Catholic Guilt

I am a substitute teacher at a local high school and over the years I have gotten to know a young man named Carlos.  He is generally a good kid, very shy, pretty smart.  He doesn’t know who is father is, lives with his aunt and has been practically forced to run with the wrong crowd.  As a result, he has had a few brushes with the law.  He is not into school.  When I talk to him, I want to hug him and slap him on the head at the same time.   So much potential.

I hadn’t seen Carlos in about six months but this weekend, as I was driving to Home Depot, I noticed him sitting at a bus stop.  I yelled over to him, he waved enthusiastically and I told him to jump in my car so I could give him a ride home.  We hit a bunch of traffic so we had time to catch up.  He told me how he was working two jobs at two fast food restaurants but was looking elsewhere because he was “getting tired of food places.”  He continues to send money to his mother who lives about 50 miles away.  He doesn’t get excited about much but he beamed when he told me he was attending a “junior police academy” sponsored by the high school.

I asked him where he had been before I saw him at the bus stop and his already soft voice got even softer and he mumbled “I was visiting my baby’s momma.”

Incredulous, certain that I hadn’t heard right, I looked at him and said “What???”

“Oh, yeah, well, uh…I’m gonna be a Daddy.”

His friendly demeanor has always made it difficult for me to get mad at him but this time I wanted to slap him in the head.

“Are you kidding me?    You got a girl pregnant?  Are you out of your fucking mind?”

The minute I said it, I wanted to take it back but it was too late.  We talked about how it happened, who the girl was (his girlfriend since the 8th grade), what his plans were, etc.  He said he would probably have to drop out of school to get a full time job, deferring his dream of entering the police force.   Then, I threw out the bombshell.

Catholic Guilt Trip

“Did you two consider an abortion?”  The tension in the car rose palpably.

“Well, we’re both Catholic.   We talked about it once but we know that God would not be happy if we did that and we would go to Hell.”   I thought of making a quick detour to his church to confront the head priest or whatever he is called, but I again held back.

So, these two kids originally defied their church when they had sex before getting married but when that act produced a fetus, they could not defy their church again.  And now they were stuck because their church had indoctrinated them for who knows how many years about the “evils” of abortion.  And now they were going to be parents.

But not to worry!   Things will be fine because their church will no doubt be there for them when the bills start coming in, right?  That priest will certainly organize fundraising drives for Carlos and his new family to pay for the clothes, the food, the sport uniforms, the field trips.  I mean, they are good Christians so they’ll be there every step of the way, right?  Of course they will be there to help because, after all, they were the ones who convinced these two kids that that oh-so-precious life inside that girl must be protected at all costs.

We all know that there are many Catholics out there that ultimately have abortions.  But think about the incredible guilt they will carry with them for the rest of their lives because the Church – the male dominated Church – has deemed that that little thing that is in the woman’s body is a “life” that needs protecting.

So, because the church basically forces pregnant Catholics to give birth, Carlos and his girlfriend will go through the drill.  You can tell he is not excited, but he wants to do the responsible thing.  She will have the baby, they will break up within a few years, he will send her money, never see his child and the mother and child will enter that never ending cycle of poverty.

Does the Church not see what they are doing?  Is it so damned important to protect that “life” and practically destroy these two kid’s lives in the process?