Hypocrisy in Religion: Why I Believe Catholicism Needs Fixing

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Hypocrisy is defined as “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform”. (Oxford Dictionary). In the case of Catholicism, this means stating to yourself and others what you believe, but not reflecting those values in your actions. Essentially, you are selective about what you choose to demonstrate in life regardless of what you say you believe. This way of living allows you to have peace of mind because you ‘believe’ in those values; you think that others will think you’re a good person because of what you say you value. You think that, when it comes time, God will know you’re good, that because you told yourself and others about your moral pretenses it doesn’t matter about your actions in life. This way of thinking is what I believe makes almost every single Catholic person a hypocrite.

Hypocrisy in the Catholic Church can be dated as far back as when Jesus was alive, or rather, when he died. Roman Catholicism is focused on Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit, which is entirely ironic because Romans were the ones who killed him! Since the beginning of Catholicism, Catholics have not been doing what they’re supposed to, so hypocrisy has reigned and ruled this religion without break. Catholic education is where everything starts. Before kindergarten, children have no concept of religion. Yes, they’ve been baptised, gone to church, perhaps been talked to about God with their family, but they have no meaning related to the idea of being Catholic. They do not know yet what it means to be religious, so going to Catholic School and the schools church is what truly shapes this idea for the child. A school prayer is something that is used to guide the students with the principles and values mentioned, and is a great way for them to connect learning and God. The following prayer belongs to St. Joachim Catholic Elementary School, and has been said by hundreds of students, including myself. Every day this prayer is said on the school announcements as a reminder to students what they are learning for and what they believe. “Dear God, With Our Lord, Jesus Christ as our guide help us to lead exemplary lives that reflect our Catholic values and a commitment of service to others. Help us to form a positive environment that is created by our attempts to always strive to do our best. Help us to foster a diverse learning community through respect for fellow students and adults in our school. Amen.” (“school prayer”) Every day for ten years, I said this prayer, and only once did I question what I was saying and learning, but that single time opened my eyes to the hypocrisy I have been talking about. At the time, I valued my school, my peers, my teachers, my church, and everything I was being taught, until a few sentences from a student teacher made me question everything. There had been times when I wondered things such as: “Is God real?” or “How do they know this is true?”, but never had I questioned the rightness of the Roman Catholic Church. I was never an over the top, Sunday school, God-obsessed child (and there is nothing wrong with anyone who is), but I did believe, and I love the values that Catholicism taught me.

All of that changed when, despite it stating directly in our school prayer “to lead exemplary lives that reflect our Catholic values”, I was still taught in my eighth-grade classroom that anyone who was not heterosexual was not right in God’s eye. The values that we were taught, the values that are implied in that prayer, including respect, understanding, inclusion and a surplus of other beliefs, would tell anyone who TRULY valued them that this way of thinking was wrong. This experience lead me on a path of questions about Catholic education, specifically, Why would they teach us things that directly oppose their last decade of lessons? I began to think a lot about how beneficial Catholic education was; our grades were higher than public schools, but the actual values and traits that they wanted us to exhibit were rarely shown by the student body, mostly only a handful of dedicated students. I started to see an underlying theme of hypocrisy in everything to do with Catholic education. For example, trust was thought to be essential between staff and students, yet in all levels of school and especially in high school (when were supposed to be becoming adults), we were treated as irresponsible untrustworthy children. They expected us to respect, trust, and love them, but did not treat us with any of that. I spent one semester at Bishop Tonnos, and never in my life have I experienced ruder, entitled and suffocating people. To me, they exhibited the exact opposite of how they expected us to be; they were the epitome of hypocrisy.

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That is all that Catholic education is now, a self-centered and hypocritical way of teaching students the wrong things, and things that they themselves most likely don’t do. For example, Catholic sex-ed is about abstinence. They never did the seemingly classic condom-on-a-banana example, and I didn’t know what a female condom or circumcision was until grade nine when I came to Ancaster High. In Catholic elementary school, they just say that abstinence is the best way to respect yourself and God, so they limit the things they tell you. How many people do you think follow the ‘no sex before marriage’ rule? I doubt that the person teaching me that followed it.

Diocesan Priests cannot even follow the promises they’ve made to God. More than 1000 priests in the U.S sexually abused children, with a history of it going back more than seven decades (“Names More than 1000”). The priests themselves are hypocrites, not only that but criminals who raped children and then covered it up. Pope Francis described the situation as one that “seriously undercut” (CNN Wire) the Church’s credibility. He also suggested ways to help fix the damage in the U.S by stating that they need a “new approach to management, but also a change in our mindset, our way of praying, our handling of power and money, our exercise of authority and our way of relating to one another and the world.” (CNN Wire). Instead of expecting “mindset” and “management” to change the rapist priests, there should be a change in values and an understanding that individuals need different things.

