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Jason Holliston
Wednesday, April 20, 2005  
Andrew Sullivan Freaks Out; Professor Bainbridge Slaps Him Silly

Immediately after the announcement of Cardinal Ratzinger's election to the Papal throne, Andrew Sullivan freaked out in a big way:

And so the Catholic church accelerates its turn toward authoritarianism, hostility to modernity, assertion of papal supremacy and quashing of internal debate and dissent. We are back to the nineteenth century.

Professor Bainbridge then, in much better form that I would have, put him back in his place:

Granted, Ratzinger is no fan of extending American-style democracy to the inner workings of the Catholic Church or incorporating American-style moral relativism into the teachings of the Church. Yet, in the political sphere, the new Pope demonstrably recognizes that there is legitimate room for disagreement on how one operationalizes all but the most basic Church teachings, such as the gospel of life, and that even there Catholics may in appropriate instances even vote for politicians who do not share the Church's view on that central tenet.

The key in the good Professor's statement above is this: "...all but the most basic Church teachings...". Exactly, and Mr. Sullivan underlines this point with his most recent post:

In the last forty years or so, the Church has officially revoked its previous anti-Semitism, it has changed the very structure and vernacular of the mass, it has doubled the number of saints in heaven, it has shifted its position on religious and political liberty, it has apologized for the Inquisition, it has declared that homosexuality is innate and without sin as a condition, it has ordained married priests, it has innovated a new policy against all forms of artificial birth control, and dramatically strengthened its teachings against the death penalty.

In his examples of how the Church has changed, there's nothing that shifts any of the Church's fundamental doctrinal teachings. These unchangeable tenants reach back almost 2000 years, regardless of what the "reformers" say. Not to mention, almost each of the above examples are much too short, and require more background to fully understand why the Church altered itself concerning them.

In short, Mr. Sullivan, and any other Catholic anxiously awaiting the Church to start ordaining women, marrying homosexual couples in Church, or officially recognizing divorce will die disappointed.

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