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Non-Catholic on the Camino

bobotron801

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Oct 2016, Oct-Nov 2017, April-May 2019, Oct-Dec 2019
I’m on my 3rd Camino right now, feeling a bit down. Maybe it was just a long hot day of walking. I myself am not Catholic and have my own reasons for being here. But over the last few weeks I’ve dealt with ridicule and off putting comments from other pilgrims. Possibly it’s my natural stance to feel defensive. Maybe it’s the language barriers. Starting to feel that I don’t belong here. This is far different from what I’ve experienced in the past.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Sorry to hear that you feel you do not belong. I'm not clear on what you are saying in your post though. Are you saying that the ridicule from others is simply because you are not Catholic? That would surprise me given the very great diversity of beliefs and practice amongst those who walk. As another non-Catholic who has walked a number of Caminos I have never felt anything more negative than some puzzlement at my motivation from Catholics I have met. Never open hostility. Or is the ridicule aimed at your own specific but unspecified reasons for being on the Camino?
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
I’m on my 3rd Camino right now, feeling a bit down. Maybe it was just a long hot day of walking. I myself am not Catholic and have my own reasons for being here. But over the last few weeks I’ve dealt with ridicule and off putting comments from other pilgrims. Possibly it’s my natural stance to feel defensive. Maybe it’s the language barriers. Starting to feel that I don’t belong here. This is far different from what I’ve experienced in the past.
Oh,

On what Camino may I ask? I have never experienced that. I have always had the impression that super religious people are a minority on the Camino.

/BP
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
It is not good that you are having to deal with that on the camino. I'm not catholic, or religious but never had any bad remarks made. Maybe I was lucky or you are just unlucky this time. There can be bad people anywhere of all types, even the odd one or two on camino.

Can you drop back a day (slow down) or speed up and get in another space, get away from them? You will meet new people, odds on a bit more nice and forgiving.

Don't let someone elses problems get you down mate, take care and Buen Camino

Davey
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Sorry you are getting the impression you don’t belong on Camino because you are non-Catholic. I don’t understand why the subject is even coming up. Are you offering up the information? There seem to be so many other things to focus on than one’s
religion. I agree with others ... step back, take a breather and try to start afresh. All the best 😊
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
Unfortunately narrow mindness is a interfaith phenomenon. And stupidity is international. Why should you burden yourself with their shortcomings? Just tell those so called Christians: You are in need of a lot of grace. So are we all. And then shake their dust out of your cloths and walk on sweetheart. It’s your Camino.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
ridicule and off putting comments from other pilgrims.
Starting to feel that I don’t belong here. This is far different from what I’ve experienced in the past.
I'm obviously not Catholic and this is absolutely not the Camino I know. It's not the Camino you know either, @bobotron801 - you say this is really different.
So as Davey suggests, try dropping back a day to give yourself some space from those who are probably just a few 'bad apples.'

There are people in the world right now who have the impression that it is now OK to openly ridicule others who are different than they are. Kindness is the best and most disarming defense against that...but when you're the one being ridiculed it's also the hardest to genuinely feel and produce.
Heartfelt buen camino...may you find better company!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2016, CP 2017, Jakobsweg Ulm-Constance 2017-2018, Via Jacobi 2018, (Via Gebennensis 2019)
The sense of not belonging is a horrible feeling. I am so sorry you have to experience that on Camino, where the opposite experience is usually the case. I want to believe you will soon find fellow pilgrims who will include you among them and that you find peace and beauty along the way... with or without other people.
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
This surprises me. If the ridicule is only a result of you being not catholic than the solution seems to be what others have said, get away from these people. The last four years I have been on caminos, I consider myself to be a, non practisizing, atheist and have never had negative remarks or experienced negative effects if the subject came up. You will certainly meet many other people with a more open mind.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
@bobotron801, you've already been given useful advice about how to cope with what you are feeling.

I agree with others that one's religion or faith is generally not an issue on the Camino Frances. Few people seem to care whether one is Catholic or not although I suspect that many Spanish people assume that one is indeed Catholic. What did you ask about the Palm Sunday service? Be aware that indeed many more Spanish pilgrims are on the way during Easter Week than in autumn when you walked before. Whether this is because of religious reasons or because of it being a good time to take time off from work I don't know. Most of them will be gone by next Monday.

Just be aware that events of Palm Sunday are the start of the story of the Passion, the core of Christian beliefs. Many walkers will be familiar with this background, whether they are practicing or non-practising Catholics or other Christians.
 

twh

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances May/June, 2018
Porto-Muxia-Finisterre Oct (2019)
Bobotron, sorry to hear that you are feeling like you don’t belong. That’s the last emotion one would expect to encounter during the Camino experience.

Feeling this way when you are expecting the typical love and acceptance emotions can be devastating. Davebugg went through this last fall when he encountered an outspoken individual in a group setting that rudely “expressed” his anti-american political sentiments to Dave.

I like the idea the others have proposed. Change your travel group by speeding up your pace for a few days or slowing down and then resuming your normal pace so you are free of this negative vibe around this particular group you are currently bumping into too frequently. And if religion along with language is the primary circumstance where you feel you are getting disconnected I think Kathar1na offers a very insightful explanation.

