Catholicism permeated every sphere of my existence growing up. I spent seven years in Sunday school and became a teacher when I finished, attended an all-girls Catholic school, and then ended up at a Jesuit university. Religion is innate part of me and I am extremely proud of my relationship with God. With that being said, as I try to reconcile my feminist mantras -- including my steadfast belief in a woman’s right to choose -- with Church teachings, I can’t help but feel conflicted.
Despite attending a Jesuit university, I am often afraid to reveal my Catholic roots to my peers because people often equate Catholicism with being anti-feminist and anti-LGBTQ. While this may be the case for some, there are many young Catholics who do not side with the Church on a number of their teachings, especially when it comes to women’s rights and queer rights.
I have come to the conclusion that I do not need to believe in the Church to call myself a Catholic. The Church is an institution run by older men, and since there is minority female leadership, these men are given all the power to make religious decisions. I struggled with, and still struggle with, this reconciliation. I stopped believing in the Church as an institution, and because of this, I often feel that this means I am not a “real Catholic,” but the fact of the matter is, no institution or individual has the right to decide what a person can and cannot do with their body. What I think many people misunderstand, including the Church, is that by being pro-choice I am not advocating for abortion, I am advocating for a woman to be allowed to make a decision about what to do with her body.
Unfortunately, the Church is stuck in the past. Its doctrines and teachings have made publicly embracing religion more difficult for younger generations. The last thing I want is people to think that what the Church believes, is what I believe. It is because of the Church’s outdated, sexist, and discriminatory doctrines that it lost my support.
Sadly, I do not think the Church will embrace a woman's right to choose. Nor do I think it will allow women to climb the patriarchal hierarchy of its institution. My experiences, however, have taught me that when enough water molecules fall, they form a flood, and even the mightiest dam will break. I expect that one day Catholics will disassociate from the Church, forcing the institution to face the reality, rights, and people that it has ignored for decades, head-on.