My Catholicism died the day George Pell was convicted.
Will it be resurrected if his appeal is upheld this week?
I’d been dragging it to mass for Christmas and Easter for years, telling myself it was fine, that seeing familiar faces and singing a few favourite hymns would perk it up.
Clearly I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. Congregation numbers have been falling for years. The news was full of paedophile priests and systematic cover-ups. But we told ourselves, it was only a few bad apples… don’t tar all religious with the same brush… look around at the people you know, consider the good they do.
I wanted to see myself as loyal, not the sort who bolts as soon as things got tough. I told myself the church is like an extended family – and you wouldn’t bail out on your family because of a creepy uncle would you? What’s going to happen if all the decent people leave? Remember the happy baptisms, the beautiful church weddings. I liked to remember the laughs I had at school – the ridiculousness of glow-in-the-dark rosary beads, my first holy communion when the host stuck to the roof of my mouth, the argument I had with Sister Rita when she declared ‘Cher’ was not an acceptable confirmation name. How we couldn’t buy hot dogs at the tuckshop during Lent but we were offered a fish finger in a bun instead; ‘fishdogs,’ we called them. Hilarious.
On Saints’ Day we performed ‘liturgical dances’ with meaningful moves, and we made up sins to shock the priest at confession. We knew it was all silly, that none of it made sense, it was a joke we were all in on.
As an adult, I referred to myself as a ‘cherry picker’ Catholic. I embraced the parts I liked (the holidays) and rejected the bits I didn’t (Vatican teachings on birth control, homosexuality, women clergy).