The National Catholic Review

Not being a New Yorker, I had never heard of Christine Quinn before catching a recent interview with her on NPR.  I was listening to Weekend Edition Sunday while diligently riding my exercise bike, but my pace slowed when she was asked about the difficulty of being Catholic and lesbian. The interviewer wondered if the tension between those two realities of her life had ever made her contemplate leaving the faith.

 

Here is a bit of Ms. Quinn’s response: “How can you leave a faith?  Faith is who you are. It’s what’s inside of you. It’s how you see the world . . . It’s what uplifts you in the dark days . . . Why should I leave the church? It’s my church.”

 

And I thought (with apologies to both Catholics and lesbians), “Damn straight!”

 

How can you leave a faith? This has been the question hanging like fog over my life for the past several years, as my lesbian daughter has taken a beloved wife, as my husband has found safe harbor in the Episcopalian church, as the façade of my perfect Catholic world has crumbled. I love my family deeply, but I go to Mass alone. I used to be a pillar of my parish. Now I am not.

 

I was surprised when Ms. Quinn said that no one has ever suggested to her that she leave the church. I’m happy that she has been accepted for who she is. My experience has been different. As a columnist for a secular newspaper who has written in support of civil rights for our gay and lesbian children, and as a founding member of the local PFLAG chapter in a conservative town, I live on shaky Catholic ground. I have been encouraged by some people in my church to leave, to move on, to figure out where I should worship, because I am no longer a good Catholic fit. I have been removed from ministries I love. I can rarely get my work published in the Catholic press anymore.

 

Yet I’m still here. I am Catholic. Catholicism is in my cells. It is what sustains me. I am in love with the Eucharist, and there is, oddly, strength in the struggle. Ms. Quinn’s snappy response has made me believe that maybe I can stop apologizing for staying in my own home.  I may be one of the anonymous people in the back pews, but I do not feel called by God to leave. Besides, as Ms. Quinn noted, “If I leave, it’s as if they won.”

 

How can you leave a faith? It’s a question both rhetorical and impossible. How can you leave your identity, your self, your soul?

Comments

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SHEILA KODADEK | 7/24/2012 - 5:54pm
Valerie, this afternoon I found a copy I'd saved of your essay ''The Way Things Are Going: Should I Leave the Church?'' (America, August 12-22, 2006). I kept it because it touched me deeply when I first read it, now almost 6 years ago. It had the same effect when I read it again today. I went online to find out what you decided in the end and I found the welcome answer here. I understand completely your decision to stay in spite of everything, and I am grateful. You and Ms. Quinn speak for all of us who find the Catholic Church at its best is worth the pain of staying in our present, troubled time. Thank you always for your elegant writing that is so deeply infused with wisdom and grace.
JIM MCCREA | 7/3/2012 - 7:34pm
Jeanne said:  
“I came to see that while the RCC's roots go all the way back (as do the roots of the Orthodox churches), it has no unique claim on 'understanding' - instead it has created its own self-serving massive library of documents to support its own conclusions about itself - often in attempts to shore up its own 'authority', based on its own earlier interpretations!”
This might be a good time to (once again) recommend a thorough reading of Philip Jenkins' fascinating "The Lost History of Christianity."  In it you'll find, among other things, that Latin Rite (i.e., European or “Roman”) Catholicism is better described as the largest survivor of the original Churches as opposed to being "the original."  A virtually total purge of Christianity, mostly by Islam and most particularly in Asia, left Europe as the geographical heart of the Christian faith.  Whole areas were made devoid of Christian communities and believers elsewhere were reduced to a tiny fraction of the population.
To quote Jenkin's work (page 25):  "The uprooting (of the Asian Churches between 1200 & 1500 by Islam) created the Christianity that we commonly think of today as the true historical norm, but which, in reality was the product of the elimination of alternative realities.  Christianity did indeed become 'European', but about a millennium later than most people think."
Is this survival of what is now called Roman Catholicism proof that it is “Christ’s church?”  I think it more an accident of history as opposed to any Divine Imprimatur.
JIM MCCREA | 7/3/2012 - 7:29pm
I think many "Roaming Catholics" do not feel that they have left the Church but, rather, that the RCC has left them.  As a gay man I DEFINITELY feel this way, and at the age of 71 I'm not going to sit around and wait for some bishop or pope to pat me on the head and say, "well, Jim, as soon as you do (or pretend to do) things our way we'll be happy to fawn all over you." 

