I am not a good Catholic.
I have not been to confession for over 20 years. I don't go to mass and I don't give money to the church. More importantly, I am gay. I know that the church teaches that simply being gay is not sinful, that acting on those impulses is. But I suck at being celibate, which is a good thing because my husband really enjoys my non-celibacy. All of this probably means that I am actually not a Catholic anymore, but I can't deny that I was just a little bit hopeful that a new pope might soften the church's stance that gays are "intrinsically disordered." However, based on his track record, I think Pope Francis is just another pope on the same rope.
"I don't believe in everything the church preaches," my friends say when defending their attendance at church. They are talking about divorce, birth control, abortion and various other sundry sins. "Cafeteria Catholics," that's what they're called, picking and choosing their beliefs leaving out the bad tasting stuff. They question why I can't just do the same thing. Here's why, who I love and how I love is labeled as a sin. I can't and won't accept this.
It was a long shot to think that a new pope might bring about a softer stance. But it became apparent to me during the elaborate pomp and circumstance of the conclave that the only way the church hierarchy will alter its message is if the spigot of money is turned off.
The Economist reported last year that the American Catholic Church spent approximately $170 billion dollars in 2010; of that amount just 4.7 percent went towards charity. Billions have been paid to the victims of rape and molestation by American priests and millions have been channeled to anti-marriage equality causes. The Catholic Church is an economic and moral mess.
I know that there are wonderful priests and nuns out there doing exceptional selfless and charitable work. Many people say that their church and priests do not preach hate. This may be true, but each and every one of those churches are funneling money towards the hierarchy that is responsible for the rape of children and its cover up, the spread of AIDS in Africa through the condemnation of birth control and the perpetuation of the myth that gays are intrinsically disordered and sinful.
When you plop a five or $10 bill in the collection plate on Sunday, you are not picking and choosing your beliefs -- you could be supporting the machine responsible for some of the most heinous crimes against humanity and the perpetuation of hate.
I may be a bad Catholic. I most certainly am a sinner. But, I am not a hypocrite. I will follow Pope Francis' words and give my money to the truly needy, not the Catholic Church.
Let God be my judge.
William Dameron's personal blog is The Authentic Life