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Does the New York Times now oppose dissent from Church teaching?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Oct 16, 2012

In a New York Times op-ed, Michael Peppard, a Fordham theology professor, strains to make the argument that Paul Ryan dissents from Catholic teaching on abortion. Ryan, he observes, has promised “to oppose abortion, with the exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother.” But the Catholic Church opposes direct abortion in all cases. Therefore, Peppard concludes, Ryan “has joined the ranks of dissenting Catholic politicians.” Peppard even suggests that Ryan might properly be denied Communion because of his public dissent.

It’s a reach. Ryan is not promoting legal abortion, nor is he asking taxpayers to subsidize the slaughter. He is making a pragmatic compromise, recognizing that the American public is not prepared (and his running-mate is not prepared) to approve an across-the-board ban on abortion. He is neither defying nor misrepresenting what the Church teaches.

But Peppard’s essay is remarkable for another reason as well. The headline reads: “Paul Ryan, Catholic Dissident.” Am I mistaken, or is this the first time the New York Times has labeled someone as a Catholic dissident—and not applauded the dissent?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Oct. 18, 2012 3:15 PM ET USA

    Paul Ryan clearly labelled this policy as the policy of the "Romney administration," not his own. I was not happy with this, but a running mate simply does not set administration policy. It beats the devil out of the Democrat alternative.