When people say politics- government, civics, and Congress immediately comes to mind. However, there are many other different kinds of politics that we operate under on a day-to-day basis. There’s educational system politics, work politics, and one of the most influential ones: church politics. Today, inspired by the election of Pope Francis of Assisi, we will talk about religion.
For thousands of years, people have followed religion. From following polytheistic to monotheistic deities, groups of humans have a variety of beliefs. These beliefs have influenced their traditions, culture, and pretty much every other aspect of their lives.
Being Mexican-American, Catholicism values were instilled in me since birth. In case you don’t know about the history of Mexico and Catholicism, basically over 500 years ago, Spaniards started arriving in Latin America (including Mexico) and forced many natives to convert. This has resulted in the strong Catholic culture that persists among Mexican-Americans today.
Back to my story. So, I grew up amidst a very religious family, which means that all of the required religious rites of passage were complete and processed wholeheartedly. I –like most youngins with my upbringing- didn’t question anything. If anything, the structure of religion was nice and predictable. As I got older, however, this started to change. My mom, a religious studies teacher and devout Catholic, didn’t necessarily discuss homosexuality, premarital sex, and the accuracy of the bible. But then something called high school and theatre happened. My involvement in this organization opened my understanding of the world and made me realize that I was quite the liberal-minded person.
In high school, at least 30% of the students professed to being of homosexual tendencies. At first, this was a shock, until I realized that I loved the refreshing truthfulness and authenticity of staying true to who you are. Don’t get me wrong- my entire family is incredibly loving and not at all prejudice, but when I used to ask my mother what gays and lesbians should do to stay in God’s good graces, she defaulted to the church’s stance on it. Basically, this is to suppress your urges as they are unnatural and to behave heterosexually. Yet, when I got to high school, I made very close friends with these people of same-sex orientation. I saw them laugh and cry and get angry, and I realized many things. One of these being that I could never deprive them of true happiness. In my eyes, it would be not human to do so.
Then, I got to college. Here was where the opposing views that I had were cemented. After taking a neuroscience class whose topics covered sexuality, I learned about the inherent biological difference between homosexual and heterosexual men. I could never again even contemplate that they could turn their gayness “off”. And even if they could, why the heck do they have to? Who am I to tell them and judge them in that way?
This all brings me to the new Pope. Many news reports have divulged that the pope used to advocate for same sex civil unions in Argentina (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/20/world/americas/pope-francis-old-colleagues-recall-pragmatic-streak.html?_r=0). Still, at the same time he has been opposed to gay adoption (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/20/pope-francis-civil-unions_n_2917222.html?ir=Religion).
How can we marry my generation’s mindset with the old doctrines of the Catholic Church. Should the church compromise their long-standing beliefs to accommodate to new generations? These questions become especially blaring when considering that one in three people who were reared as Catholics, no longer practice the religion (http://blog.adw.org/2011/05/why-catholics-leave-–-a-recent-study-and-some-comments-from-two-different-perspectives/). Apparently, there is a prolonged trend with this pattern.
Which brings me to the following: are you a good Catholic if you choose to not follow some of their beliefs? I, for one, consider myself one, but I wonder constantly if I am being a bad Catholic. I guess only time and the politics of the new Pope will decide if this is true.
Pope Francis making his first appearance.