One of the reasons people don’t visit the church nowadays is because of the rules made by the church. How can a gay, lesbian, divorced, or those in love with a priest come to church when they hear all the time that they are sinners?! Some people in the church make sure that the others feel bad about it because they (the church going ones) are observing the law! It’s the better than thou mentality which is still rife in the church.

Now who has the authority to say that one is in sin? The pope himself expressed the same way of thinking by saying ‘Who am I to judge gay people’? Yet some Catholics feel that they have been given a divine mandate in order to judge people and to say who is Catholic and who is not Catholic.

Now one of the most basic teachings of the church is, that the whole church is full of sinners and is in repentance, and journeying towards heaven!

Recently I have witnessed such double standards when hearing the story of a friend of mine. He is living with a woman and they are not married in church (Wow!). Now the truth is that his partner has been through a terrible marriage. She wasn’t granted the annulment (a Catholic declaration that her marriage was null and void), so in Catholic laws, she is still married to her husband. This new husband has taken care of her and of her children. He has been paying all bills and has been present through all times……yet he is a sinner (because he is living with a wife without being married in the church!!!). So he wasn’t granted his request to be a godfather/godmother (any woman/man who serves as a sponsor for a child at baptism or confirmation) to another friend’s son. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the young guy, my friend is a truly father especially in his case where his biological father ran away years ago. In fact he often goes to him for counsel, company and sharing other vital information.

Being present for the ceremony I could see other godfathers/godmothers…….I don’t want to judge people because that’s God work, but knowing people in town one cannot hide his feelings when he sees others who were truly sinful playing the part of the godfather/godmother. I’m not going to write about their sins but in town everybody knows such people and the trouble they caused in certain past events. The godfather/godmother has the job of being a model to the person receiving the sacrament and has to be ready to help the person grow in its faith. Publicly one could say that they should have never been given the permission of doing that job in church if their public image is tarnished. Yet they were there playing the role of the glorified Catholics walking up the aisle in the church! So who decides who can be a good Catholic or not?

Surprisingly one sees that in some prisons, murderers do assist to a Catholic Mass (rightly so). Yet for those living outside the sacrament of marriage there is no way out. So does a murder make one less guilty than one living outside the sacrament of marriage? The murderer might have left a family without a dad forever, yet he is free to receive the Holy Communion but the other non-married couple no, where the new dad has accepted the responsibility of taking care of the children!!

Another case is that of a priest who refuses to give absolution (the condition of being formally forgiven by a priest in the sacrament of penance), to somebody who is living with a non married man. Believe it or not this same priest has a secret lover!!! To add insult to injury, this priest condemns another priest who lives openly with a woman. The married priest takes care of the woman and her five sons. He is always present, 24/7.

Well we can mention so many cases where the traditional teachings of what is a good Catholic person is in crisis! Now some of the Catholics who feel abused by the same system, unfortunately pack up and leave. They never put their feet in a church any more. Well we are making a very special invitation this Christmas: please feel part of the church, celebrate Christmas. The catholic church is a church of sinners. Jesus as a doctor visits the sick people (not those who think too highly of themselves!!). We do need the Eucharist for our spiritual nourishment, so let’s celebrate together. It would be helpful if you find a church or a house gathering, where the Eucharist is celebrated by a married priest. If somebody challenges you because of your ‘sin’, well just tell them that if they are without a sin, then they should cast the first stone. We need a different kind of christians who can see beyond the traditional box or way of reasoning. In other words we can’t expect a change from the hierarchy (governing body) of the Catholic Church if many people leave the church.

A happy Christmas to all and hopefully I’ll hear that you have celebrated it in a Eucharistic celebration!