Leslie Hittner

Leslie Hittner.

Now that the election is over, my wife and I have had to ask ourselves a couple questions. You see, we have not gone back to our old church since I walked out. We chose not to do so for two reasons: We didn’t want to be counted as a part of the Mass attendees (The Winona Diocese counts Mass attendees every October.) and I did not want to make “walking out” a routine that could disrupt the religious ceremonies of other parishioners during those pre-election campaign prayers.

But now the election is over. “Our side” won. October is past. What do we do next? We believe that our church is still on the wrong side of the civil same-sex marriage debate. The hierarchy is still refusing to take full responsibility for the sexual abuse cover-up in the church. Vatican II initiatives — the hope of the church — are still being increasingly misrepresented and pushed aside.

We are not willing to return to “business as usual.” We are not willing to accept a regression to a pre-Vatican II church. We are not willing to abide by the demands of a hierarchy that is more concerned about its own organizational success and appearances than it is about teaching the rest of us what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We aren’t willing to go back to that church.

And some Catholics don’t seem to want us back. A common reply to our concerns has been, “If you don’t believe what the Church teaches — leave. Find another church that you can agree with.” There really is no dialogue. There is no discussion. There is only a requirement for obedience — and blind obedience at that.

We are not willing to do that. We have worked for many years to bring the vision of Vatican II into the real world. We believe that Vatican II is happening — and that the hierarchy cannot stop it. It may take another 50 years. Moreover, we may never see the institutional church take responsibility for its misguided views of sex — but that will happen. We may never see women priests or married priests accepted by the hierarchy in our lifetimes — but those changes, too, will happen

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If we cannot work within the currently structured church to bring about those sorts of changes, then perhaps we will have to work from the fringes. Like border collies, we and others will nip at the heels of the hierarchy until a dialogue can be initiated. Indeed, we are not alone. We have met a number of people who love the Roman Catholic Church and wish to see it redirect its focus to Jesus rather than institution.

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So, instead of returning to business as usual, we have elected to become involved with the All Are One Roman Catholic Church Parish in Winona.

You see, Vatican II did happen. It cannot be undone.

We’re not going back.

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(2) comments


As do I agree with Leslie. 50% of Catholics voted for Obama vs. 48% or so for Romney. Not very good odds considering that motorized wheel chair that I saw with the "I'm Catholic and I Vote" bumper sticker.


For anyone to disrupt the continuity of their spiritual lives in a small community is no small matter. I admire the Hittners’ having the courage of their convictions. Bravo!

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