I was raised in the Roman Catholic church. When I was in college, I had a spiritual rebirth in which I believe the Holy Spirit gave me an understanding of the Gospel for the first time. I realized that in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, my sin was dealt with finally and fully. I knew that my salvation in Christ meant knowing God as my merciful and loving Father rather than as a vindictive Judge.
For some time, I was very confused about what community of faith I belonged to. I attended Catholic mass on Saturday nights and went to a "non-denominational" Protestant church with friends on Sunday mornings. Eventually, I only went to the Protestant church. And finally, after my wife and I became engaged (of course, she wasn't my wife then), we settled in a church that belonged to the Presbyterian Church in America denomination.
After leaving the Roman Catholic church, I held a significant degree of resentment toward it for some time. In that church body, I saw only the elements that I perceived to have been obstacles to my understanding and receiving the Gospel revealed in Scripture. To some extent, I still see those obstacles. I believe that there are significant problems with the theological committments and ecclesiastical structures of the Roman Catholic church that make it difficult for people to understand the free grace that God offers in the person and work of Jesus Christ for the salvation of sinners. Yet, as I have matured in my faith and become less insecure about my own theological commitments, I have become more able to see value in the beliefs of even those I disagree with. So, while I still have disagreements, I see much glory and beauty in the Roman Catholic church.
On Sunday, Benedict XVI was installed as the Bishop of Rome, Pope of the Roman Catholic church. I read the text of Benedict XVI's homily from that service and I was rather impressed. I encourage you to click on the link, read it, and let me know what you think. I cetainly have disagreements with some of the statments and themes from the homily. But, I was also encouraged that the main emphasis of the Pope's message was Christ. In the end, he did not leave us with a call to self-righteousness, or even to the sacraments, but instead with a call to find true freedom and real life in a relationship with Christ. That is a message of unencumbered Good News. And, I am thankful for it.