I had three relatively minor disappointments regarding people interactions along my Camino last year. I could write a couple of pages about each one but I’ll spare you. Somehow, by fate?...all 3 of these people at different times ended up sticking to me for 3 or 4 days after my initial negative encounter with them. They were repeatedly, like it was a plan from then on, in the same room, or the next bunk or across from me at a group dinner or in the same bar for lunch. The behaviors I disliked about them never changed but I started to question if they were dropped into my Camino experience for a reason. Ultimately my humanity softened and I found some things to like about each of them and then they disappeared. So I took it as a lesson or reminder I needed regarding judgment of others. It reminded me of the poem by Rumi – “The Guest House”.

So maybe the reaction you are feeling is a “gift” from them (see Rumi – Guest House) to help you figure something out about yourself? And maybe not. Maybe it's just about the composition of pilgrims on the camino at this time.

Good luck with the rest of your Camino. I’m sure there are dozens of wonderful people near by that you will soon connect with.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
It sounds like this attitude that you are finding may be because it's Easter week, which I imagine might bring more catholic pilgrims to the Camino.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 2019?
I'm Catholic and have walked with various Protestants, Jews, a Hindu, several agnostics and quite a few atheists on the Camino but have never come across any religious intolerance. In fact it surprises me how little faith is discussed (including with a RC Priest and a Presbyterian Minister) - like here the talk is mainly about the ways and means of walking the Camino, how to avoid blisters etc.
I do agree that if you feel uncomfortable within your present cohort you should maybe take a rest day or a short day and meet up with a different group.
Hoping things improve for you.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2016, CP 2017, Jakobsweg Ulm-Constance 2017-2018, Via Jacobi 2018, (Via Gebennensis 2019)
So maybe the reaction you are feeling is a “gift” from them (see Rumi – Guest House) to help you figure something out about yourself? And maybe not. Maybe it's just about the composition of pilgrims on the camino at this time.
A good piece of advice for all of us. An excellent poem. However, not an easy lesson. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
In addition to all the excellent advice above, I would suggest not wearing your religiosity, or lack of same, on your proverbial sleeve. When asked about your motivations for doing a Camino (most everyone is asked that, sometimes several times daily), replying with something like, "I am here for the wonder of it all...and I am having a wonderful time..." might be a good way to deflect what for you seems to be a sensitive issue.

Personally, I have used the statement that "I am doing it for all of the above reasons..." to great effect in the past as well. No one motivation is primary for me. That position helps to avoid religion becoming the point of focus in a Camino discussion.

Back in the day, I was raised to believe that, in polite society, one did not discuss sex, religion or politics. This advice has served me well when meeting new people, for more than 60 years. It may also apply to people one meets on Camino, at least until you know them and they know you much better.

It is fine to not be a religious person, per se. Spirituality, writ large, comes in all sorts of shades, shapes and 'packages.'

I recommend not making an issue of it when you speak with others. If they say they are doing a Camino for religious reasons, just say, gee that is great, and leave it at that.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and repeat as necessary. That is the prescription for a good Camino. Please do not let this situation get you down.

I hope this helps.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
I’m on my 3rd Camino right now, feeling a bit down. Maybe it was just a long hot day of walking. I myself am not Catholic and have my own reasons for being here. But over the last few weeks I’ve dealt with ridicule and off putting comments from other pilgrims. Possibly it’s my natural stance to feel defensive. Maybe it’s the language barriers. Starting to feel that I don’t belong here. This is far different from what I’ve experienced in the past.
Those who you feel have ridiculed you and tried to make you feel small are not Catholics either. They may think they are but they are not. To engage them in their hate is a fools errand.
On my very first camino, I slept in an Albergue where (If I remember correctly, was on the Meseta. I believe there was a communal meal and we ate downstairs and the sleeping area was upstairs). There was a room where in the back where a young priest held a meditation after dinner. We all sat in a circle and we all spoke in our own languages for a minute about who we were and said whatever we wanted to say at that moment about why we were on the Camino or how we were feeling in the moment.
The priest asked each of us about our spiritual or religious beliefs. When he got to me I told him I was Jewish. He smiled and said how wonderful it was to have a Jewish person here because as we all know Jesus was not a Christian, he was a Jew. He then said that he would say a prayer that Jesus would probably say because if Jesus was with us he would care little of a person's religious identification because he would be feeling for the love and generosity of our hearts. I was the first person in our small group that did not identify themselves a Christian, practicing, fallen or otherwise. One or two others spoke up as Atheists. The priest continued and said that the Camino is here to help fill our spiritual needs and not our religious needs. We are all welcome and any good soul walking is making the Camino richer. Someone else said something about a few really judgmental people she had met. He said that, of course just love them and hopefully the goodness of the Camino will enter their hearts too. We than all prayed or meditated while he said one lovely prayer in 3 or 4 languages. If someone knows which Albergue this was I would love to know.
That night really captures the heart, spirit and soul of why we walk.
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
Those who you feel have ridiculed you and tried to make you feel small are not Catholics either. They may think they are but they are not. To engage them in their hate is a fools errand.
On my very first camino, I slept in an Albergue where (If I remember correctly, was on the Meseta. I believe there was a communal meal and we ate downstairs and the sleeping area was upstairs). There was a room where in the back where a young priest held a meditation after dinner. We all sat in a circle and we all spoke in our own languages for a minute about who we were and said whatever we wanted to say at that moment about why we were on the Camino or how we were feeling in the moment.
The priest asked each of us about our spiritual or religious beliefs. When he got to me I told him I was Jewish. He smiled and said how wonderful it was to have a Jewish person here because as we all know Jesus was not a Christian, he was a Jew. He then said that he would say a prayer that Jesus would probably say because if Jesus was with us he would care little of a person's religious identification because he would be feeling for the love and generosity of our hearts. I was the first person in our small group that did not identify themselves a Christian, practicing, fallen or otherwise. One or two others spoke up as Atheists. The priest continued and said that the Camino is here to help fill our spiritual needs and not our religious needs. We are all welcome and any good soul walking is making the Camino richer. Someone else said something about a few really judgmental people she had met. He said that, of course just love them and hopefully the goodness of the Camino will enter their hearts too. We than all prayed or meditated while he said one lovely prayer in 3 or 4 languages. If someone knows which Albergue this was I would love to know.
That night really captures the heart, spirit and soul of why we walk.
Wonderful story. Sounds like San Jaun Bautista in Granon? Not on the Meseta though. Did you sleep on mats on the floor? If so it was probably Granon. If not I have no idea!

