disagreed with certain issues but remained faithful until this happened.

This has been a difficult time for all Catholics. We have been in bereavement mode, feeling shock, denial, anger, sadness and finally, acceptance of the reality of what happened. We have felt shame, embarrassment, betrayal, depression and outrage. Many have left the church. Many have chosen to stay.

I wrote a letter to Cardinal Law expressing my feelings and asked him to resign. I joined the Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) organization and attended meetings in three churches. We are no longer allowed to meet in church buildings but continue to meet in public places (schools and libraries).

We met with resistance when our diocesan bishop banned VOTF from future meetings in the church. We must now pay to rent space in public buildings. My husband and I have attended meetings in Orleans (in church basement before the ban), Brewster (library), Sandwich (high school), Falmouth (library) and Cape Cod Community College. Given the resistance of the bishop in this diocese and his refusal to meet with this organization, changes have not been effected in our diocese.

With every crisis comes opportunity. This crisis has given me an opportunity to stop and take note of who my church is and what it represents. One definition of religion is, ’Religion is the organized method of practice, participation and structure that defines what we believe’ (Seicol 1995). The crisis has allowed me to clarify my own values and realize the incongruity that exists between them and the church of my birth.

In my search for meaning, I have intensified my studies and have derived much solace, spiritual renewal and insight in the teachings of Buddha, Christian Mysticism, and Celtic spirituality.

On a recent trip to Ireland, I met a Celtic priest, who was originally a Roman Catholic Marist father, on the Aran Islands. He is now married with three children and celebrates a weekly Celtic Mass on the ancient Celtic ruins. He has chosen a different path and is living out his authenticity and spirituality in a non-traditional yet sacred way. This gives me hope.

I am attending several different churches these days, where there is more inclusiveness. There are married clergy, women priests and ministers, and all are welcomed, regardless of gender, sexual preference or religion.

Last year, I heard Bishop Gail Harris preach a joyful welcoming homily at the Episcopal Church in Chatham where she invited everyone to the communion table regardless of their church affiliation. It was refreshing to be in the company of a black female bishop lovingly calling all forth. This gives me hope.

I have spoken to a spiritual counsellor and spent a lot of time in prayer and meditation. If I die tomorrow, I don’t know where my service would be, but the way I feel right now, it couldn’t be in the Catholic Church. Maybe an ecumenical beach service would work. I am trying to stay in the present and to live mindfully and authentically along with the ambiguity and uncertainty knowing that the Spirit will guide me. I pray as Pema Chodrin, the Buddhist nun teaches, when things fall apart, to welcome the groundlessness and impermanence.

I do know that I can no longer be part of a church that is dictatorial, repressive, sexist and non-inclusive. I am grateful for my Catholic heritage and the priests and nuns who led me to this deeply rooted transcendent place. I will continue to pray for those good priests who had nothing to do with the scandal and who are hurting, and need our support. I hope they have the strength to stand up to authority and effect change in their institution.

It may seem hypocritical for a lapsed Catholic to be involved with the Voice Of The Faithful. I’m not sure of my motives and sometimes wonder if it’s my mom looking down from above, saying, ‘don’t run away from the problem, stay in and work towards solutions’. Or maybe it was what Sr. Jean Chichester said last fall, at Glastonbury Abbey, about being scarred by struggle and wounded yet healed by hope.

The VOTF, in my opinion, offers the best hope to renew and revitalize the RC church. These are sincere dedicated, more centrist than me, salt of the earth Catholics who love their church and want it healed. I know... I’m married to one. He is a loyalist, I am a reformer but we respect each other’s opinions.

In the meantime, I am most grateful for all of my ecumenical brothers and sisters in our community who have fed me spiritually and offered me support, especially for the Spiritual Gathering of Women, the Centering Prayer Group, the Taize Workshop, the Peer Ministry Support group and the Praise and Worship groups at all of the Protestant churches who have been their ‘sister’s keeper’.

Author: Kathy Budreski lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Source:  This article was sent to us by the author.
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