On Remaining Catholic, Ctd

Dreher is confused:

I genuinely don't understand [Andrew Sullivan's] position. He doesn't believe the Catholic Church teaches truth, except insofar as it coincides with what he believes. Staying inside the Catholic Church makes him truly miserable. So why stay? If he wants liturgy, smells, bells, and a complete blessing on the way he chooses to live his life, there's the Episcopal Church. I actually did believe in Catholicism, but for my own reasons was so tormented by staying that I lost my faith ... and so I left. I left in tears and heartbreak, but I left. Truly, it's a mystery to me why any free man would stay in a church in which he did not believe, and that made him so unhappy.

So Rod left the church even though he did believe. Make what you will of that. Perhaps Rod's social or aesthetic comfort trumped his actual beliefs. We all have to follow our own path, and, unlike Rod, I am not going to peer into another's soul and make that decision for him. It is between him and his conscience.

But I want to rebut Rod's assertion that I  do not "believe the Catholic Church teaches truth, except insofar as it coincides with what he believes." This is a slur, the kind of slur used by people more interested in smearing another than listening to him.

I can recite the Creed with as clear a conscience as any of my fellow Catholics. I do believe that the Catholic church teaches truth in the single unifying credo I can recite at every mass. I do believe in the message of the Gospels as deeply as I believe in anything. I do believe in the Catholic communion as the core guardian of those Gospels and of the sacraments that keep Jesus in our tangible, physical midst. And I do believe in the task of spreading God's love as the core mission of a Catholic today.

What I do not believe in are the Church's contemporary social and reactionary political positions, and its cultural hostility to women and gays, and its profound ethical corruption and sexual hypocrisy, all of which have led to astonishing scandal and evil. I do not believe that this evil should be tolerated or enabled by those who love it. And I do not believe that tackling this evil is best accomplished by leaving, as Rod, for reasons that I deeply respect, has.

In this, I try imperfectly and unworthily to follow in the wake of countless Catholics across the centuries and millennia who refused to bow down to these crass calls for total obedience from a corrupt and blinkered hierarchy when their conscience tells them it is wrong. And the idea that the Catholic church does not accept this role for the laity is belied by the Second Council - the Council Benedict is doing his utmost to downgrade.

Sometimes, the gate is very straight - pun deeply intended. And some of us decide we would rather be constricted and conflicted in this narrow passage than avoid this spiritual challenge altogether. Because we still believe. And because this church is also ours.