Granted they are now doing this for the SSPX and the Orneryariate, but I am not holding my breath.  Life is too short and the church is too wide to put up with this nonsense any more.
Jeanne Linconnue | 7/3/2012 - 12:51pm
Martin, I find the faith journeys of others to be fascinating.  Your story is mine in reverse. As a younger person, I pretty much accepted the claims Rome made for itself. As I got older and I began to have serious doubts about many teachings, I began to study. I realized that this self-study would have to be done on my own - because the church's own documents are very selective in what they choose to include, ignoring a great deal of church history and biblical scholarship.  (Note that the Catechism's footnotes mostly refer back to Vatican documents, as do most papal and other documents out of Rome - sometimes they cite passages (very selectively of course) original documents of the early church, very occasionally they refer to carefully selected passages of scriptures, but seldom if ever do they cite non-Vatican-written scholarly documents).  So I began reading and researching, tracing troublesome teachings back to source documents, and also studying more about the history and cultural contexts of the times of the original documents. I did a little reading about biblical scholarship - only the stuff written for lay people, of course, as I didn't want to get lost in a lot of arcane academic jargon, but serious works nonetheless.  And in the end, although not an agnostic, still nominally Roman Catholic, I came to the opposite conclusion that you did while undertaking a similar path it seems. I came to see that while the RCC's roots go all the way back (as do the roots of the Orthodox churches), it has no unique claim on ''understanding'' - instead it has created its own self-serving massive library of documents to support its own conclusions about itself - often in attempts to shore up its own ''authority'', based on its own earlier interpretations!  Rather fascinating. Some Roman Catholics literally equate the institution with God, and seem to believe that the utterings of popes and bishops are somehow ''channeling'' God's own thoughts.  I have come to think of this as a form of idolatry really, replacing God with an institution and with a handful of very fallible human beings. Only God is infallible. No human being nor groups of human beings meeting in councils or speaking as the faceless ''magisterium'' is infallible. (Infallibility was one of the teachings I studied, not surprisingly).

But, you are right about yourself. Since you do accept the church's claims about itself then you have little choice in conscience but to stay. I do hope you have figured out a way not to enable, however.

Peace!

Martin Gallagher | 7/2/2012 - 10:04pm
Jeanne,


Yes, I'm familiar with the Protestant interpretation of early church history - I used to make the same arguments myself first as an agnostic, then as a nondemoninational Christian, and then as a cafeteria Catholic.  However, after reading the Fathers, the old arguments didn't hold water for me.

I do agree that many Catholics remain in the Church without really knowing or following the faith for cultural reasons or, (as I did as a cafeteria Catholic) simply that it was a better fit than many of the Protestant or Orthodox Churches.  However, in my initial post, I was simply saying that a Catholic who really believes in his/her faith could not possibly leave because he/she believes that is what Jesus wants of us.  This is our perspective.  I realize non-Catholics and even some non-believing Catholics  don't hold that point of view.

n.b. The point I made about not using the term "Roman" is because we use Catholic to denote all the churches in full communion with the pope - Maronite, Ukranian, Chaldean, Coptic Catholic, Ruthenian, etc.  I understand that Protestants use the term "Roman" for us because some Protestant denominations consider themselves catholic in the small 'c' sense.

Anyway, I suspect you are a sincere follower of Christ.  I wish you the best.


Theresa Ferron | 7/2/2012 - 6:28pm
I to struggle with the thought of leaving the RCC. As a cradle catholic educated in Catholic schools, I feel pushed out. I am not going quietly from the back pew but rather from up front in the choir. I consider myself a cafeteria catholic ( small c's are mine) I really prefer the term Jesus follower as it fits better. I have been told I am not a Real Catholic as my world view is often at odds with Rome. I have been invited to leave too, my response why ? this is MY CHURCH let Rome leave.
Thomas Rooney OFS | 7/2/2012 - 10:34am
"Why don't you leave the Church if you have so many problems with it?" has been put to me more than once by a number of people; some honestly curious, some combative, and many somewhere in between.

I've never been able to answer quite as succintly as Ms. Quinn answered; I've always felt the need to apologize, to explain, to defend where I am on my faith journey.  I answer as if I were embarrassed by the very real issues I have with the hierarchy. 

