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Eleven Reasons Why I’m Leaving The Catholic Church

by Guest Author on July 9, 2013

in Civil Rights,News,Religion

Post image for Eleven Reasons Why I’m Leaving The Catholic Church

Guest author Joseph Amodeo recently organized a vigil in front of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which led to the police threatening the arrest of anyone associated with the action. In this exclusive op-ed, Amodeo explains why he has decided to leave the Catholic Church.

A few hours after the events that became known as the “Dirty Hands Vigil” unfolded at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, I received the following message from a priest I know in Manhattan:

“so disappointing!!!!!!!”

Soon after, I found out that his disappointment was not due to the fact that ten Catholics were denied entry to the Cathedral, but rather with me because, in his view, I had attempted to cause scandal.

Well, I have a few disappointments of my own to share:

1. I am disappointed in bishops who have allowed financial interests to drive their response to the clerical sexual abuse crisis.

2. I am disappointed in a Church that has attempted to argue that same-sex couples and their families are somehow less able to live up to the Christian ideal than their heterosexual counterparts.

3. I am disappointed by a hierarchy that has attacked the dignity of women and LGBT people.

4. I am disappointed by a Church that feels it has the authority to silence academic voices like Sr. Elizabeth Johnston, Sr. Jeannine Grammick, or Fr. Robert Nugent.

5. I am disappointed by a Church that asserts free will and the supremacy of the conscience, but negates such teaching with a practical commandment to obedience and what it deems a “well-formed” conscience.

6. I am disappointed by a Church that has failed to meaningfully discern the inclusion of women in the diaconate or priesthood.

7. I am disappointed by the Church’s reliance on time. As we face progress, the Church has allowed its sluggish character to take hold of its conversations with the world.

8. I am disappointed by those who are afraid of the hierarchy.

9. I am disappointed by an institution that has used faith to bully public servants and has denied communion to those who have sought only to serve the common good.

10. I am disappointed by clergy who have used the pulpit as a means to proselytize a particular political agenda.

11. I am disappointed by the American bishops’ selfish claim of ownership of the principle of religious freedom.

In short, I am disappointed in the Church and its hierarchy. Standing in and looking around a Catholic Church, I not only feel as if I am no longer in my own home, but I also fail to recognize the Church itself. As a human being, I will not be a part of an institution that has allowed fear to drive its theology as is evident in nearly all of the issues that I cite above. For this reason, I have decided to leave the Catholic Church.

I am disappointed, frustrated, and saddened; yet amid my decision to leave the Roman Catholic Church, I am liberated. By this decision, I am following a conscience that leads me to believe that humanity has been created in the image of God. If we truly accept and believe this fundamental teaching, our world of judgment turns into a paradise of acceptance and compassion.

I am not leaving the Catholic Church because of any one particular issue or person, rather because I believe that the Church itself has lost sight of its meaning. A Church founded on hope and charity has become a tradition steeped in an approach that can best be described as “command and control.”

With this decision, some will argue that I should stay and continue efforts toward dialogue and the evolution of theology. On the other hand, some will say that I should have taken this step a long time ago, and still others will say “good riddance, so long.” The reality is that the journey of faith cannot be controlled by others, but rather is dependent only on one’s relationship with his/her Creator.
I now stand at new juncture in my faith journey. It is a place that can be described as both unfamiliar and yet eerily recognizable.

As I depart, I remain disappointed in the Roman Catholic Church and its hierarchy; however, I realize now that I am not joined by chains to the Church. In fact, it is the Church that taught me how to free myself from the bonds of oppression so as to constantly seek liberation. The question is when will the Church choose to loosen its own bonds so as to truly engage with the world around it?


skitched-20130709-180912Joseph Amodeo is an LGBT activist who recently organized a vigil in front of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral and who resigned last year from the board of NYC’s Catholic Charities. He is online and on Twitter.

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James_M_Martin July 9, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Nice looking guy and a spot on critic of the Roman Church. Too bad he did not give as a 12th reason the realization that God is a delusion, Jesus Christ a mythical figure with no historical authenticity whatever.

TurboKitty July 9, 2013 at 8:31 pm

I wish this addressed all religions …

BeerandOnion July 9, 2013 at 9:20 pm

I left the Church for the same reasons expressed by Mr. Amodeo plus the 12th reason added by James M. Martin in his "Comment."

eckelsburrows July 10, 2013 at 12:39 am

Joseph, and this paper made one mistake…he has left the ROMAN Church. The Old Catholic Church, based in the Netherlands, has thousands of Catholics and are a denomination that is welcoming and inclusive. They also have some top notch theologians who can tell you exactly why it IS a Catholic value to welcome GLBTQ persons as full members of the church in all ministries. Here in the US there are thousands of Old Catholic, Independent Catholic, and Reformed Anglican and Catholic denominations that not only are inclusive but who NEVER developed the culture in the clergy that led to Romanism's problems!