Davey
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
Wonderful story. Sounds like San Jaun Bautista in Granon? Not on the Meseta though. Did you sleep on mats on the floor? If so it was probably Granon. If not I have no idea!

Davey
I know that Albergue. I had heard of it and had heard how wonderful it was. I stopped there and they were fantastic. We went upstairs to the sleeping area and when I saw the mats I said whoops!!!! If I try to sleep on that mat I will need a chiropractor in the morning when I wake up! We laughed and I thanked them and was off! But everyone I have met who has stayed there loved it. Thanks anyway.
 

GraemeHall

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: St-Jean-PdP - Santiago dC - Muxía - Fisterra (Aug 2017 and March/April 2018)
I know that Albergue. I had heard of it and had heard how wonderful it was. I stopped there and they were fantastic. We went upstairs to the sleeping area and when I saw the mats I said whoops!!!! If I try to sleep on that mat I will need a chiropractor in the morning when I wake up! We laughed and I thanked them and was off! But everyone I have met who has stayed there loved it. Thanks anyway.
Perhaps it was the parochial albergue at Tosantos? I had a similar experience there...
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2019)
You've gotten great advice above but I'll share my experience. I (raised RC now Episcopalian) just did a short Camino (CF) with a Jewish atheist, arriving Palm Sunday; because I took quite ill I could not walk the first two days; I insisted she walk on and I would meet her each evening; she found not only a wonderful walk but also the "spirit" of the Camino and now plans to do another with her gentile non-believer husband. I asked what motivated her to do so and she said not only the wonderful walk but also the spirit, the ethos of the Camino such as the "Buen Caminos" she gave and got along the way. As others have said, I imagine the more rigorously devout will be walking this week, which may be playing out in good and not so good ways.
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
I'm obviously not Catholic and this is absolutely not the Camino I know. It's not the Camino you know either, @bobotron801 - you say this is really different.
So as Davey suggests, try dropping back a day to give yourself some space from those who are probably just a few 'bad apples.'

There are people in the world right now who have the impression that it is now OK to openly ridicule others who are different than they are. Kindness is the best and most disarming defense against that...but when you're the one being ridiculed it's also the hardest to genuinely feel and produce.
Heartfelt buen camino...may you find better company!
I don’t get it you a obviously not Catholic? I would never intrude into your believe system but I am wondering is there an obvious way to be anything. I like the saying your deeds follow you like a shadow.
But may I just say it is a pilgrimage to a catholic shrine on the most holy day on Easter in the church year.
So I think there are any miscommunication when we think we hear something.
I worked for a couple of years for chaplains, wonderful people. And once in awhile one of them started to try to bring me closer to Jesus 🤔 without knowing anything about me. So I told this wonderful earnest preacher. Don’t worry I am already saved I am catholic. While the priest next to me was grinning. I don’t push it onto others, but I expect a respectful behavior in a church with decorum towards me and whatever my beliefs are. What was that song

So if I managed to offend anybody not my intentions. Maybe we should get back to gear questions and where is the next waterhole.
 
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Ivan_Prada

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés-(septiembre 2018)
Portugués-(en planes 2021)
I’m on my 3rd Camino right now, feeling a bit down. Maybe it was just a long hot day of walking. I myself am not Catholic and have my own reasons for being here. But over the last few weeks I’ve dealt with ridicule and off putting comments from other pilgrims. Possibly it’s my natural stance to feel defensive. Maybe it’s the language barriers. Starting to feel that I don’t belong here. This is far different from what I’ve experienced in the past.
Hola Bobotron
I’m on my 3rd Camino right now, feeling a bit down. Maybe it was just a long hot day of walking. I myself am not Catholic and have my own reasons for being here. But over the last few weeks I’ve dealt with ridicule and off putting comments from other pilgrims. Possibly it’s my natural stance to feel defensive. Maybe it’s the language barriers. Starting to feel that I don’t belong here. This is far different from what I’ve experienced in the past.
Hola Bobotron:
Sorry to hear about your situation on the Camino. Everything has been said on the other posts. I’m a devout Catholic, but many of our friends are non-catholic. My wife and I walked our first Camino last September; upon our return, these friends were fascinated by our Camino experience.
They have seen a change on my person (I have Parkinson’s), this was the reason for my walk. I did it with the spirit of asking strength from The Lord to carry this cross specially my for wife.
So moved by the experience, that we are planning a return; this time with the company of our non-catholic friends.
Don’t take it so personal, most likely those that have said comments, call themselves “Catholic “ but are missing a basic principle: “CHARITY”. Keep doing YOUR Camino and enjoy it.
Hope you find whatever you seek on the Camino. Lots of blessings........