However, I think I will take Ms. Quinn's lead going forward.  The Church is MY home too.  And I will not be run out of my home.
Jeanne Linconnue | 7/2/2012 - 7:50am
Most who are not Roman Catholic (Roman is used to distinguish the church headed by the pope in Rome with other churches who are part of the catholic church - including the Orthodox and Anglican) do not consider the Roman Catholic church alone to be ''Christ's'' church, which includes all those who followed Christ - all Christians.  They are part of Christ's church and have no need of being members of the Roman Catholic church, directly or indirectly in order to be full members of Christ's church. 

The use of the term ''catholic'' in its general meaning (lower case ''c'') is ancient, but it did not refer specifically to what is now known as the Roman Catholic church.  The papacy was created in hindsight. Most christians accept the Nicene Creed and affirm that they believe in the ''holy, catholic church'' and obviously they are not referring to the Roman Catholic church. But of course the creed was developed at a council called by an emperor who was worried that the divisions among the christians could hurt his imperial strategy - a council that Rome did not influence very much, if the truth be told, and the pope of the time did not attend. After all, he was just one bishop among several and the church (Christ's church) was pretty much centered in the east at that time, not in Rome.  Rome came to more prominence  in the church after a while because Rome was the heart of the Roman Empire and the branch of the church that was there eventually adapted for itself to many imperial structures - imperial structures that have lasted to this day, unfortunately.    Rome eventually tried to exert ''primacy'' in the whole christian church  - the catholic church - leading finally to the great schism between east and west. It was after this time (the 11th century) that the terms ''Eastern Orthodox'' and ''Roman Catholic'' came into common use.

But, I'm sure you know all this.

And, history aside, the thirty million American Roman Catholics who have left are still members of Christ's church, if not members of the Roman Catholic church. 

There is little point in continuing this side discussion, as interpretations of history are also varied, just as are interpretations of scripture (none of which was written during Christ's lifetime, but not started until decades after his death). Roman Catholics have a strong cultural identity, just as do Orthodox christians and also Jewish people.  Leaving the ''culture'' of the Roman Catholic church is often hard, as it is as much a part of identity as being American.  That is why so many stay in spite of dissenting from many church teachings - not just the hot button teachings such as homosexuality which impacts the author of this post, but teachings such as transubstantiation (although most believe that Christ is present in the eucharist), papal infallibility etc. Most active Roman Catholics in the US do not accept those teachings, nor the teachings on the ''hot button'' issues, but stay because of the strong pull of family tradition and identity.  But, leaving the Roman Catholic church does not mean leaving their faith, which is (I hope) in God and in Jesus, not in a particular denomination of Christ's church.
Martin Gallagher | 7/2/2012 - 12:24am
Jeanne,

By their baptism, other Christians are indirectly members of the Catholic church (Catholics typically do not use the term "Roman Catholic") although other Christiams are not in full communion with us. 

Early Christians were much more Cathoilc than you may realize.  They recognized apostolic authority & succession with Petrine primacy as well as the real presence in the Eucharist.  The first documented use of the word catholic ("according to the whole") was ~ 110 AD - not that long after Jesus' death/resurrection by Ignatus of Antioch, a disciple of John the apostle. 
Jeanne Linconnue | 7/1/2012 - 11:37pm
May I ask then, Martin, what of those followers of Christ who are not members of the Roman Catholic church - are they too also members of Christ's church? 

The Roman Catholic church was something that evolved long after Jesus's death.  Jesus did not found  the "Roman Catholic Church" - he was a Jew and the disciples who followed him while he was alive were also Jews. Peter and Paul and the apostles were Jews - Jesus and all of his disciples during his lifetime lived and died as Jews.  All who followed Christ were eventually called "christians" - the earliest christians were Jews.

Martin Gallagher | 7/1/2012 - 9:54pm
Jeanne,

I used to believe Christ's Church referred to all those Christians who follow him - not just the Catholic Church.  Although I now accept the historical claims of the Catholic Church, I can certainly empathize with those who do not.  My point above was that for those of us who accept this, it woudl be unthinnkable to leave because that would be a disobedience to Christ.

Luisa Navarro | 7/1/2012 - 5:50pm
Just try being a little less American. Catholic means universal. Americans have a funny tendency to "leave your faith".
Jeanne Linconnue | 7/1/2012 - 5:37pm
I guess, Martin, that it all depends on how you define ''church.'' 

