My problem is that I am an agnostic. I am not an atheist like the Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins. I take a much more scientific approach than the professor. I do not exclude God. How can anyone, especially from a scientific point of view? Before the Big Bang, what was there? Nothing? What is nothing? How do you create something out of nothing? As a scientific kind of guy, I would not be surprised if the final scientific discovery is that God exists.
But so what? Even if by some miracle I was able to decide that I believed in God, why would I have to pray to him? For what, exactly? To thank him? For my mother’s cancer? To ask him for a favor? A cure for my mother’s cancer? To ask God to forgive my sins so I can live forever in heaven instead of hell? OK, perhaps, but if he is God he knows all about my sins anyway, so why tell a priest about them as well?
Carla will not listen to reason. I say: “Why can’t I just stay Anglican?” No dice. “You Anglicans are heretics, no better than Jehovah’s Witnesses,” she says.
I say: “So only Catholics go to heaven, is that it? Moslems—where do they go? Sikhs? What about the poor Buddhists? What did they ever do to deserve hell?”
On Sunday mornings Carla, me, and the five children go to mass where I observe but do not take communion and on Sunday evenings, after the English Sunday roast, we all sit down in front of our peach-colored fridge to which are attached images of Jesus and Mary to recite the Rosary.
However hard I try I find it impossible to believe that the bread is actually the body of Christ and the wine is actually the blood of Christ as Catholics do. If I point out, “So you Catholics are cannibals,” Carla really hits the roof. And there’s no way she’s going to get me to confess my sins. Not to a priest. Not in Italy where the judiciary is tapping and bugging everyone and the confessional is such an obvious place to get the dirt on anyone, even a saint like me.
A week ago, she rang the bishopric in person and somehow got through to the bishop. He put her on to Don Pietro, who looks after difficult conversions. They fixed an appointment together for me to see him in the bishopric.
I went and told him the truth: I’m an agnostic but was baptized and confirmed an Anglican and Carla wanted me to convert. I said I did not mind, given how much it meant to her and the children who could not wait to see the day of my first Catholic communion.
Don Pietro, a very down-to-earth man, told me that I could not convert unless I believed in God. End of story. Well, thank God for that!
Carla was furious. “You played the vittima, didn’t you? How dare you sputtanarmi (slander me)? Con te, ho chiuso (I’m finished with you)!” she bellowed.
“Darling, we can’t be finished, because we are married and you are a Catholic,” I replied.
God, I need a drink.
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