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Forced to Attend Church
Question from Anonymous on 11/28/2012:

Hello I am a teenager and recently became an atheist for various reasons I won't dive into here. My parents are still Catholic however, or at least my parents are. They still require me to attend church every Sunday, despite the fact that it does nothing for me and if anything, drives me further and further from finding the "truth" again. Each mass just seems to anger me in some way all over again, because I genuinely oppose so much of what is said and done. I'm not in any way an anti-theist, people can believe what they want and I'm fine with that. But I'm not even sure I can maintain a relatively respectful view of religion when my experiences with it continue to be downright infuriating. I should clarify that I don't actually have anger issues or anything like that, and it really isn't a major problem that is ruining my life. An hour a week is hardly a huge sacrifice. Still, if I'm old enough to be Confirmed, I think I should be old enough to NOT get Confirmed and thus have my own freedom of religion or lack thereof. Do you see any point in a requirement to attend church every week in this instance? I do it partly out of consideration for my parents at this point who have to deal with my increasingly secular family, but I think they'll have to grapple with the fact that, at least for now, I've made my decision.

Answer by Richard Geraghty on 12/26/2012:

Dear Anonymous,

Your express your self well. At any rate, your parents brought you into the world. You had no say about it. They cared for you without having any vote in the matter. Otherwise you would have perished. You do well to still go the Church out of deference to your parents. They have tried to hand on their faith to you. But you are rebelling. Well there will be time enough for you not to go to Church when you become an adult. But while you are living under their roof, you do well to go to Church. Remember that you are dealing with the mystery that God has obligated all his creatures to do his will. That where the difficulty comes in. All of us creatures have the tendency to do our own will. We do not take to be obligated even by God. But once we are ready to submit to God's authority, there remains the question of whether the Catholic Church is the true Church. If you accept the mystery that God has created you, then say your prayers to God to find out whether being a Catholic is all his will for you. The whole question is a matter of praying, not thinking. You are already under obligation to worship God. Can it be that you are under obligation to spend an hour at Mass every seven days? As you admitted, that is not a very heavy obligation. Yet it infuriates you. Why should it infuriate you so much? Ask God to help you figure that out. In the meantime keep going to Church out of respect for your parents. That is not a perfect motive. But it is at least a decent one.

Dr. Geraghty


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