Why does society allow themselves to be restricted so much so by religion? People continue to make promises to a set of values that they know they cannot follow, and for what? To please God? I’m positive he’s not pleased with anyone who does this. If God is real, then I’m sure that he would want people to follow the rules he set completely or not follow them at all. As Pope Francis also said, it is better to be an atheist than to be a hypocritical Catholic. Progressive Catholics and Hypocrisy

Jumping forward to the times of today, hypocrisy in the Catholic Church can clearly be seen with the “Progressive” Catholics. In Catholicism, most people seem to stick to the conventions that they want; the ones that bring them tranquility, while simultaneously deciding not to trust a portion of the Catholic Church's progressively hostile principles. This picking and choosing, along with their personal justifications for it, I’m sure improves how they feel about asserting their Catholicism. It certainly made me feel less uneasy about believing in different things than my more Catholic family and friends. I called it tolerance or understanding; you have the freedom to believe and say what you want. In any case, as time continues to pass it seems more apparent to me that it is not a tolerance for others values and beliefs, but a tolerance for an establishment that does a lot of damage to the world through hypocrisy. In an article by journalist Donal O’Keefe, he wrote “I feel that whether you obey its every rule — as the church demands — or pick and choose the bits you like — as most Irish Catholics do — you remain a member of an organisation which has caused generations of untold harm.” (Nelson). Essentially, either way, whether you pick and choose or are a dedicated follower, you support an institution that does not do a lot of good. For example, how many LGBTQ people do you think have died because of hate from the church on their differences? At least one, and one should be enough for people to begin to question why they are funding an organization that promotes such a lack of acceptance and understanding. When so-called Progressive Catholics give donations on Sundays, they financially aid an institution that utilizes just a small amount of its extensive riches to help the poor, while creating over the top demonstrations of themselves and restricting the circulation of contraception that moderates the spread of HIV. When Progressive Catholics keep on calling themselves Catholic, they voluntarily associate with an institution that concealed across the board sexual abuse of children, and continually deny women the chance to become ministers and priests. When Progressive Catholics observe Catholic wedding services, they celebrate with an institution that denies that same thing to same-sex couples and observes divorced (and in addition wedding after a separation) as sin. Not one thing that the Progressive Catholics stand for is progressive at all. They are not moving forward; they are not bettering anything or anyone. If a political group were to take financial or public support and promote opinions against same-sex marriage, contraceptives or divorce, they would be denounced instantly by the world. But, when it comes to faith, its somehow different; because these views are held by an institution in the name of God, faith and loyalty, we are apparently not opposed to it. We ignore it? No. This is not way to achieve peace or go to heaven; this is not the way to gain equality between people or build a bridge between science and religion. The attitude of the progressive Catholics accomplishes nothing, and their actions certainly do not reflect the values of a loving, empathetic human being, but instead reflect an affectatious and pretentious individual.

Failing the Final Redemption for Catholicism In October, I returned to my elementary school to ask if they would like to participate in a fundraiser for The Toronto Distress Centre. We were always told to be generous, to donate to those who have less, to be kind etc.; all things that would make it a great school to fundraise with. I told the principle I graduated from there, and would love their support. She seemed happy to help, but then she asked how I was enjoying BT. I told her I switched schools in grade nine, and she then told me that I would have better luck in my school board, and that they were already doing the exact fundraiser I asked her to participate in.This was one of the most infuriating moments for me. After dealing with all of the uncertainty yin the faith I had, the school that had taught me to live with an open heart was once again ruining my hopes with their bullshit Catholic pride.

Pride, the first deadly sin, is the final thing that Catholic education now depends on. Your entire time in Catholic school you are given the impression that Catholicism is the religion that matters; the school system puts it in your head that you are special because you are Catholic, and because of this, so many people place themselves on such a high pedestal for their religion. I know that I felt special, different, when talking to my friends from public school. But this feeling shouldn’t be present, taught or encouraged at all. Catholic education, ‘progressives’ and hypocrisy is a problem that should not be carried on. This religion needs to be fixed. If the Pope of the Roman Catholic church is calling out members of his religion, then there is a legitimate problem in the world, not just in Ancaster, and perhaps not just in the Catholic religion.

Works Cited

  1. Catholic Church Names More than 1,000 US Priests Accused of Child Sex Abuse. ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 3 Jan. 2019, www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-04/us-catholic-church-names-over-1000-priests-in-sex-abuse-cases/10683870.
  2. Nelson, Lauren. The Hypocrisy of ‘Progressive’ Catholics. Friendly Atheist, Patheos Friendly Atheist. 10 Oct. 2015, friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2015/10/10/the-hypocrisy-of-progressive-catholics-2/.
  3. School Prayer. St. Joachim Catholic Elementary School, stjo.hwcdsb.ca/ourfaith/schoolprayer/.
  4. Wire, CNN. Pope Francis Says Catholic Church's Credibility Has Been 'Seriously Undercut'. FOX59, FOX59, 3 Jan. 2019, fox59.com/2019/01/03/pope-francis-says-catholic-churchs-credibility-has-been-seriously-undercut/.
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