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Why I quit Catholicism and became an Episcopalian

Why I quit Catholicism and became an Episcopalian

Emma Keller writes in The Guardian about changing churches:

…I believed that the number of good people in the church outweighed the bad. I believed in the triumph of good over evil. I believed that the people in the pews around me felt as I did and we had a duty to persevere.


I would give money to the collection wondering where exactly it would end up. Would it pay off an abuser? Get laundered in Rome? Subsidize a hypocritical lavish lifestyle? For a while, I stopped giving, then out of habit started again. For a while, I stopped going to church, too, but I’d always go back.

At the age of eight, my younger daughter began to serve mass, and I was struck that, hierarchically, this was as high as she could go as a Catholic. That felt wrong. But by now, it all felt wrong. I was ashamed of my church. I had not lost my faith in God, but I had completely lost my faith in Roman Catholic leaders. The scandals grew and multiplied, going higher and higher up. Where would it end?

And then, the pope quit. The pope! He left. He walked out on it all. I watched him fly away from Rome and I thought, “That’s it.” In the few moments of his flight, I left too. I decided I could no longer be a part of this church. It was over.

I realized I didn’t want this decision to be about leaving, but joining. I knew immediately I wanted to convert and become an Episcopalian. Why? If I were to trace this decision back, it would be to a summer I spent in Maine 11 years ago. Our closest church was Episcopalian, so I went there on Sundays. The vicar was a woman. Her sermons were eloquent, moving, compassionate and connected to the modern world. She spoke like my nuns.

So, as the world was introduced to Pope Francis I on Wednesday, I watched from a distance, both literally and emotionally. His problems are not mine. I saw the excitement in St Peter’s Square and found it moving.

I felt excited, too, but for a different reason. This Sunday, I’m going to an Episcopal church where I’ve already talked to the vicar.


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John Switzer

It’s good to see some discussion of the phenomenon of “swimming the Thames.” As a Roman Catholic, I regularly see articles about people coming to the Roman Church from the Episcopal Church. I’m glad that there is recognition that it happens the other way around, too!

Adam Spencer

I hope you’re not discouraged from hanging around the Cafe and posting again, Terry. It’s nice to have our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters here. It isn’t popular to be a fan of the Catholic Church but I am one. And, seriously friends (JC, mostly, but others not in this thread too) does our open-mindedness and depth of compassion as a Church ALWAYS have to wither and die whenever it encounters a different (read: conservative) or difficult point of view? Are we being prophetic or merely uncharitable?

Kelli Joyce

It is quite possible to be constructively critical of the Roman Catholic Church while also objecting to overly-simplistic, inaccurate, and problematic statements about the same. It is similarly possible to criticize the public statements an individual makes about their past religious traditions without it needing to be taken as an attack on that person’s freedom to live out their spiritual journey.

The creation of false dichotomies and a lack of appreciation for nuance do not, to me, seem edifying.


What I find particularly problematic about the original article, and many of the comments about it, is the assumption that clerical sexual abuse is a particularly Roman Catholic problem. It’s not. Rome’s problems are simply larger in terms of absolute numbers (but not in terms of percentages of abusers across religious lines), and news about them happened to break first, which has deflected attention from other Christian groups’ scandals.

Let’s not forget that our own House of Bishops found Charles Bennison not guilty of covering up the sexual abuse of a minor by a church employee on a technicality. And our own Presiding Bishop, when she was Bishop of Nevada, received a former Roman Catholic priest into the Episcopal priesthood even though there was reasonable suspicion that he had previously abused and would abuse again. Pretending like we’re innocent of this sin is disingenuous; we, like our Catholic brothers and sisters, have largely skipped over the step of repenting for the sins our hierarchy has aided and abetted in our haste to get to the point where we can pat ourselves on the back for our efforts to make sure that such abuse never happens again. (Granted, this latter outcome is laudable and right. But it needs to be accompanied by admission of guilt, repentance, and punishing those who did wrong.)

For all the umbrage at those who criticized the assumed intentions of the author of the Guardian article, I’m noticing a lot of criticism about the assumed intentions of her critics. There are Roman Catholics and Anglicans who desire real ecumenical dialogue between our two churches. I encountered many of them in my seminary formation at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, and people across denominational lines were critical of the Ordinariate. (As a note, I now serve in the Diocese of Maryland, where more parishes have chosen to join the Ordinariate than any other, and it is still spoken well of by the Episcopal bishop, so perhaps blanket condemnation of it is being a bit hasty.) Real ecumenical engagement occurs when we set aside our preconceptions and assumptions about the other and are willing to be open to the fact that we have much to learn from them.

Joshua Rodriguez


Terry, see re “we do Rome no favors”.

You come here as a Roman Catholic, claiming to have “ecumenical good-will”? Come on now. [Your “interest and love of Anglicanism”: what, the Ordinariate? O_o]

Hard Truth: the RCC has been nothing but anti-ecumenical for *at least* 15 years. You want better relations w/ Episcopalians? Per just about always ***clean up your own house***. Revoke the Ordinariate (which kiboshed every Anglican/RCC ecumenical effort since V2), dump Dominus Iesus [], for starters. [Speaking personally, TALK BACK to your hierarchy, which keeps trying to get RC doctrine re pregnancy and marriage into force of civil law]

Then get back to me! For over 25 years now, I’ve been an advocate for REAL ecumenism, based upon dialogue over the REAL issues. Not happy talk that papers over difference so those in collars can enjoy sherry together (yeah, I saw such pseudo-ecumenical salons back in the day. How I knew the ecumenical mvt between Episcopalians and Romans wasn’t really going to go anywhere).

A blessed Holy Week to you and yours, Terry. May our churches see an ecumenical resurrection grounded in Truth (Way, and Life!).

JC Fisher

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