Finally, some good news for Team Catholic: we beat the Scientologists for Katie Holme’s affection! According to recent news reports, the more statuesque half of TomKat has just registered at St. Francis Xavier parish in Manhattan. This would give some credence to the suggestions that one of the reasons fair Katie decided to go rogue on Maverick was because she just couldn’t take being surrounded by glassy-eyed acolytes of the Science Fiction Tabernacle.
Of course, the official talking heads deny it. A joint statement issued by the couple’s lawyers emphasized that Tom and Katie wanted to ‘respect’ their ‘respective’ beliefs. Somehow, though, the civility of those sentiments is a little hard to swallow, especially when you think of how deeply involved Cruise has been in the Scientology culture. He is to L. Ron Hubbard’s boutique religion what John the Baptist was to Catholicism: loud, proud and a bit daft. Had there been sofas lining the banks of the River Jordan, it is quite possible that St. John might have jumped on one of them. As for Tom, we know what he’s capable of when excited.
As far as Katie, she never made a secret of her continued interest in Catholicism, talking about it in articles and leading everyone to believe that she hadn’t abandoned all of the tribal traditions even as she dipped some manicured toes into the scient-illogical waters. Like Nicole Kidman before her, who famously said once a Catholic, always a Catholic, Katie refused to be fully absorbed into the faith shared by rich, toothy movie stars. The young lady from Ohio was not a willing food source for the Hollywood amoeba.
Now, it may sound like I’m gloating a bit. I actually am. That’s not because I have any particular animus against Scientology, a religion that seems more like a spiritual boot camp than a legitimate faith. Who am I to question the relative virtues of another person’s beliefs, particularly since my own house is not exactly in the best order these days. What with Grand Jury indictments, outraged nuns and Alec Baldwin’s most recent marriage in a church (when I think Catholic values, I immediately think “Alec Baldwin”) we have some major problems to deal with.
But, as we approach the Olympic season, I can’t help feeling a little competitive when it comes to religious affiliation. The church has been dumped on for so long, by so many, that it’s nice to actually see someone choosing to remain with the faith as opposed to trashing it, or simply abandoning the pews. To listen to some journalists, including those who accept without question the claims of victims’ groups and defense attorneys, the church is a cesspool of pedophilia. If you even dare to defend it against attack, you have people accusing you of being an apologist for criminals (believe me, I know.)
So when someone like Katie Holmes decides to return to the faith of her childhood like a salmon swimming upstream, it’s heartwarming. At the very least, it provides proof that beyond the hype and the rhetoric thrown out there by lawyers and advocates and lapsed Catholics who want nothing more than to see the church fall apart, there is hope for us.
But you don’t really need to read the tabloids to get that. Last Sunday during Mass at St. Patrick’s, you could barely hear the priest over the gurgles and shouts and lisping tones of little ones. There was life in the pews, proof that the thing that draws Catholics home transcends the sins and crimes of flawed human beings. The mothers and fathers who brought their children to that teeming church were young, young enough to have been turned off by a decade of scandals and disappointments. And yet there they were, raising their families in the strained but unbroken circle of faith that withstands the shock and despair of cover-ups and criminality.
You might be saying, get over yourself Flowers. Just because some B level starlet decides to leave her hubby and his rocket ship theology doesn’t give you the right to say your mess of a religion is on the right track.
Actually, it does. The sex abuse scandal has been so devastating precisely because it destroyed the lives of innocent children. Trust, that most ephemeral of things, was shattered. But the fact that parents are still willing to raise their children in the church, including little Suri Cruise, is a strong sign that faith abides.