Priest turns Atheist: Final Divorce from the Catholic Churchby Don Lacey on Jul. 29, 2012, under Art & Culture, Atheism, Christianity, Clarity, Critical Thinking, Ethics, Faith, Freethought, God & Bible, History, Logic, Materialism, Reason, Religion, Sanity, Skepticism
In this part of Dr Stephen Uhl’s story, he leaves his comfortable, secure life. This is a tough time but he gets help from an unexpected source. While Dr. Uhl’s transition was smoother than expected, he is fully aware of what others face and now supports the Clergy Project. The Clergy Project has over 300 current members and there is no way of knowing how many other religious leaders are wrestling with intellectual, ethical, philosophical and theological issues but are stuck with the only job that they know. The Clergy members support each other in coping with cognitive dissonance and understand the feelings of being stuck and fearing the future. Religious leaders often need help looking for new careers and telling their families. By communicating with others in similar circumstances there are advantages such as sharing useful resources and getting support when it becomes necessary to leave the ministry.
In June 1967, I left my monastic family and friends at Marmion. Many of the friends are still unforgettable. After all, I had lived closely with most of this group of men for 17 years. The attitude of Abbot Gerald, an intelligent gentleman to the end, was rather touching. Shortly after I had signed his proffered form promising “not to sue” for whatever cause, he surprised me. Without any hint or suggestion from me, he opened his office safe and handed me an impressive amount of cash to help me get started in the real world. Frankly, I have always felt that this bright Ph.D. summa cum laude would have jumped at the chance to follow me to independence and freedom if he had been 10 years younger and if he had not enjoyed so much organizational power and comfort. (I think the same is true of many Catholic bishops in powerful and cushy positions.)
Thanks to helpful friends, I really was not nearly as needy as Abbot Gerald had feared. Besides, as an experienced teacher with more than a master’s degree, I had already signed an attractive contract with an outstanding suburban school district. I never went hungry.
I did have some lonely times. In fact, I visited Marmion to see old friends several times. However, I sensed an underlying discomfort in some of the monks and clear disapproval in others, so I soon stopped those trips from Des Plaines to Aurora, Illinois. Besides, my work and increasing social interests gradually filled my life; this made the final steps of my divorce from Marmion less painful than the initial ones.