Of course, that is not a word that is found much in the gospels.  But many people consider Christianity to be Christ's church - ALL those who seek to follow Christ, not simply one denomination among thousands of christian churches, albeit the largest and one of the two oldest.  The Orthodox believe, of course, that THEY are the only true, direct descendants of the early church - that THEY, not the Roman Catholic church, are the ''one, true church.''  And some Protestants believe that the earlier Christian church in the west (now called Roman Catholic) went completely off-track, betraying the gospels, and that Catholicism is not only not ''Christ's church'' but a betrayal of Christ's church.

It is really quite understandable that many agree with that judgment and can quite easily leave the Roman Catholic church while remaining in the church of Jesus Christ.

There actually are more than one interpretation of the famous passage about Peter and rock and the ''keys''.  The Roman Catholic church has chosen an interpretation that favors its own claims. However, a billion Christians disagree with that interpretation. Those christians are also part of Christ's church.

Crystal Watson | 7/1/2012 - 4:11pm
I agree about Ignatius of Loyola.  It was a Jesuit retreat that converted me and it's Ignatian spirituality that keeps me going.  But Ignatius'  Spiritual Exercises is not all about being Catholic,  it is  all about  fostering a relationship with Jesus - the retreat is about God working directly with individuals, and it's given by and available to everyone, Catholic or not.
david power | 7/1/2012 - 12:09pm
Thomas,

Thanks for the info on St Ignatius,I didn't realize he was canonized.Tongue-in-cheek never seems to cross the Atlantic :).
De Mello was a very interesting writer and so I had the suspicion he was a heretic(don't lose me here).He wrote many things and not just that about Letting go.
Association to Ignatius does not exclude one from heresy.
If the wind had blown another way he himself would have been burned at the stake and we would all be praying to Savanarola...
Anyway, be good and have a nice Sunday.   
JIM MCCREA | 7/1/2012 - 11:09am
While I sympathize with Valerie, I think there is a danger in conflating one's faith with membership in a particular denomination.

As was pointed out above, most Catholics were born into it - they didn't choose it.   A mature decision about where to best foster and live out your faith doesn't necessarily mean going along with your parents' choice, no matter how far back your family goes in that particular denomination.
Stanley Kopacz | 7/1/2012 - 10:15am
I am an American and will continue to be one, although a very disgruntled, angry one.  This country is far from living up to its principles and capabilities and is more oligarchy than democracy now.  I guess the mental configuration that allows me to do that dovetails with my remaining a Catholic.  I like Kent Dean's idea about boycotting church for this last weekend of the F-cubed.  I don't feel like exposing myself to another drama queen sermon.  And the politically inspired prayers.
KEN LOVASIK | 7/1/2012 - 9:43am
Wonderful post and discussion!  The Faith is the treasure (the gift) and the church is the container.  St. Augustine once wrote; "There are many that Christ has that the church does not have; there are many the church has that Christ does not have."  When we forget (or choose to forget) that 'Roman Catholic' is a way of being Christian, we get caught in the net of our own narrow thinking.
T BLACKBURN | 7/1/2012 - 9:04am
In the depths of my Catholic soul I am appalled at the cover-up of child abuse. I am shocked and chagrinned that consecrated leaders would place the preservation of the institution ahead of both Christ and people. I am sad that I know, and the leaders don't seem to know, that the gates of the netherworld will not prevail. I have to conclude that we have pretty sorry leadership in the Church at the moment, and especially in this country with its Fortnight of Fanaticism. I am tired of having to reply to questions from my secular acquaintances with, "No excuse, sir."

But all of these feelings and conclusions are aroused by what the Church taught me. Another important lesson - "consecrated incompetence is still incompetence" -  I heard directly from a bishop, although he credited Mathew Ahmann. If I were to leave the Church, I would be leaving on the basis of what I have absorbed by being in the Church.

Well, things were worse in the Renaissance. The roots are strong. The branches, at the moment, are for the birds, but the tree will come back.
Thomas Farrell | 7/1/2012 - 8:54am
Anthony de Mello, S.J. (1931-1987), does indeed write about letting go. Letting go is perfectly consistent with the statement in the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES of Ignatius Loyola known as the Principle and Foundation (paragraph 23). Ignatius Loyola was the founder of the Society of Jesus, and Ignatius Loyola is also a canonized saint in the Roman Catholic Church, not a heretic.
Chris Sullivan | 7/1/2012 - 3:53am
Thanks Valerie for hanging in there with the Church when it isn't easy and when others want to exclude you.

