Thursday, July 02, 2009
"Unable to suppress love, the Church wanted at least to disinfect it, and it created marriage."
Been thinking about my childhood in Trinidad and been wondering where my distrust and dislike of the church comes from.
They, my dad’s family were quite a crew; dad had 3 sisters living, Auntie Evelyn, Auntie Verna, and Auntie Josephine my favourite Aunt and my dad’s favourite sister and 6 brothers of which I only met two Edgar and Hugh.
The other brothers had long left Trinidad and had lost touch with the family; three were believed to be in America and 1 in South America.
Auntie Evelyn had 3 kids and Auntie Verna also 3 and Auntie Jo had 8 living kids, she had 4 girls Maureen, Doreen, Aileen and Coleen and 4 boys Angus, Mark, Desmond and Vincent.
After early mass we would quite often drive over to St. Fernando where Auntie Jo and Uncle Keith lived for Sunday lunch and lime with the whole family.
Church was as usual abit strange as the priest seemed to always greet my father in a slightly odd manner never looking at him directly.
He was always by the door greeting everyone as they walked in and I observed that it was only my father that he greeted without looking him in the face.
The same priest was very cold to me after I asked him questions in catechism classes, first he invited all us kids to ask anything we liked and when I did he got very frosty.
Very strange, as a kid I did not understand that at all, why I couldn’t ask questions when first it was encouraged.
After all I was only asking why things were not fairly distributed and why we as good Catholics did not seem moved by the poverty and injustices around us.
Surely it was written in the teachings of the church that you helped each other so why was that not happening why were so many others suffering.
I really believed what I had read about caring and sharing, surely as good Catholics we should be doing something, with hindsight realise now this was all too much for the poor priest.
So he resorted to ignoring me or he would ridicule everything I said and would treat me rather unkindly.
On top of this my poor dad seemed to be being treated strangely and when I asked him he would not talk about it.
One time the Bishop was there to do the First Communion and he called my father to him after the ceremony and spoke to him on his own.
My father never mentioned what the Bishop said and we knew, my mother and I, better than to ask if he said nothing.
Not talking was what my parents were experts at; well not talking about the things that mattered like the stresses each of us experienced settling into life in England.
I was only when I was fifteen that I found out why the priest in Trinidad had been strange to my dad.
One day my dad called me to him, my mum was in Germany visiting her family, and dad seemed desperate to talk.
It took him ages to tell me what was on his mind, first he alarmed me as he was muttering that what he had done was a dreadful sin.
And just w hen I thought here it comes I am adopted he said ‘’ that he hoped I would be able to forgive him some day’’
Was really alarmed thought that I was about to hear something really bad and instead heard that he had been married before he met my mum.
He told me that he had 2 girls from his first marriage and one of them, the older Yvette, would be visiting us the next day.
I was amazed, more so that he had thought it was a sin, but of course did not realise he was only repeating the official church line.
Divorce was seen as a huge sin by the church and marrying again the worse thing you could do and my dad had done both.
It is only now years later that I understand the situation for my parents.
Dad was excommunicated and although they would not physically stop him from being in church he could not receive communion.
The time the Bishop spoke to my dad, he told him that he was surprised that seeing as he was such an embarrassment that he was still living in Trinidad.
The Bishops advice was do everyone a favour and leave the Islands, which is what we did do in 1962 when we moved to England.
I had huge question marks about the church and its teachings and did not believe what they said.
It seemed hypocrisy to me and hearing my dad’s story convinced me that my gut instincts had been correct.
Once I left home I never went to church and decided that I did not need any big daddy figures telling me what to do.
I did not like the hypocrisy that I had seen and felt that I could and would take control of my own life.
I would make my own decisions based on principles of justice and equality and human compassion and not based on any superstition and prejudice.
I would take full responsibility for my life and my actions, which I have done, have also never insulted or abused anyone for their beliefs.
As far as I am concerned everyone is free to believe what they want as long as they do not force me to join them.
I like to treat everyone with the respect that they deserve as human beings, and believe that everyday we should carry out random acts of kindness on the principle that what goes round comes round.
We human beings need each other to survive.