BUEN CAMINO ...... Ultreia.....
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Your situation has a familiar ring to my 3rd Camino. I found myself with a Camino "family" that I was not in sync with; there were several newbie know-it-alls, some pious blowhards and few holier than thou pilgrims on spiritual overload. I tried everything I could do to change my attitude and then took a rest day and never saw them again.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have had to delete one thread that waded too far away from the specific question asked. Please remember Rule 2, which bars discussions about religion. We give some leeway because of the religious nature of the camino, but will delete posts that cross the line into specific doctrinal religious discussions.
 

Cary

Member
Camino(s) past & future
del Norte/Primitivo May 2019
The behaviors I disliked about them never changed but I started to question if they were dropped into my Camino experience for a reason. Ultimately my humanity softened and I found some things to like about each of them and then they disappeared.
Love this experience. Seems like softening of our own humanity is a pretty special gift to receive from the Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
I think that you just had bad luck. I've walked with pilgrims of many religious persuasions over the years-- Jews who attended pilgrim masses regularly, priests who never entered churches, an Ethiopian Orthodox nurse from Washington who was walking for her late grandfather, an Orthodox priest who had served at the shrine in Lalibela, but was walking the Camino as the pilgrimage in Ethiopia was at that time unsafe for a single woman, but only twice in ten Caminos have I run into annoyingly "over-devout" RCs. I think that they were victims of wanting a Camino of unrealistic personal expectations-- usually I have found this phenomenon among the spiritual-not-religious variety, but in both of these cases, they were North Americans who perhaps thought it should be a continuation of Lourdes or Fatima. I was able to engage with the two Québécois, partly because I was the only French-speaker within their reach, but the two from Pennsylvania were hurt and pained by their dislocation.

We should try not to let others' expectations form or warp our own Caminos. Mercifully, it is easy to deal with: as individuals with their own ideas trod on, we can take a cafe con leche and admire them as they walk away to do so.
 

lizlane

Small Town Girl, Small Town World
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
In all fairness to the OP and his feelings, the Way of St. James is a Catholic pilgrimage route so you're bound to run into people exercising their religion. (Literally lol) I'm sorry you've encountered ridicule and negative comments. I'm not sure what being Catholic or not Catholic has to do with either. Being a jerk is not limited to only the religious or non-religious. Last time I checked Jerks, Inc. was an equal opportunity employer.

We are all children of God and we each have a right to be here. We each have the right to believe or not believe, to be on our search. My own search looks like a patchwork quilt. I won't go into details because it's apparently offensive to some nor will I describe my own discomfort I can feel when in the presence of unchecked zealots who think they have found the right way or the only way to God and want to shove it down my throat. I only know it makes me feel small somehow, and lacking, so I can imagine this is how you feel too. As a human being and a Catholic, this makes me sad that you have experienced this on your Camino.

I would encourage you to view this discomfort as an invitation to meditate on why this experience has affected you so personally. If it is a question of not attending mass because you're not a Catholic....All are welcome to attend mass regardless of religious or lack of religious background. I would think being on the Camino, pilgrim masses would be especially inclusive. Many people are drawn to the Camino and don't know why, the answers apparent sometimes only years later.

In the future when asked why you are walking, replying simply "My reasons are private" would be enough to end any discussion without providing details that might invoke ridicule or criticism, or trigger a need in die-hard believers to evangelize you if you are atheist.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
I would suggest not wearing your religiosity, or lack of same, on your proverbial sleeve.
Some of us can't avoid that, but hopefully we wear it lightly on the heart. :cool:
Maybe we should get back to gear questions and where is the next waterhole.
Well, this is an interesting sharing, no harm done...
 
Camino(s) past & future
somewhere between "not enough" and "way too many"
@bobotron801 -

Like some others above, I have to believe that you just fell in with a cohort of jackwagons. Open up some distance to get yourself some space.

Starting with my first Camino, and through my latest, I always pushed back on questioners on the whole "Why are you walking the Camino?" (I am guessing this could be a source of trouble but do not know for sure, obviously.)

"I am a very private person. I will not be answering that question nor turning it back upon you. Same goes with politics. Anything else is fair game until one of us loses interest in the conversation." (I'm not always cold except when this question is #1 from someone.)

Perhaps this is a personal failing of mine but I just find it a very rude introductory question. And I have found the prevalence of this imposition steadily increased during the last seven years.

My personal solution to minimize the problem is for my next Camino to be the VdlP in late winter....sometime.

B
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
My personal solution to minimize the problem is for my next Camino to be the VdlP in late winter....sometime.
That works. 20 days walking in January and February from Puerto de Bejar to Santiago on the VdlP. Total number of other pilgrims encountered was 5. Shared albergue accommodation on 3 nights out of the 20. Very little scope for argument there :)
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
Everyday I learn more jackwagons how cool is that. My favorite is wingnuts. But there are always emotional leeches, and whiners and crusaders and know it alls and know it better since dumb little me must be in need of some serious advice. They are only as important as I will give them a stage for their vanity. I deal in my non Camino life with dumb and dumber on a daylight base so leave me be. Smile and smile and then laugh and mostly about yourself.
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
Last Camino this winter. 1 fellow pilgrim. Downside closed Biergarten. But lost of talking to myself: Like in the middle of a snowstorm out of nothing; really really You and you great ideas. Walk the Camino to train for the Camino. It will be easy you know these woods ... so lost... yea yea great shells peoples they supposed to point towards Santiago not to heaven right away.... I am not a goat .. Mountain rescue where are you... ok now how do I cross this river I refuse to swim....... great short cut just add 6 km.... stupid you should have stayed on the track... Now what do I do. Nobody ask me a thing!
 