My own denomination, http://www.toccusa .org, has as Ecumenical Officer a very learned theologian whonis transgender, 4 bishops of every walk of life,several dioceses, and many parishes and it is only one of the many Catholic Churches that exist!

Recently, I attended a gathering of Independent Catholic Churches that had participants from all over the Eastern US. Bishop Rosemary Ananis, of TOCCUSA, was the first Catholic bishop to march in the Portland Gay Pride parade several years ago.

Joseph has every right to be disappointed, and no one, including me, would blame him for saying "Catholic Church" as he was probably taught from a young age the Romans were the only church. But, look back at the election of Francis…not all of those Cardinals were Roman. There were Melkite Greek, Slovakian Orthadox, and more. Even the Vatican itself is made up of different churches, and there are many, many Catholic churches that have no connection to the Vatican at all. Many of them are inclusive, have great child protection policies, married, divorced, female, GLBT clergy, lay leadership, and synod based governance just like the early church.

We Old Catholics pray for our Roman brothers and sisters as they go through this time of change. I prayed atthe Weymouth, MA parish that several years ago was occupied by the parishoners 24 hours a day to prevent the criminal suspect Bernard Law from selling the ground from under it. I have talked with Roman Womenpriests and Dignity members, and it is only a matter of time before the voice of the literate, educated Roman laitynrally behind some new St. Francis type and take back control of their beloved church. However much they may wish it, mass conversions in third world countries don't mean a thing until and unless those converts are truely educated and truely free of government and tribal affiliation pressures to know exactly how many will remain. Already here in the US there are Romans protesting the "new language" at mass by loudly saying the old wording…not all of them will leave.

In the end, God will save the Romans from the Vatican, but in the meantime, there are as Jesus said, "many rooms in My Father's house for Catholics, and it is erroneous and slanderous to thousands, no millions of Catholics, to paint us with the same brush!

This was a defection from Romanism as defined by the ultra conservative Vaticanites. They are not the only kind of Roman Catholic, and are as far removed from many other Catholic denominations as the Taliban is from Sufism.

gusthompson July 10, 2013 at 1:23 am

I am an Old Catholic priest and I agree with all that eckelsburrows has said above. I am gay and find that the radically inclusive position of my own parish and church have created a welcoming home for any and all Roman Catholics that would seek a home elsewhere. My parish is St. Albert the Great Old Catholic Church ( in San Pablo, CA. Just 30 minutes from San Francisco.

tgflux July 10, 2013 at 5:19 am

[Since we've reached the plugging part of the thread ;-)]

Joseph, let me add "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You!" (with your partner/husband, if you have him). While, unfortunately, I can't attest to the LGBT-affirmation of every Episcopal parish, more and more, all the time, ARE explicitly affirming (Certainly, if you're in NYC, you'll have no problem being welcomed as gay&partnered!)

lightweaverapril July 10, 2013 at 9:31 am

I'm glad to see there are still enlightened, understanding people of faith . Unfortunately, a former friend (and current friend of my husband) has been sucked into catholicism and has literally become brainwashed. She used to be a christian who thought for herself, and now she's completely changed. There are churches who spend a fortune to build giant crosses and huge buildings to look important, and try to justify it by doing meager charity work. Giving aid to disaster areas has become an opportunity for them to advertise their religion. They are corrupt to the core.

And all the while, other faiths are constantly denied the freedom to practice as we see right. My faith tells me I should be able to perform marriages for any consenting adults that come asking. Instead I am bound to a "religious standing" that I don't believe in. All because of discriminatory laws based on flimsy pseudo-arguments.

It makes me happy to see that someone from within the church recognizes that. So long as we fight for what is right and fair, change will, come. You give me hope cor humanity yet.

GayUltraCon July 11, 2013 at 3:30 am

Mr. Amodeo definitely outlines the majority of the reasons that I went from being a devout Roman Catholic to being an even more devout Episcopalian. We welcome all who believe in and worship God, and His Son.

The Episcopal Church truly does welcome you. We Episcopalians understand that reasonable people can disagree, even on theology, and we welcome debate and doubt. Bless you, Mr. Amodeo, for your statement. Be free, and find your faith, wherever it takes you.

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