To Change the Church


There are roughly 1.28 billion Roman Catholics in the world. Of those, some probably do not know their Church says getting divorced and remarried without annulment counts as adultery. (As such, remarried Catholics are ineligible to receive the Eucharist during Mass.) Many more likely are aware of the teaching but quietly choose to ignore it. Of those, some are priests and bishops, who sometimes make "pastoral exceptions" for members of their flocks by allowing them to take Communion despite the prohibition.

What's the harm, then, in acknowledging what's already happening, and perhaps opening up the sacrament more formally? To Change the Church, a new book by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, suggests Pope Francis wants to do just that, but argues that Catholics who wish to see the Church's credibility preserved should fiercely oppose such a move. After all, the Vatican is not supposed to be able to reverse itself on core doctrine.

But the desire for an unchanging Church in a rapidly changing age is not unique to Douthat. Catholicism is in fact growing fastest in those parts of the world most attached to the conservative position. Religion, it seems, can be a place where people seek refuge from cultural dynamism.

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  1. Well that’s all OK by me!

    I did, however, want for y’all to stop worrying about how many angels can dance on the head of a standard-size pin. I have mathematical proof, but will save you from the details.

    It turns out to be 42,042,042,042,042!!! I wonder what Douglas Adams would say to that?

  2. Catholics who wish to see the Church’s credibility preserved

    The institution that facilitated and concealed systematic, longstanding sexual abuse of children?

    The institution that did so to preserve its assets and reputation?

    The institution whose ostensible adults believe (or at least claim to believe) fairy tales are true/

    The institution that clings to backwardness and rejects reason, modernity, and science?

    The institution that lives ostentatiously while claiming to care for the poor and underprivileged?

    People are worried about ‘preserving the credibility’ of that institution?

    Choose reason. Every time. Be an adult.

    Or, at least, try.

    1. Rev, since you use the title of a paid purveyor of fairy tales, I’m curious about what actual doctrines and actions of the Catholic Church you mean by “clings to backwardness and rejects reason, modernity, and science”?

      It came around to accepting astronomy and physics several centuries ago, although a little late for Galileo. It accepts evolution. In most matters of science, it’s ahead of nearly any Protestant church other than Unitarian-Universalism, which lacks any dogma and most Christians wouldn’t agree it is a Christian church. (Disclosure: I’m an atheist raised UU.)

      The one thing I can see about the Catholic Church that rejects reason, modernity, and science is the birth control ban, but that’s minor compared to the belief in a sky fairy and a two-millenia old compendium of fairy tales, which Catholics share with all Christians. It also rejects modernity in insisting on male and (usually) celibate priests – but it is obviously true that changing that would change the social dynamics inside the church, so that just means that Catholics value their traditions more than fairness. (Which seems to me to be true of any Christian who holds that I’ll go to Hell for asking for actual evidence before believing.)

  3. More Catholic Church credibility.

    Choose reason. Every time. Especially over sacred ignorance and dogmatic intolerance.

    Most especially if you are older than 12 or so. By then childhood indoctrination fades as an excuse for backwardness, gullibility, ignorance, bigotry, and superstition.

    By ostensible adulthood it is no excuse. Not one time. Not in any way.

    Choose reason.

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