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J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
Back in the day, I was raised to believe that, in polite society, one did not discuss sex, religion or politics. This advice has served me well when meeting new people, for more than 60 years. It may also apply to people one meets on Camino, at least until you know them and they know you much better.
I agree with you that is the way I was raised also. I see society being less polite and very intolerant to others beliefs and practices. I have been yelled at and called names by people I don't even know because I am a follower of Jesus and they call me intolerant. I still avoid talking religion and politics unless I know the person.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
I’m on my 3rd Camino right now, feeling a bit down. Maybe it was just a long hot day of walking. I myself am not Catholic and have my own reasons for being here. But over the last few weeks I’ve dealt with ridicule and off putting comments from other pilgrims. Possibly it’s my natural stance to feel defensive. Maybe it’s the language barriers. Starting to feel that I don’t belong here. This is far different from what I’ve experienced in the past.
Hola @bobotron801 . I am what I suppose is best described as a non-practicing catholic and whilst I know the "routines" I am not really bothered by it. Might suggest that at the first instance "ignore" the question. As I understand it all pilgrims (religious or otherwise) are equal; we walk the same KMs, carry similar loads, get the same sunburn or blisters.
For practicing Catholics Easter and Holy Week can be a bit "in your face" to non-catholics which is most unfortunate. You are most welcome to enter ALL churches even during mass times, just don't interrupt the services and of course you can't take communion. Please continue and put a smile on your face. Buen Camino!!
 

Isobeljc

Still walking
Camino(s) past & future
Frances “2017”
Aragones “2018”
Portuguese “2018”
Well, I suppose wearing clerical garb or a robe / cassock, might be a giveaway....o_O

It is all good...
We met a Polish Priest at the wine fountain at 7.30 in the morning.
No common language, a brief encounter, a joint goal, vino tinto and never meeting again.
All this combined with a robe, a scallop shell and a small back pack.
How good is this 😃😃😃
 

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RuediG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Cammino di Assisi, Assisi-Rome (2019)
It's good to remember that you're on something that once was mostly a very Catholic pilgrimage route for those venerating a particular Catholic saint. But with its 300,000+ pilgrims in 2018, of which only 1/3 were there for mostly "religious" reasons, something has obviously changed.
Some people may think you're silly for doing this hike as a non-Catholic, but that ridicule says a lot more about them than it says about you. Press Ignore/Delete, and move on.
 

bobotron801

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Oct 2016, Oct-Nov 2017, April-May 2019, Oct-Dec 2019
Thank you everyone for the quality advice and support. I had dinner with an Irish woman woman opened up a similar encounter she’d had. Apparently we ran into the same pilgrim that day.

I’ve taken a rest day to create space, rain has started again on the Frances so days are going to be a bit slower.

Thanks again
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
Apparently we ran into the same pilgrim that day.
Ah, the proverbial bad apple...and the Irish peregrina was there to affirm the opposite. It's good you (and she) now have some space from this person.
Can you imagine living in that mind? On the Camino - a place as close to heaven on earth as any - and ridiculing others. Oof, compassion. They're not a 'happy camper.'
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) portugues(2013)San Salvador (2017)
Thank you everyone for the quality advice and support. I had dinner with an Irish woman woman opened up a similar encounter she’d had. Apparently we ran into the same pilgrim that day.

I’ve taken a rest day to create space, rain has started again on the Frances so days are going to be a bit slower.

Thanks again
Thanks for your follow-up post. In many cases, aggression comes out and lands on unsuspecting souls who have nothing to do with the source of the emotion in the aggressor. During my long life, I have seen that played out many times. I recall now a cartoon of a series of drawings where there is a man, his wife, his child, the dog, the boss. I think the sequence went like this: the boss gave out to the man, who gave out to the wife, who gave out to the child, and the child to the dog,...
 
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Francois de Meillon

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Part of (2018)
Primitivo (2019)
Finistere (2019)
I’m on my 3rd Camino right now, feeling a bit down. Maybe it was just a long hot day of walking. I myself am not Catholic and have my own reasons for being here. But over the last few weeks I’ve dealt with ridicule and off putting comments from other pilgrims. Possibly it’s my natural stance to feel defensive. Maybe it’s the language barriers. Starting to feel that I don’t belong here. This is far different from what I’ve experienced in the past.
If it is your perception then it is your truth. Forgive those who made you feel unwelcome and remind yourself of who you are in the Christ. Take a deep breath, rest, refocus and walk the path set before you.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way + voie de Tours + CF + Gulf of Biscay + English Channel)
I've read through the 42 comments. I said already that personal faith and religious affiliation, or lack thereof, doesn't seem to be an issue on the Camino Frances in my experience. We don't know what was actually being said that caused discomfort. One thing that does turn up on the Camino is the who's-a-pilgrim question. I've indulged in this discussion on the forum but steer clear of it in real life on the Camino 🙃.