Thank you for standing with your daughter and for your work with PLAG.

Sounds to me that you actually are a pillar of your parish.

Will keep you in our prayers.

God Bless
Jeanne Linconnue | 6/30/2012 - 11:09pm
It seems a lot of Catholics have had no trouble at all leaving their ''faith''. According to the researach I have read, at least 30 million cradle catholics in the US alone are now ''former'' Catholics, plus there are tens of millions in Europe who are ''former'' Catholics and now many in Latin America.

 Crystal makes a good point. The church (any church) - religion -  is just a means to the end. It is not the end. Maybe their ''faith'' isn't in a church denomination, but in God. And so they can leave.

This comment is curious to me - ''Ms. Watson, to me, the point is that, just as being in a marriage, one doesn't renege on a vocation without paying a drastic price. (Catholicism isn't the object of worship; it's a conduit.)

Most Catholics didn't choose Catholicism - it was chosen for them when they were infants. So to call it a ''vocation'' is highly inaccurate. Leaving the Catholic church is not ''reneging'' in a vocation. It is the decision of an adult who has decided that the Catholic church is not the best ''conduit'' to God, for their individual spiritual journey. 
Patricia Bergeron | 6/30/2012 - 10:11pm
Dear Valerie,

There are many of us ''anonymous people in the back pews'' and we all struggle. We struggle because we take our faith seriously and strive to be true to our own conscience. I feel sad that the present climate in the church often makes us feel unwelcome. What the orthodox fail to realize is that seeking and struggling are the first steps on the road to faith.
Kang Dole | 6/30/2012 - 9:16pm
Why not go ask somebody who converted to your faith? They would probably have a thing or two to say.
Rick Fueyo | 6/30/2012 - 9:12pm
Excellent sentiments on opening post and comments.  Thanks to all
6466379 | 6/30/2012 - 8:09pm
The Pope could not have said it better!  Yes,   “Faith is WHO you are. It’s what’s INSIDE of you … why should I leave the Church? It’s MY Church.” Thanks Christine Quinn!
 Every Sacrament is effective in its own singular way, unique to itself.  One of the effects of Baptism into the Church, into Christianity, is its irreversibility. Once    Baptized   you can never   be unbaptized, the Christian character remains. Once a Christian always a Christian! Catholicism is the most ancient and most accurate expression of Christianity, not institutionally obviously, but at its most robust, root source as the Mystical Body of Christ!
 It used to be explained that, the Sacrament of Baptism “imprints” an “indelible mark” on the soul of a Christian (Catholic.) Through Baptism Christ configures himself to the soul, making the soul capable of inheriting the Kingdom, as King, Prophet, Priest, all characteristics unique to Baptism. Baptism is no piddling cutsie ceremony - its consequence is tremendous! As Christine said,  “Faith is WHO you are. It’s what’s inside of you … why should I leave the Church? It’s MY Church!” You may "leave" the Church, but Christianity (Church) follows you wherever you go, whether or not we know it.
Baptism which comes in three forms, Water, Blood, Desire  is a most precious gift. Baptism by Water is the most common, Blood, when one sheds blood to the point of death for Christ as many in the early Church did and in places today as always, continue to do and Desire is an open door to the Kingdom offered to all people of Good Will, wherein formal Baptism is not required. In the final anaylsis GOOD WILL is all that's needed to make Baptism of Desire happen and one doesn't even have to formally acknowledge it. As Christine Quinn said, “It’s what’s inside of you” that counts! Baptism makes us who we are. It gives me a Church. Why should I leave it.  Yes, WHY?
 
