Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

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: Carole Foryst - Aug. 09, 2018 4:15 PM ET USA

    How about relying on the civil justice system?

  • Posted by: brownjudith2930 - Aug. 07, 2018 10:53 PM ET USA


  • Posted by: [email protected] - Aug. 07, 2018 10:32 PM ET USA

    The Bishop of Rome has had many opportunities to act and h was slow to move. What makes us believe this Pope would act for good of the Church and clean up this mess. There are many in Vatican that support this criminal behavior. They must be known to him.

  • Posted by: jan02 - Aug. 07, 2018 8:42 PM ET USA

    @Frodo1945- Pope Francis sending Archbishop Scicluna (or someone like him) sounds like a good idea to me. We pray to the Lord for His Holy Will to be done in all things.

  • Posted by: shrink - Aug. 07, 2018 6:47 PM ET USA

    The independent commission has always existed, in theory. It is vested in every priest, bishop, and pope who knows who, what, when, where and how--or any combination thereof. Those who know do not have the courage to act honorably, that is independently--this has been the problem all along. The perps are disgraceful, and those in the know lack the courage to call them out. The carnage to the faithful will continue until the whole house of cards finishes collapsing.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Aug. 07, 2018 4:40 PM ET USA

    The Bishop of Rome should send Archbishop Scicluna here. Give him a hotline phone number. Tell the bishops that anyone who will not cooperate with Scicluna, or who Scicluna thinks is stonewalling him, should send in their resignation, immediately. Scicluna outed Maciel and the Chilian bishops. He is the only one in the church who has credibility to do an investigation.

  • 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.