ANDREW SULLIVAN CONT’D. He posted something on March 21, which I now can’t find in his archives (about a week is missing–if anyone can find it I’d be grateful). Here’s my response. Here’s him today. (If the links don’t work, go to and scroll down.) Here’s what I sent him in response:

First email: 1) Thanks very much for the kind words and the response. (And the link.)

2) I wasn’t claiming that your arguments against Church teachings were based in emotion–sorry if that was unclear. I was claiming that the reasons you stay in the Church seem, from your writing, to be primarily emotional. Which doesn’t make them bad! Much of Church life is designed to use the emotions to draw people closer to God (the beauty of the liturgy, for example). But my point was actually coming at your arguments from the other side: Why stay in the Catholic Church? (Not that I want you to leave, of course; but I’ve read all three of your books now and still don’t get it.)

3) I won’t take on your arguments–no doubt you’ve read a great deal about this already–except to say a few words on the issue of contraception. This was one of the things I really didn’t understand, and took issue with, when I entered the Church. I was willing to submit to the Church’s authority to teach, but I didn’t understand it, and didn’t like it. The more I looked into it, though, the more I came to understand the Church’s position; and I’m glad, now, that I didn’t let a lack of intellectual understanding on my

part keep me from obeying (uh, not that it came up, since I’m not married, so I guess I mean “not dissenting” rather than “obeying”). Two things that helped me with that intellectual journey were the section on natural family planning in Karol Wojtyla’s (pre-pope) Love and Responsibility, and the issue on contraception of the Catholic University lay magazine Eutopia.

This experience of intellectual change helped convince me that it’s unrealistic and hubristic to expect that people should accept only those moral teachings of the Church that they fully understand. Basically, the Church knows more than us. Why not take advantage of

that? This obviously doesn’t mean, Cease intellectual exploration!–I didn’t and won’t. It means, Don’t reject because you don’t understand.

4) Two quick points: There are more married priests in the world than you acknowledge. Eastern Rite priests can also marry, and ex-Lutheran pastors can become priests even if they are married.

And the Church doesn’t take baby-making as the sole criterion of morality. IVF makes babies; cloning makes babies. Rape makes babies. The Church uses the standards you propose–but also the standards you disagree with.

I hope my position is clear(er) now. Thanks again, very much.

Yours sincerely,

Eve Tushnet

Second email: OK, so I re-read your posts, and I think I misunderstood your points about why your position is Catholic. So I guess all I can say is, If I say Church teachings A through E imply F, and everyone from St. Paul to John XXIII and onward says Church teachings A through E imply and require not-F, I start doubting my judgment, not theirs.

Put it this way: Are your arguments Catholic, or Protestant? (=within Christianity, but not Catholicism.)

But I apologize for the initial misreading. Haven’t had coffee yet.



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