Anne Rice Explains Why She Left The Church

In interviews, Anne Rice has expanded on what led her to "quit" the Catholic Church after her very public return to religion.

While Rice has not been shy about her views, in her interview with ABC she made her reasons for leaving the church explicit. She also limits her criticisms — although reading between the lines, they have larger application — to the Catholic Church she left, and specifically, her own parish. As she says,

I think there were several last straws. The pope going to Africa and saying that condoms were not a good idea in the fight against AIDS. I found that outrageous, embarrassing, humiliating, frightening. The bishop of Phoenix, Ariz., Thomas Olmsted, publicly condemning a nun Sister Margaret McBride because she OK'd a life-saving abortion for a dying mother in a Catholic hospital...The fact that my church, which I had supported over the years as — you know, private — how shall I put it — I know. I supported it. Let's say that. I put my money where my mouth was. And that church then spent millions to come in to the state of California and deprive gay citizens of their civil rights to same-sex marriage? That was shocking. That was humiliating. That was the last straw. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles paying $660 million to the victims of clergy abuse? What does that say about organized religion? And finally, the pressure built up, the toxic anger built up, the confusion built up and I thought, 'I have to get out this. I want God to be the center of my life and somehow I'm in bed with the devil.'

In answer to whether she will miss Catholicism, Rice addresses that too:

I will probably miss the ritual, the liturgy, going to Mass, going to holy communion, but I really couldn't go anymore...I was too angry. I was too confused. That clergy abuse scandal, the defensiveness of Catholics about that scandal, their anger at not wanting to hear about it, not wanting to know what had happened with priests abusing people sexually and then being transferred to parish — from parish to parish, I mean all of that was too much. I was — I was sitting in church in a beautiful environment with beautiful music wanting to pray and I was too angry and too confused to be there. I had to leave. It was coming between me and God to be in that church. And the church should be the place that helps you get close to God.

Even at the time of her re-commitment to Catholicism, Rice was forthright about her support for the gay community, a cause she embraced even prior to the time her son, Christopher, became a gay activist. As is clear from this video, made around the time Christ the Lord was released, at that time she felt - or at any rate hopes - that she had found a like-minded sanctuary in her parish. But however striking the contrast between that serene commitment and today's disillusionment, there's one thing about which we hope Rice's views haven't changed. Asked whom she'd considered for a possible adaptation of her "Christ" series, she replied, "I think Johnny Depp would be absolutely fantastic in the role of Jesus Christ." Amen.

Anne Rice Explains Why She Left The Church

Anne Rice: Best-Selling Novelist Explains Catholic Church Exit [ABC]
[A full interview will air tonight at 6:30 p.m. and on "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET]