Thursday, June 10, 2010

Looking for a New Church Community (or not)

It has been a month and half since I wrote to the pastor of my church advising him that due to the unrepentant homophobia of the archdiocesan newspaper, a medium which represents the views of the archdiocese, I could no longer be an active member of the parish. I have never received a reply to that e-mail.

Since that time I have not attended any other church, but I have been feeling more and more that I need to find a new church community.

Prior to my departure from my own Catholic parish, I attended Mass a few times at the Old Catholic church located in my neighbourhood, and although I did not feel too comfortable with the liturgy there, I know I should go back and give it a chance. The Old Catholic Church is absolutely inclusive, and I was certainly warmly received by the clergy in the little church near my house.

I have also been looking at the Anglican Church—the Anglican Church of Canada, not the ANIC as described in an earlier post. There is St. James, which is located in the heart of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, a district notorious for its drug dealers and users, prostitutes and derelicts, and for its occasional violence. From what little can be seen on its web site, the church itself appears to be gorgeous. One of the big draws for me is that St. James is both High Anglican and inclusive. High Anglican means that liturgically it is close to Roman Catholicism. Inclusive means that until recently the assistant priest at St. James was an openly gay young man from Hong Kong. The priest was recently made rector of a parish in a seaside community near Vancouver, where he and his partner were warmly welcomed by the parishioners. St. James is twenty-minute bus ride from my home.

There are other Anglican churches I could attend, including Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver, which, like St. James, has Mass every day, and gay-friendly St. Paul’s in Vancouver’s West End. Attending Mass or Holy Communion at these churches would entail a longer bus trip.

So why haven’t I got myself dressed up and onto the bus and made my way to St. James? For sure, it is partly just laziness. The Catholic church I formerly attended was a ten-minute walk from home or a two-minute drive with easy parking around the church. The larger reason is more complicated. I miss my church—my Catholic church. Despite my beefs with the hierarchy and my cafeteria-style faith, the peace and comfort that I felt in church when I returned four years ago never left me. I could not recapture those feelings in the Old Catholic Church and I guess that I am afraid they won’t be there for me in the Anglican Church either.

There are many in the Catholic blogosphere who are unhappy with the Roman Catholic Church because of the outrageous and un-Christ-like actions of members of the ecclesial hierarchy and the intransigent stance of the Church on issues that affect so many of its members. Yet these thoughtful people seem to be unable to leave the Church and join another denomination, regardless of how inclusive the alternative community might be.

I think again of the character of Father David Telemond in The Shoes of the Fisherman, whose words of frustration about the Church I have quoted before: “I hate her! And still I can’t leave her. I love her, and still I cannot live in her in peace.”

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  1. amen.

    Is there a Dignity chapter that meets regularly up there?

  2. There is a Dignity chapter here but I had an exchange with them a few years back that left a bad taste in my mouth.

  3. You can try that church. It seems that you are a Catholic at heart. I think the Catholic Church needs people like you to keep us honest. You need to remember that the people are the Church. It seems that there was a cultural barrier in your parish because you had foreign priests. Perhaps you could at least check with Dignity to find a better Catholic parish.

  4. Mareczku:

    Thanks for your comment and suggestions. I will continue to blog about the RC Church; I am just not sure that I can be an active member of the Church right now.