I live in secular Europe. Personally, I've actually never encountered a religious (Christian) zealot. Jehovah witnesses have rung at the door occasionally but they are polite and don't insist. The only people who tried to engage me in conversation and could be called zealots were anti-religion full-stop. And people with strong anti-clerical / anti-church-as-an-institution feelings who, surprisingly, weren't Protestant heretics but people who grew up in predominantly Catholic church environments in Europe. I was sometimes taken aback by the strength of their feelings.

Before you reply: This is a de facto description and not an invitation to discuss the topics related to this situational description. I've just tried to do a bit of a readjustment of the picture drawn in many messages in this thread.
 
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Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
Bobotron, sorry to hear that you are feeling like you don’t belong. That’s the last emotion one would expect to encounter during the Camino experience.

Feeling this way when you are expecting the typical love and acceptance emotions can be devastating. Davebugg went through this last fall when he encountered an outspoken individual in a group setting that rudely “expressed” his anti-american political sentiments to Dave.

I like the idea the others have proposed. Change your travel group by speeding up your pace for a few days or slowing down and then resuming your normal pace so you are free of this negative vibe around this particular group you are currently bumping into too frequently. And if religion along with language is the primary circumstance where you feel you are getting disconnected I think Kathar1na offers a very insightful explanation.

I had three relatively minor disappointments regarding people interactions along my Camino last year. I could write a couple of pages about each one but I’ll spare you. Somehow, by fate?...all 3 of these people at different times ended up sticking to me for 3 or 4 days after my initial negative encounter with them. They were repeatedly, like it was a plan from then on, in the same room, or the next bunk or across from me at a group dinner or in the same bar for lunch. The behaviors I disliked about them never changed but I started to question if they were dropped into my Camino experience for a reason. Ultimately my humanity softened and I found some things to like about each of them and then they disappeared. So I took it as a lesson or reminder I needed regarding judgment of others. It reminded me of the poem by Rumi – “The Guest House”.

So maybe the reaction you are feeling is a “gift” from them (see Rumi – Guest House) to help you figure something out about yourself? And maybe not. Maybe it's just about the composition of pilgrims on the camino at this time.

Good luck with the rest of your Camino. I’m sure there are dozens of wonderful people near by that you will soon connect with.
This was also an important experience for me at my first camino. I met people who, at first sight, I did not like very much. In normal life I probably would choose to ignore them or avoid contact with them. As we walked the same pace, I kept meeting them and getting to know them better. Allthough the things that bothered me still were present, I saw other things that I liked about them, they became far more important. Some of these people I see still and I consider them to be friends. This experience reinforced the thought that it is best to look for positive aspects in people and situations.
 

Gabe_Way

Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'm starting CF from SPDP on May 5th, 2019
(Walking)
Thank you everyone for the quality advice and support. I had dinner with an Irish woman woman opened up a similar encounter she’d had. Apparently we ran into the same pilgrim that day.

I’ve taken a rest day to create space, rain has started again on the Frances so days are going to be a bit slower.

Thanks again
You were very kind and good to that guy, or lady. If that happened to me I would have probably left him/her speechless, to say the least. ;)

EDIT: With words!
 
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Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
Antonio 🥳 so true. I like people and they never fail to amaze me with their capacity for goodness.
 

GraemeHall

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: St-Jean-PdP - Santiago dC - Muxía - Fisterra (Aug 2017 and March/April 2018)
Thanks for your follow-up post. In many cases, aggression comes out and lands on unsuspecting souls who have nothing to do with the source of the emotion in the aggressor. During my long life, I have seen that played out many times. I recall now a cartoon of a series of drawings where there is a man, his wife, his child, the dog, the boss. I think the sequence went like this: the boss gave out to the man, who gave out to the wife, who gave out to the child, and the child to the dog,...
And then back up the chain? Lol
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
Grae so true once you find out that the most attacks are not directed at you, but is war fight by proxy you can step away very fast.
 

c0484

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
I’m on my 3rd Camino right now, feeling a bit down. Maybe it was just a long hot day of walking. I myself am not Catholic and have my own reasons for being here. But over the last few weeks I’ve dealt with ridicule and off putting comments from other pilgrims. Possibly it’s my natural stance to feel defensive. Maybe it’s the language barriers. Starting to feel that I don’t belong here. This is far different from what I’ve experienced in the past.
Whether you are Catholic or not is irrelevant. It only matters what is in your heart when you walk the Camino. If you want a religious experience, you can find it on the Camino if you are open to it. I have a new religious experience each time I walk the Camino. If that is not your thing, that does not matter, but you should know why you are walking it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
somewhere between "not enough" and "way too many"
@c0484 -

"...but you should know why you are walking it."

I do not believe (hope) that you mean that as literal as it reads.

My first time out, I had not the vaguest idea of why I was walking but was strongly compelled (called?) to do so. I believe that there are many who share this experience.

Subsequent walks were predicated on different "whys" at the outset but, by the time I finished, there was so many more and better reasons revealed.

