I grew up Roman Catholic. I went to Catholic school through the fifth grade. I still have my first Holy Communion group photo.
I was also an altar boy. My first introduction to Latin was in learning the responses as the priest was going through the Mass. “Mea Culpa. Mea Culpa. Mea maxima mea culpa” rolls off the tongue. This was before the Mass went all-English.
The one thing I liked about attending Catholic school is that I didn’t have to attend Catholic instruction on Saturdays. Only Catholic kids who went to public school had to do that. When I started going to public school in the sixth grade, I had to go to Saturday instruction. I had to walk the two miles.
Now I learn it was all in vain.
The new Pope has spoken. No more church, holy days of obligation, confession, penance, transubstantiation, and other Catholic doctrines and rituals for Catholics or anybody. As long as you follow your conscience – even if you’re an atheist – you can go to heaven:
“In comments likely to enhance his progressive reputation, Pope Francis has written a long, open letter to the founder of La Repubblica newspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, stating that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences. Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Mr Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, Francis wrote: ‘You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience. Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.’
Robert Mickens, the Vatican correspondent for the Catholic journal The Tablet, said the pontiff’s comments were further evidence of his attempts to shake off the Catholic Church’s fusty image, reinforced by his extremely conservative predecessor Benedict XVI. ‘Francis is a still a conservative,’ said Mr Mickens. ‘But what this is all about is him seeking to have a more meaningful dialogue with the world.’”
Roman Catholicism has become a Jiminy Cricket religion: “Let your conscience be your guide.”
There’s going to be a huge drop in the indulgence market. Who’s going to want to pay for indulgences to get out of purgatory when you can now go straight to heaven through a clean conscience?
The nuns kept us quiet on our way to lunch by telling us that if we said “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” it would reduce our time in purgatory. Now I know it really was just to keep us quiet.