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Friday, 22 June 2012

Family Relationships and the Catholic Church

By: Liberate Zealot
Cross posted on F.A.R tumblr
Content Warning: Catholic Church, reference of sexual violence

So I've been meaning to write this post for a while, and this is my third attempt this week.  But every time I start something else comes up, I need to play with the kitten, or make home made soup, or some such thing.   Really it's just hard to articulate exactly what I want to say and express, so I've found other things to occupy my mind.

As is mentioned in my bio, my brother is a Future Priest, he's just finished his first year in a Catholic seminary.  He decided he wanted to do this two years ago, and while my parents and I aren't exactly happy about it, we haven't tried to talk him out of it and guilt trip him about it.  We respect his right to decide what is best and right for his own life.  And he knows I have issues with the Catholic Church, and took the time to talk to be about how he doesn't support their stance on Gay Marriage.  Which was nice, but rather missed the point.

Which since then he did an interview with his college and discussed how his family reacted, and mentioned me as being unsupportive.  He's also written several letters, 
with lots of religious platitude, about how he feels this change/separation in our relationship.  And the amount of not getting it is staggering and heart breaking. 

We see each other at family things a couple times a year (we live in different states so that would be the extent of it no matter what). And don't discuss the issues then, because it wouldn't be pretty and we don't want to ruin the holidays or whatever for everyone.

And I've never responded to his letters, and he hasn't forced the issue with phone calls or anything.  The reason is, I think it would ruin what relationship we still have (and I hate to be vulnerable).  But here's what I might say.

The Vatican is anti-woman and anti-queer, and it is actively so. It seeks to push it's own beliefs on everyone else in the world.  And to be a priest is to support that, the Vatican demands you support it. And this is oppressive to my very being.  I am a queer woman, and the Vatican is against me, against my identity.  Not only within it's churches, but in the public streets and the halls of government as well. It seeks to oppress me, and requires its priests, eventually my brother, to do the same.
And this is something I should be supportive of? And don't speak of reforming from the inside.  The nuns might happily and vocally defy the Vatican when it comes to its political involvement and stance on queer rights and choice, but I don't see any priests doing that.  And my brother never did in the past, is it suddenly to change once he gets his vestments, then he'll become an ally, when he never was before?
And so my brother has picked a hierarchical and Kyriarchal institution that actively seeks to oppress his own sister.  Of course our relationship has changed.  It wasn't me who changed it.  I might still love my brother.  But how can I trust and respect someone who will take a leadership position within a group that hates and seeks to suppress and outlaw my rights, my autonomy, my personhood? 

I cried when I saw that interview.  And I don't cry often, the only other times what year were about dealing with the sexual violence I endured.
In a way his decision to join the Catholic Priesthood and belief that I should support him was as much an attack on my person as the sexual violence.  Both erased my autonomy, my right to personal control and emotions.
I never expected that from my brother.  

Maybe some day I'll have the strength to say or write all of this to him. But right now the potential fallout isn't worth the clearing of my mind.  I'm not ready yet. 

1 comment:

  1. This is your first step towards telling him how you feel. And it is a big step.


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