YMMV

B
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino France, Camino del Norte, Camino de Madrid
I’m on my 3rd Camino right now, feeling a bit down. Maybe it was just a long hot day of walking. I myself am not Catholic and have my own reasons for being here. But over the last few weeks I’ve dealt with ridicule and off putting comments from other pilgrims. Possibly it’s my natural stance to feel defensive. Maybe it’s the language barriers. Starting to feel that I don’t belong here. This is far different from what I’ve experienced in the past.
I am very sorry for what you are going through. It must be very disappointing. However, aren't you doing it for yourself? I have learned over the years if my contentment is depends on what other people think of me or how they react to me, then I am allowing others to let me down and feel unhappy. Of course I desire to be accepted and loved but I am comfortable enough with myself albeit having countless shortcomings, I am happy on my own. I am sure you have many greatness and some failings as we all do. Please don't allow others make you feel sad or disappointed for they don't even know you. Hope you can raise your sprit up and enjoy the Camino. Only a few of us, considering how many people live on earth, are fortunate enough to do the Camino. How can we allow ourselves to be disappointed?
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/?/Invierno ('19)
I live in secular Europe. Personally, I've actually never encountered a religious (Christian) zealot
I have, but they were imports, not Europeans.;)
I was sometimes taken aback by the strength of their feelings.
Yeah. Ditto. Both versions of absolute rightness are pretty tiresome.
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
Let me quote a movie: “those people walk to find the answers While I try to find the appropriate question.” Or he “can I ask you why you walking here?” She:” sure .” And walks away with a smile. So if you need to borrow some wisdom.
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
Something funny, The night we slept with 16 trainee Catholic priests.

I walked from Geneva to Finisterre in 2015 and on this day got to the Casa Ricardo albergue in Campiello on the Primitivo. Me and my walking buddy Marika (young and very beautiful girl) found we were sharing a dorm with said 16 trainee priests. It was their first day (why start there I dunno, but we found out they were actually sent to do the camino). They were a mixed bunch of nationalities, mostly African.

They were utterly shocked! Comments heard were "she is wearing shorts, disgusting" (they were normal hiking shorts). "They are not married"! I explained that they were sleeping with her too. (Marika showed them a text to her parents that read "I am sleeping with sixteen priests"! They thought this really funny. They seemed unused to the real world in a way. What they were witnessing with us in this albergue was quite tame considering some of the things we see in albergues! They were very friendly though, they invited us for dinner. "So, it is your first day on camino" I asked. Yes they said. "Don't worry you will get used to albergues in a few days" we told them. They also drank a vast amounts of wine.

At around 4-5am one of them gonged a gong. A real golden gong with a little hammer thing. All of them got out of bed, huddled in a corner, and started chanting and praying. I thought it was unusual, but quite nice.

Met them a few days later, having a great time. I hope that their view of the world opened up somewhat, and they made it to Santiago ok.

I think they got 'sent on camino' to open their eyes to the world a little bit. I loved them to bits, so did Marika, they were lovely.

Davey
 
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Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
I know the 2nd Vaticanum has been awhile. We went for Pentecost with our youth group camping had church in the woods. Since our padre was almost 80 he could not come out allways. So we went in boots shorts an shirt to the village church. They gave us space but not for our dress code but we smelled.... Of woodfire? Neither our padre born in 1900 nor any other ever commented on our get up. They new better or they would have discussion on their hand.
 

Faribavaziri

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de portugese(aug2019)
I am sorry to hear that you had such an experience , we walked the Camino once before in 2007 and never were asked about our religion, we are non Christian.
We are planning to walk again this Summer and I hope we will not feel anything like what you did.
 

tangata hikoi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Pamploma (April/May 2014)
VDLP March 2019 Sanabres April 2019
Finisterre/Muxia April 2019
@c0484 -

"...but you should know why you are walking it."

I do not believe (hope) that you mean that as literal as it reads.

My first time out, I had not the vaguest idea of why I was walking but was strongly compelled (called?) to do so. I believe that there are many who share this experience.

Subsequent walks were predicated on different "whys" at the outset but, by the time I finished, there was so many more and better reasons revealed.

YMMV

B
Likewise, I feel strongly compelled too walk without fully understanding why and that's ok for me and I don't care what others think...it no one else business.
It was really interesting for me to be asked by the Hospiteliero at Fuenterroble on the VLDP 'why are you walking'. I had no answer and have been thinking about it ever since. I have appreciated the question although I did find it confronting at the time.
 

stevelm1

Recovering Perigrino
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sep-Oct 2015, I plan to walk the Camino Portuguese in Sep 2019.
When I walked the CF in 2015 I found that my conversations went better when I did not bring up that I am an atheist, but I never felt harassed. In fact, I was very pleasantly surprised to find that religion and one's belief or not were rare topics. I found the Camino to be a very open and accepting place, unlike my country, America.
 

Gaddong

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2018) CF SJPDP April 22, to May 27.
A year ago today I walked SJPDP to SDC... not once did anyone asked me if I was catholic nor did we discuss religion. Do some reflections and check your feeling inward. Love I a powerful thing start by loving yourself first... Buen Camino...
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Likewise, I feel strongly compelled too walk without fully understanding why and that's ok for me and I don't care what others think...it no one else business.
It was really interesting for me to be asked by the Hospiteliero at Fuenterroble on the VLDP 'why are you walking'. I had no answer and have been thinking about it ever since. I have appreciated the question although I did find it confronting at the time.
On my last 4 Camino "expeditions" I walked with International Brigades flag (from Spanish Civil War) patch on my castro cap and it was quite obvious that I'm rather the leftist politically than you know what. So people were intrigued by that and I was asked few times (even by Catholic priest, very nice and polite person) why then walking the Christian Camino. I answered with question if they prey and how they prey. You already know the answer: with my hands. And I answered that while being pagan I prey with my feet.

