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Q & A with Father Anthony



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Is there room for my dissagrements with Catholic teachings within a vocation as a sister?

Anna asks:

Dear Fr Anthony,

I have been thinking about how to dedicate my life in the way God calls me for several years. Service, community, chastity, and poverty to focus my commitment on Christ seem the way calling me. However, I have many reservations about Catholic teaching, especially on issues of support for homosexuals, their civil unions/marriage and their adopted children, and on womens rights in the church. I feel my relationship with God is more important than positions on these issues. Is there room for my disagreements with these Catholic teachings within a vocation as a sister? I realize that most important would be to discuss this with a certain community, but before I continue considering, I would like to know if a vocation in the Catholic Church is a possibility with my views.

Thank you very very much!

Dear Anna,

Sadly, much if not all of what we know and form our opinions on in the areas you mention comes not from the Church's teaching itself but from the media's interpretation and presentation of this teaching—in the headline, the sound-bite and the news clip. These same interpretations are those given by some dissenting groups within the Church that pose and want to be recognized as alternative but valid ways of living the Catholic faith.

If you are called to the religious vocation you should keep in mind that Christ by the same token is calling you to serve him and spread his teachings by example and action. One of the gifts he gave his Church is the assurance that she would always remain faithful to him in teaching faith and morals. So really you owe it to yourself and to your personal sense of honesty to sort out your questions. If Christ has given us the Church we can't really say we have a complete relationship with him if we reject what the same Christ teaches us through his Church.

I think you have some homework to do, but you need to do it in the right places: In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the actual documents that come from the teaching authority of the Church (the Pope himself, the different bodies and offices he uses, the Bishops who teach in union with him). This may be a challenge, because when we have some definitely formed and articulated opinions on these questions you may and others, we often have to overcome a certain degree of aversion to actually going to the documents themselves to see what they really say, and especially why they say it. It is also a challenge, because what we find in these documents are not the slogans or sound bites we are all used to and which take no effort to parrot, but instead reasoned reflection, slightly tougher intellectual fare than we encounter elsewhere.

But you will find it extremely enlightening and ultimately satisfying if you persevere. You will find there no narrowness but instead frankness and honesty, much common sense, much understanding of the human condition, much love, and yes, a great challenge.

God bless. I'll be praying for you.

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