Robert Dean | 6/30/2012 - 6:17pm
I strive in vain to detect whom you're quoting in using the word "agreement," Ms. Watson.  But this is academic:  After being conflated by you with Nazis and hoodlums, I no longer give a damn about your superficial take on my "attitude" (your word), and I realize that trying to explain myself to you was a grave error on my part akin to spitting in the wind.
Crystal Watson | 6/30/2012 - 5:03pm
I guess for me the "agreement" I entered into was with God not the Catholic Church.  It's not that I don't feel the tug of loyalty - that's why I still identify as Catholic - but if we belong to a group that does things we ourselves find morally questionable, and yet still we stay, what reasons can we give that are good enough?  This kind of attitude informs people as disparate as the Germans during WWII to gang members in inner cities - it's not really something to be necessarily proud of.  The kingdom of God is bigger than any church.  A church only points the way to it, it can't take the place of it.  Or at least, so I think :)
Robert Dean | 6/30/2012 - 4:46pm
Ms. Watson, to me, the point is that, just as being in a marriage, one doesn't renege on a vocation without paying a drastic price. (Catholicism isn't the object of worship; it's a conduit.)
Crystal Watson | 6/30/2012 - 3:46pm
"How can you leave a faith?"

Maybe because I wasn't raised a Catholic, this question just doesn't make sense to me. It's as if Catholicism is what's being worshipped here, not Jesus/God. 
Robert Dean | 6/30/2012 - 3:22pm
While I won't be going to Mass this Sunday (in a silent, futile protest against the "Fortnight for Freedom" nonsense), I have no intention to leave the Church.  I was invited here, you see, and the Extender of the invitation (secret: It wasn't a deacon, priest, bishop or pope) doesn't appear to have withdrawn it.
 
Beth Cioffoletti | 6/30/2012 - 3:02pm
Exactly, Valerie! (damn straight!)

For awhile I wondered whether I was in or out, but I realized that that was the wrong frame of reference.  As if Catholicism was an external club that you can join or leave or even get kicked out of.  Then, like you, I came to realize that Catholicism was within me and around me.  A Reality. There's no such thing as "leaving". 
david power | 7/1/2012 - 5:50am
As always an excellent posting from Valerie Schultz.I find her an incredibly good read.
That said ,Crystal makes a very valid point.
The most chauvinist christians are Catholics.
You can have Jesuit Priests who are just into being "Jesuits" and like the sound of it all and the role-play involved.
You have martyr-types who see themselves as modern day Giordano Brunos or Galileos and are waiting for the church to catch up with their intellect.
Then others who have the sense that they are all that stands between the world and the abyss.
Catholics seem to have difficulty just being "christians". We want to wear the uniform and include all of our medals.
What is it to be catholic?Any definition I give will not suffice.What do others think?I think that those who are overly self-conscious about being catholic are not really that steeped in the philosophy of life.I think of the "Jesuit"  or the assorted actors who proclaim their  catholicism and inhabit a world of "catholic" reference.Anthony De Mello(he is a heretic by the way) says that spirituality implies a letting go more than a holding on. I think to answer the original question , we can of course "leave" the Church.Absolutely.Post-haste.But what counts is what Jesus wants.The Pope would have you believe that Jesus is pulling his hair out when catholics leave His Church.Maybe He is. This unfaithful generation needs a sign...  
Crystal Watson | 6/30/2012 - 9:09pm
I didn't mean to compare anyone to Nazis or hoodlums.  I meant to say that unconditional loyalty is not always a virtue.  I do feel conflicted about belonging to a church that, for instance, promotes people like Cardinal Law.  When friends ask me why I'm still a Catholic, given  things like this, I have trouble answering them. 
Winifred Holloway | 6/30/2012 - 4:50pm
On point comments from Beth,Kent and Crystal.  Valerie, you are a gift to me and I am sure to many others of us who live in the facts-on-the-ground real world of committed Catholic Christians.  We are staying - really how could we leave what is our spiritual home?  We do need support though and hopefully all of us have found it in friends who yearn for the return of the big, open and loving church we came of age in.  I, and many others, I suspect also find this support in our online community of Catholics who also love the Eucharist and will not give in to this transitional period where we are sorely tested.   You go to Mass alone, Valerie.  You are not the only one.  You and many of us can only hope that we model for  our disillusioned fellow Catholics (not to mention our children) that to stay, tolerate ambiguity and follow where the Spriit leads is all we can do.
Martin Gallagher | 7/1/2012 - 4:37pm
What about truth?  Who is Jesus Christ?  Did He found a visible (albeit imperfect) church?  If you accept the lordship of Jesus Christ and accept, as a matter of history,  that He left us a church so that we may be one people, you cannot leave Catholicism.  Stuggles with some of its doctrines and sins of its members (including our own) may persist, but certainly don't warrant leaving.