On the elevation of the new Pope, we’ve seen a lot of sulking about the Catholic Church’s inexplicable reluctance to get itself properly aligned with the Left’s social-issues agenda.
It is, as Dennis Mangan points out here, perfectly understandable for socially ‘progressive’ sorts to consider the Church a political opponent, and to seek to reduce its influence in the nation’s affairs. But it’s a bit much to expect a 2000-year-old institution, whose mission has been for those two millennia to assist the salvation of souls by interpreting the moral will of God, suddenly to rewrite its core doctrines in order to bring itself into doxological alignment with the editorial staff of the New Yorker. (You might say it’s downright Ptolemaic; after all, we already know that the New Yorker considers itself to exist at the center of the Universe. At the very least, it’s certainly not very catholic.)
All this hoydenish self-centeredness prompted tart responses from James Taranto and Pat Buchanan (who are, respectively, lapsed and practicing Catholics). Here are some key excerpts.
Catholicism has evolved over 2,000 years and, whatever its adversities and shortcomings, has proved sustainable over that period. If you judge it by the standard of contemporary feminism and sexual liberationism, of course it will seem lacking. But these fashionable dogmas have yet to prove their worth, either for understanding human nature or sustaining a society over the long term. Their adherents fancy themselves sophisticated, but in fact they frequently are too simple-minded–or perhaps fearful–even to consider a different way of looking at the world.
To be Catholic is to be orthodox.
Indeed, let us presume the impossible — that the Church should suddenly allow the ordination of woman, and decree that abortions in the first month of pregnancy are now licit, and that homosexual unions, if for life, will henceforth be recognized and blessed.
This would require the Church to admit that for 2,000 years it had been in error on matters of faith and morals, and hence is not infallible. But if the Church could have been so wrong for so long, while the world was right, and many had suffered for centuries because the Church erred, what argument would be left for remaining Catholic?
If the Church were to admit it had been wrong since the time of Christ about how men must live their lives to attain eternal life, why should Catholics obey the commandments of such a fallible and erring Church? Why not follow our separated brethren of the Protestant faiths, and choose what doctrines we wish to believe and what commandments we wish to obey?
It’s disappointing that anyone has to explain all this. We’re all free, if we disagree with Catholic doctrine, not to be Catholics. But lambasting the Catholic Church for sticking to traditional principles is like criticizing the American Philatelic Society for being so preoccupied with stamps.