We have $161,839 to go in our Fall Campaign. Every penny is used to strengthen the Church. See details!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Defectors in place

By Fr. Paul Mankowski, S.J. (articles ) | Aug 01, 2003

Andrew Sullivan posts two e-mails from gay Catholics announcing their decisions to leave the Church in response to the Vatican's document contra same-sex marriages, and then adds his own hesitations.

I feel my own conscience getting closer and closer to making the same decision. It tears me apart to see no prospect of the Catholic Church ending its war on gay people and their dignity in my lifetime.

I don't think most commentators understand the true significance of these declarations. These men are subversives -- disappointed subversives, at the moment, but subversives all the same. Note that the Holy See's document added no new obligation, pronounced no new censure, taught no doctrine that wasn't universal and immemorial in the Church. Sullivan's pique -- and the despondency of his fellow gay partisans -- is a reaction to the Holy See's standing pat.

This means that the Andrew Sullivans in our midst, though they identify themselves as Catholics, are conditional rather than unconditional Catholics: they persist in their membership, but with the understanding that the Church will be a different Church in the future. And if the Church will reverse her teaching in future, the Church must be wrong now. And if a man believes the Church is wrong now, he can't possibly mean the same thing I mean when he professes her to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.

The Andrew Sullivans are often incensed when we point out their bad faith. But to claim they are in bad faith is not some moralising pronouncement on the state of their inner life, it's a simple logical entailment of their own assertions. You can't consistently say (with twenty centuries of martyrs) that God protects the Catholic Church from all error in her solemn teaching while urging her to undo that teaching. In this respect the Sullivans are no different from self-identified Catholics who believe the Church will eventually permit contraception or remarriage or women priests.

Yet they ask for tolerance by fellow Catholics; they ask for inclusion. It's impossible. We can't die in the same Church -- not because our hearts aren't big enough or our imaginations are too limited, but because an assertion and its contrary cannot both be true. The orthodox bear with the Andrew Sullivans because (and only because) we hope that they will eventually have a change of heart and embrace the Church's teaching. The Andrew Sullivans put up with the orthodox because (and only because) they hope the orthodox will abandon their orthodoxy.

We can't both be right. We can't both (conscientiously) be in good faith.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($161,839 to go):
$200,000.00 $38,160.72
81% 19%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Aug. 02, 2003 5:15 PM ET USA

    It seems to me that, once these "quitters" decided to choose such a good chance of AIDS rather than eternal bliss, they had ALREADY left the Church ! Let us pray for their repentance. Otherwise, their "doom is sure."

  • Posted by: - Aug. 01, 2003 6:15 PM ET USA

    Many people decide to "leave the Church" because they cannot accept some or all Church teachings. That is their decision. The Church cannot change to accommodate the beliefs and/or practices of each and every member.

Fall Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

The Synod Continues 11 hours ago
Why Pope Francis cannot win on sexual abuse 12 hours ago
A secret plot to control the Synod? No; it's not secret at all. October 8
What about Catholic affirmation for those in false marriages? October 8
Free eBook: Pope Francis' Catechesis on the Family October 7

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
In Cuba, Pope emphasizes service to the vulnerable, praises thaw in US-Cuban relations CWN - September 21
Pope challenges America in speech to US Congress CWN - September 24
As Synod opens, Pope calls on Church to defend ‘unity and indissolubility’ of marriage bond CWN - October 5