When the Church is Toxic

Patheos blog

February 27, 2019

By Mary Pezzulo

I woke up to find out that I had been screenshotted, again.

Specifically, this time, a sometime deacon now on a leave of absence in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, who is famous among my friends for facebook stalking through sock puppets and harassing us, had taken a screenshot of a public comment I’m not ashamed of. I said that neither a tax return nor a legal marriage certificate are a sacrament, and that letting people who are legally married, even if the marriage isn’t a marriage by sacramental standards, file jointly on their taxes didn’t seem to violate any Church teaching. The deacon, who is obsessed with gay people, was mocking me and trying to paint me as a heretic, again. One of his lickspittle lackeys had impersonated a woman and friended me; the lackey published a screenshot of a friends-only conversation where I expressed dismay that John Paul the Second was ever canonized. And I admit to that wholeheartedly. I think it was imprudent to waive the five-year waiting period. I think that it was scandalous how he participated in covering up sexual abuse and I do not admire him. I don’t really care if saying something that obvious gets me into trouble. It’s the truth. I assume I’ll get a smear piece written in a shameful tabloid about me before long. The deacon doesn’t write for respectable publications.

This happens rather often when you write publicly on the internet. It’s not as bad as the time a Catholic from Chicago screenshotted my profile picture to make rape jokes about me, and then threatened to sue because he didn’t intend to rape me but to mock me for being un-rapeable and he didn’t think I’d made that clear enough.

I swore to myself, and lamented once again how toxic and abusive Catholicism can be.

Yes, I just said that. I am a baptized and confirmed practicing Catholic. I believe and profess all the Catholic Church teaches, and I try to follow her teaching as best I can, and I try to repent wherever I fail. And I’m telling you, Catholicism can be extremely toxic and abusive.

It shouldn’t be controversial to say that out loud. People act as though I’m a secret agent bent on destroying the Church, when I call attention to abuse in the Church, as if being Catholic meant pretending that Catholicism is all fun and beauty. But I’m only telling the truth: the Church, not her teaching or how she’ll look in eternity but the Church as an institution of fallen people trying to work together, is toxic.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.