Saint Joan, Pray for me. I want to be a Catholic but The Church won’t let me.
Welcome to Anti-Pope Joan, my blog dedicated to disaffected and dissident Catholicism. I am a 26yr old woman with a theology degree and a vocation to the Catholic Priesthood; a vocation continually thwarted by the Catholic Hierarchy due to my lack of a pee-pee. On this blog, I document my journey through and to this vocation and my continuing strained relationship with the Catholic Church.
I fell out with the Church in August 2011. The new translation of the Mass had just been introduced and I was at a World Youth Gathering; 1 million young Catholics descending on Madrid for a week, along with guest appearances from the Pope and some of his nearest and dearest Cardinals. I objected to the new translation as it had removed all the inclusive language introduced by the Second Vatican Council, and re-introduced a scrupulous focus on sin, guilt and human unworthiness. (This was particularly ironic as I had just completed an undergraduate dissertation on how useful Catholic Guilt really is to the faithful, and the conclusion was: not particularly, not the way we use it now). While in Madrid I saw a youth blindly zealous in their cheering for the Pope, and in their reaction to those with legitimate protests against us. I saw racism, Islamophobia, superiority complexes and a generally nasty attitude from, not by any means all, but enough young Catholics for it to put a bad taste in my mouth. I saw a lot of these malicious aspects of Catholicism, aspects I can only call distinctly unchristian, either tacitly or explicitly condoned by Cardinals and Bishops and the Pope in their lectures and catechisms. I felt the only thing I could do was dissent, and to dissent in one of the most extreme ways I could find. (This surprised no-one who knows me!)
The most extreme way I could find was voluntary excommunication. Excommunication is the punishment reserved for the most severe of unrepentant sinners; it’s for the heretic, the schismatic and the apostate. Due to the indelible mark placed upon me by baptism (thanks mum and dad!) I will never be completely outside and shut off from Christ’s salvation, and the Church teaches the excommunicated can still achieve salvation through Scripture and prayer alone, but that it is a difficult path and by no means guaranteed. This path is, to me, a spiritual hunger-strike.
In recent months I have been coming to terms with my own vocation to the Church. I used to virulently deny the possibility of womens ordination and I believe that was precisely because I knew that if I admitted there were no good theological reasons for forbidding womens ordination, then I would have to face the hidden vocation within me. And facing that vocation would hurt. A lot. And it does hurt. A lot. Without access to the priesthood all I am left with is the fight for access to the priesthood and that is exactly what I fight for here. I am a keyboard Christian soldier, typing as to war.
I try and categorise my posts. Here are the categories:
Catholic Privilege: These posts try and look at all the aspects within the Church that do not affect me directly. I recognise that, whilst as a woman I am in many ways treated as a 2nd class citizen by the Hierarchy, I still have a lot of privilege within the Church. This means I need to try and prioritise the voices of those with less privilege than my own and try and shine a light on these issues in my own, privilege-limited, way. These posts are my attempt at doing that.
My Journey: These posts look specifically at my experience as an excommunicated, dissident, wanna-be woman priest. These are my personal reflections on the pain the Hierarchy, and my vocation, and my excommunication cause me. They are angry and hurt. They are possibly not feel-good reading…
Rent in the Raiment: I am unusually inspired by St Augustine. I think most of what he said was worthless, but when he said something worthwhile, he got it spot on. Augustine didn’t have time for the schismatic. He saw the Church as the raiment of Christ and felt that to divide the Church was to tear, or rent, Christ’s raiment. We currently have one of the most divisive and schismatic Hierarchies we have ever had; a Hierarchy that fosters division not only between the Catholic Church and other faiths, but between Catholics within the Church. This is where I get all angry about that.
General Musings: Short bits when I have an odd thought I want to share.
Fig-Leaf Christianity: I love Kierkegaard. I love Kierkegaard to the point that I got trainers especially made with his face on so he can look up my skirt. That’s an over-share, but the point remains, I LOVE Kierkegaard. Fig-Leaf Christianity was a term he used for Christians who use their Christianity to position themselves as superior to others. Fig-Leaf Christians are Christians who obscure the actual, difficult teachings of Christ, as they have already convinced themselves they are good Christians and nothing more can be asked of them. They are Christians who want to retain all their Christian Privilege without actually being a Christian in anything other than name. This is where I get angry at them.
Homilies from the Other Side of the Pulpit: My homework. My Priest has suggested that I start writing homilies in order to take me away from all the anger I feel towards the hierarchy and remind me of all the love I feel for God and Christ. That isn’t to say there will be no anger, this is an angry blog, but here you will find the positive that is probably missing from most of my other posts…
I hope you enjoy reading this blog. Unless you are the Pope, in which case I hope it pisses you off like no-bodies business! I welcome comments, although they are moderated as I would like to maintain the comments section as a safe space. Outright bigotry and offensive, identity-based hatred will be deleted. Otherwise, I would love to hear from you.