'I was raised Catholic, but don't know where I stand now'

"For me, though recent events within the Catholic church have seriously damaged my belief in what it is all about."

As you have gone through life, have your beliefs changed?

I was brought up in a strict Catholic household. We were taught that as members of the one true faith everyone who wasn’t like us would burn for eternity in the fires of hell. Life was all so simple back then.

We did all the things the church demanded, went to Mass on Sunday, attended catholic schools, I was an altar boy as well, the last of the Latin speaking ones.

As I grew up my understanding of belief began to change. I did seriously question my Catholic upbringing.

A few things got me questioning my faith. The mysterious death of Pope John Paul and a video I saw about the role of women in the church. If we were such a one true church, why were there so many anomalies within it?

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At one point in my teenage years I contemplated joining the priesthood, thankfully around the same time, I discovered girls.

As a teenager, I had a girlfriend who belonged to the Baptist Church and each Sunday night they held a gathering to which I went mainly to be with my girlfriend but also to find out what it was all about.

I am well aware that many people find solace in religion, that it gives their lives meaning, shape and direction.

I have good friends who are staunch in their belief, they practice and follow the bible, and I admire their commitment to their faith.

For me, though recent events within the Catholic church have seriously damaged my belief in what it is all about. To me, the Church says one thing but acts differently. I have written about the crisis in religious life through the revelations of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse with religious institutions. No one has come out clean. As a friend said to me after watching the film Spotlight, “the Catholic church should dismantle itself and start all over again”. There is a lot to be said for that.

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Our belief structures have been challenged in recent times, and so I wonder where I stand nowadays. The teachings of Christ still have a lot to offer, but then again so does Buddhism.

I think as we age we develop our own spirituality as our way to understand and cope with what is happening around us. This, of course, is greatly influenced by where we have come from and the life experiences we have had.

How have your beliefs changed as you’ve aged?