Many odd looks at first and a lot of laughing afterwards :)
 
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cbacino

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte - Primitivo (2018)
Via Francigena (2017)
Appalachian Trail (2016)
I’m on my 3rd Camino right now, feeling a bit down. Maybe it was just a long hot day of walking. I myself am not Catholic and have my own reasons for being here. But over the last few weeks I’ve dealt with ridicule and off putting comments from other pilgrims. Possibly it’s my natural stance to feel defensive. Maybe it’s the language barriers. Starting to feel that I don’t belong here. This is far different from what I’ve experienced in the past.
Who cares what other pilgrims think, especially judgmental ones?
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
First time I went to the Camino I was worried -honest- that in Roncesvalles I would have to approve some kind of religiosity test. Not really, although there is a line about "religion" in the registry form.
In parish albergues, the hospitalero invites you to go to Pilgrim's Mass. Some pilgrims go, others don't, and it is not a big issue. If somebody feel uneasy about this, well, there are lots of secular albergues.
In Carbajalas (León) I talked with the old hospitalero, who told me that the tradition of Catholic pilgrimage had become a touristy thing. He was obviously vexed about it, but all pilgrims were received the same, no questions.
My impression is that just a few pilgrims go to Mass. And the ones I have met, were discreet, not preaching at all, and they did not ask about other people's beliefs.
Religion is not a topic that comes usually in social talk, either. I have walked many days with other pilgrims before discovering their beliefs, for casual comments.
Now, if you are in the mood to express very openly and frequently your ideas about God (or its non existance) you can expect a controversy -or just awkward silences. it is up to you.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
First time I went to the Camino I was worried -honest- that in Roncesvalles I would have to approve some kind of religiosity test. Not really, although there is a line about "religion" in the registry form.
On my first Camino I was refused a credencial in SJPDP. The woman who issued them decided after speaking with me that I was not sufficiently religious or serious enough to be a genuine pilgrim and would not give me a credencial. She did say that the canons at Roncesvalles were less strict about it and probably would give me one when I got there. And so they did.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
On my first Camino I was refused a credencial in SJPDP. The woman who issued them decided after speaking with me that I was not sufficiently religious or serious enough to be a genuine pilgrim and would not give me a credencial. She did say that the canons at Roncesvalles were less strict about it and probably would give me one when I got there. And so they did.
Holy cow…! In what century was that?? :Oo
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
On my first Camino I was refused a credencial in SJPDP. The woman who issued them decided after speaking with me that I was not sufficiently religious or serious enough to be a genuine pilgrim and would not give me a credencial. She did say that the canons at Roncesvalles were less strict about it and probably would give me one when I got there. And so they did.
This should have been the legendary madame Débril.
And yes, she had an attitude...
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
This should have been the legendary madame Débril.
And yes, she had an attitude...
Yes - it was indeed Madame Débril. When I arrived in Santiago and asked for a Compostela in the cathedral I had another quite long religious interview: this time with a priest on the cathedral staff who asked me about my reasons for walking, my religious practice along the way, my personal understanding of what "pilgrimage" meant and the significance of Santiago for me. A very friendly but searching inquisition.
 

J Willhaus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
24 May- 14 July (2016)CF
Hospitalera, Zamora Dec 15-31, (2017), Hospitalera Grañón Dec 15-31 (2018)
I am wondering if there is a more religious emphasis due to the time of year? I know there are many special Easter activities in Spain and I get a lot of email ads wanting me to spend my Easter in various towns and cities in Spain from the Paradores, etc. Possibly this may pass after today is finished? I do wish you the best and hope you will find the way that is best for you even if that means returning home early this time.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
On my first Camino I was refused a credencial in SJPDP. The woman who issued them decided after speaking with me that I was not sufficiently religious or serious enough to be a genuine pilgrim and would not give me a credencial. She did say that the canons at Roncesvalles were less strict about it and probably would give me one when I got there. And so they did.
Obviously, fate was inspiring me to start my Camino in Roncesvalles at about the same time. I'm sure I would have been refused in SJPdP, too.
 

Sainttam

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (Sarria to Santiago, march 2017), Portuguese (Valenca to SDC September 2017).
I’m from a Protestant family although I’m not religious, 2 years ago for my 60th I walked from Sarria to SdC. I never felt out of things with the Pilgrims I met, I even walked part of the way with a Catholic Priest from the USA and had a good chat about football (he was surprised there are more football teams in Scotland other than Celtic and Rangers). In fact I enjoyed my time that much I returned that year and walked from Valenca in Portugal to SdC.
Last year I went to Italy and walked from Pietrasanta to Rome, the people I met on that walk were mainly either Protestant or Quakers, I met very few Catholic Pilgrims.
Heading back to Italy in August to do the Alpine section.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2016) Portuguese 2017
I’m on my 3rd Camino right now, feeling a bit down. Maybe it was just a long hot day of walking. I myself am not Catholic and have my own reasons for being here. But over the last few weeks I’ve dealt with ridicule and off putting comments from other pilgrims. Possibly it’s my natural stance to feel defensive. Maybe it’s the language barriers. Starting to feel that I don’t belong here. This is far different from what I’ve experienced in the past.
Have no idea why you feel like this. I have walked 3 Caminos and never once had this. I would say at least 75% of walkers are not catholic. Think this is your mind.
 

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