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Faith/Spirituality Forum: converting

by Catherine Frakas 01 May 2001

converting QUESTION from Ed R. on December 17, 2002 Hello, I'm married to a fairly devout Catholic lady (20 years)and we have 2 kids being raised Catholic and attending a non parish Catholic school. I attend mass weekly with my family and assist in the religious training of our kids, we pray at mealtime and as a family and we supprt the church and school financially as well. I consider myself to be a pretty good person, but I'm not Catholic.
I'm considering converting because I think it's the right thing to do for my family, but I have some issues to deal with first and i was wondering if you could help?
1) Is there an online RICA program, our church only offers class after 10:30 mass and due to weekend work schedules and kids events, we rarely are able to attend that mass so I wouldn't be able to participate in RCIA.
2)I'd feel stupid being baptised in public since I have attended this church for 20 yrs and I think my name and face is at least somewhat known. *Is there some sort of private arrangement available?
3) are there option to the stock tank immersion baptism that our church now uses?
4) In light of the current sex scandels, involving priests molesting children and vunerable women and having affairs with men and women, I don't understand why the church doesn't both police itself better and allow married men and women to assume the top roles (just like most prodestant religions do. I think it would be better have a happliy married person as a church leader/ pastor than to have some one pretending to be celibant and then molesting kids or having sex secretly on the side.
5) It also seems to me that the church treats women as servents rather than as leaders relgating them to secondary roles in the church. My thinking here is that you should have the best qualifed leader in the church regardles of whether that person is amle or female. Why doesn't the church get with the times?
I've spoken to my wife about issues 4 &5 and she sees my point, but says that she has blind faith and trusts the church without questioning it. While I consider myself to be a Christian, My nature and personality doesn't allow me to blindly trust anyone or any organization.
Finally, the church seems to be overly concerned with what happens in a happily married couples bedroom (birth control, oral sex, mutual mastubation to name a few). It seems wrong to label these things as sin given the current over population and priest sex scandel. There is no way I could confess something I don't even consider a sin to a priest who could very well be molesting kids or women in our parish. (or having a fling with another man or women for that matter!) On the other hand, the church does a lot of good too. Please help me resolve these issues because I'd like to convert. Very Truly yours
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on December 24, 2002 Dear Ed:
Thank you for your question. I will be praying for you has you discern whether or not to convert.
With that said, you should NOT convert just for the family. You should convert ONLY because you are convinced of the Catholic Faith. Please do not convert if you are just doing lip-servce.
As to your questions:
1) There is no FORMAL online RCIA program. Our ministry will be putting together an online RCIA course, but that is for information, not the FORMAL RCIA that you take on the parish level.
If you are not able to attend the local RCIA then you can talk to your parish priest about private instruction.
2) If you have been validly baptized in some Protestant church then you may not need to be baptized in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church accepts the valid baptisms of Protestants.
But, if you do not have a valid baptism, or have never been baptized, then you must be baptized in the Catholic Church. Baptism in the Catholic Church is not always before the whole congregation. Talk to the pastor about it. It can be done at any time. But do not let ego and pride keep you from Christ.
3) Baptism by immersion is the perferred method, but most parishes use the pouring method. Either are valid. Talk to your parish priest about it. But do not worry, being dunk is not the end of the world. My father didn't like being in front of everyone either or being dunked, but he did so at the age of 62.
4) Your understanding about the sex scandels is flawed. To begin with, less than 2% of priest have committed these sins. Second, married men are the MOST likely to molest children, not celibates. Celibacy has NOTHING to do with it.
While most molestings occur by married men and family members, the Wisconsin Psychological Association found that when professionals molest that 66% of the cases the perpetrator are psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. 11% are clergy of all faiths.
Current studies show that less than 2% of Catholic priests are involved.
So we need to get some perspective here. There is no excuse for even one priest molesting, but the problem is NOT as big as the media (who are anti-Catholic) make it out to be.
Where is all the media concerning the 66%, the mental health profession that molests.
The Church does and has policed itself. In the past the Church accepted the advice of the Psychiatric community on what to do with men who molest. Psychiatry back then in the 60s and 70s were simple wrong about the nature of pedophilia. The Church is not the expert on psychiatric issues. The Church had to rely on the profession of pyschiatry who told the Church to move the priest to another location and things would be okay, or actually treated priests certified them as fit for duty.
We cannot blame the Church. The Church was merely acting on the adice of the people who were suppose to be experts on this -- the psychiatric profession.
As it turned out that the profession of psychiatry was mistaken about the nature of pedophiles. When this was learned, unfortunately there were some bishops that were not up to speed on the new scientific understanding and were slow to act.
Nevertheless, the Church has had very good policies in place for more than a decade to deal with this problem.
We see know that some bishops made bad decisions and did coverup some of these incidents. Bishops are men and men sin. The sin of a Catholic, even bishop, even a pope, does not impugn the whole Catholic Church. As for women in positions of authority. The FACT is that women hold more than 85% of ALL the non-sacramental positions in the Church. How are they being ignored?
Women cannot be priests because God says so. This does not make them second class citizens any more than YOU are not a second class citizen for not being able to be a priest.
A priest is a paterfamilas. He is a father to his parish. Women cannot be fathers anymore than men can be mothers. This is NOT about mere roles. This is about the very nature, the ontology, of God's economy.
It is an infallible teaching of the Church that Holy Orders is reserved to men only.
Women are not treated as servants. Women are honored greatly. AS mentioned more than 80% of non-sacramental positions in the Church are held by women. It is a woman that the Church honors above ALL people -- the Blessed Virgin Mary. St Paul elivated women to equal dignity with men and both men and women stand with equal dignity before God.
As for the Church getting with the times, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Truth does not change with the times. The Church must adhere to the solid rock of Truth, not the quick-sand of contemporary fads.
The Church does not know, or ever, ask for blind faith. Our faith is very much OPEN EYED. We are a Church of Reason. To deal with Reason, one must have eyes open.
Finally on the issue of sexual morality in the marriage bed, the Church only reflects the teaching of God.
Sir, the Church does not flip a coin to come up with its doctrines. There are REASONS for the teachings on sexuality.
You NEED to buy a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition.
It you cannot agree with EVERYTHING in that Catechism, including and especially on the issues of birth control, etc. then you are not qualified to join the Catholic Church and you shouldn't.
Explore the reasons for the faith and only AFTER accepting what the Church teaches should you convert.
BTW, the church does NOT teach oral sex is a sin as long as the man does not climax.
When we violate the sexual morality that God has instituted we spit in God's face and we do violence to the virtue of marriage.
LEARN the reasons behind the teachings before you pontificate your disapproval.
See Catholic Answers for many brochures about various aspect of the faith.
There are many other sites that are useful too.
We will be praying for you.
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