It is not easy being a Catholic in this day and age. It is a conscious, defiant decision to stay and practice this faith. A decision I explain over and over to family and friends alarmed by the scandals in the church. I am alarmed, yes, heartbroken that Catholic institutions have been a place of abuse, of complicity, of criminality. But nothing will change if I leave. If I stay, as a Catholic laywoman, I can practice what I believe and be an agent of change.
My faith is rooted in the teachings of the Gospels, in the sacraments, and in the call to be the body of Christ in the world — His eyes, His mouth, His hands, His feet. Catholic social teaching encourages us to see injustice, speak up and act, especially if that injustice is happening within our own institution.
So, I have decided to stay and reclaim the Catholic Church. I attend Mass, I am journeying with young families in my parish through volunteer work and prayer, and I keep myself well-informed on what is going on in the church.
Full disclosure: I am a former journalist. Therefore, I consume a lot of news, but I'm very selective with what I believe. It matters to me to know that my sources of information have no hidden agendas. That puts the National Catholic Reporter at the top of my trusted media list.
Funded 55 years ago with a mission to "report on the life of the church," NCR is funded mostly by lay women and men, and competitive grants. This model allows editorial independence. Editors and writers pursue stories for their newsworthiness, without the need to respond to the hierarchical church. In fact, back in the '80s NCR was already reporting stories on sexual abuse by priests.
Looking at the church through a layperson's lens, you can denounce what is wrong and support what is right. The secular media shines light in what is broken, and rightly so. But there are many good things happening in the Catholic Church, from Catholic hospitals looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, acknowledging that caring for creation is a requirement of our faith; to fearless religious women assisting refugees all around the world, our southern border included.
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I rely on NCR's reporting to get the best information on the issues that matter to me. I want to understand the culture of dysfunction in the church, so I can help tear it down and help build a new church. At the same time, I want to know how others are applying Catholic social teaching to seek solutions to the issues of our time.
I support NCR because it is an ally in my quest to reclaim my church.
This week is NCR's Spring Fund Drive. If NCR is an ally for you, I ask you to do what you can to support this important publication. It is through our support and readership that NCR can continue to produce the journalism we rely on and trust.
Make a one-time donation or become a member for $5 per month.
Alsy Acevedo is an NCR board member.