Growing up Catholic was easy in my home town, north east of Philadelphia out away from the city, in a suburban village. This is where there where several small Protestant church of various denominations, but two big Catholic churches (in just my little borough! Let’s not even start counting the surrounding township.). The hardest part of being Catholic in my town was did you attend the Italian church (the newer more modern building) or did you go to the much older Irish church. Being that my mother was the religious person in the marriage, we went to her girlhood church, the Irish one.
My mother tells stories of the Italian and Irish boys coming home from Mass on Sunday and having fist fights as they crossed back into their own neighborhoods (the Irish church being way out until they built new housing for the new immigrants and the Newer Italian church being build in the old section of town where condemned builds had been razed). I don’t have those memories, but I do remember the verbal battles between the “Irish” and the “Italians” in school. Most of the time I just stood aside, and used my German last name to bow out of the stupid arguments.
Now comes a new Pope, Francis. I really started to enjoy be Catholic with Pope John Paul II. His time as Pope was a great time to be alive and to be American. He helped us defeat the Soviet Union, to keep communist China at bay, to bring former Eastern Bloc nations back into the West, and he refined and defined morals for what it meant to be Catholic. I remember the Second Vatican Council and how we were all called to become closer with our other christian brothers as well as the Jews and Muslims (in view of what Islam has brought the world since his death, I can no longer wish well on anyone of that death cult!). But what I really remember is that he called on us to just be Catholic.
With Pope Francis, we have a radical. He has attacked capitalism, embraced the secular faith of global warmer, to put down the advances of western nations and to attack the firearms industry. Basically, aside from gay marriage and abortion, he has taken a hard, hard left turn and showing what a modern day socialist looks like! What is worse is all of the clergy going along with him.
I don’t think I can, in good faith, remain an active Catholic. Which means giving up my degrees in the Knights of Columbus, not going to Mass and certainly not putting monies into the machine. Unless and until American Catholics take a stand and break away from the European-influenced Vatican or this Pope passes and we elect a normal Pope, I don’t see my self being Catholic.