E.J. Dionne Jr. on why he’s not leaving the Catholic Church

In March, the Freedom From Religion Foundation ran a full page ad urging Catholics to leave their church. Now, liberal columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. has a column up explaining why he’s staying (HT: Balloon Juice). Here’s the key paragraph:

I’m sorry to inform the FFRF that I am declining its invitation to quit. It may not see the Gospel as a liberating document, but I do,

Wait, stop right there! Irrelevance! There are, uh, multiple organizations in the world that hold the Gospels (they’re more than one document, by the way) in high esteem. If this were Dionne’s only reason for staying Catholic, it would be no reason at all, because it’s just as much a reason to leave the Catholic Church and go become a nice Episcopalian or something. But that’s not all!:

and I can’t ignore the good done in the name of Christ by the sisters, priests, brothers and lay people who have devoted their lives to the poor and the marginalized.

Slightly better, but still, so what? There are lots of other people who have done good in the name of Christ without belonging to an organization whose leaders think it’s important to campaign politically against birth control. Not to mention engaging in a massive c0ver-up of child rape. Would Dionne keep his membership in any other organization whose leaders acted that way, regardless of what good people lower-down the hierarchy were doing?

  • http://iamaperture.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger

    I can’t ignore the good done in the name of Christ by the sisters, priests, brothers and lay people who have devoted their lives to the poor and the marginalized.


    I’m sure in Nazi Germany there were some good people who still did good things.

    That, however, is not justification for staying a Nazi.


  • carovee

    Wow, that’s a fairly tepid reason for being Catholic. I think, though, that Dionne is in the position I was in. Namely, catholicism was so ingrained that once I could no longer believe in the Catholic church I couldn’t believe in any church. I chose to let it all go and become atheist. Perhaps someday Dionne will do the same rather than support an increasingly amoral organization.

    • Simone

      Maybe you mean an increasingly “immoral” organization.

      • No Light

        Someone (yes, I mean you) needs to check her dictionary before succumbing to the urge to be a sneering pedant.

        Looked up ‘amoral’ yet? Hope it’s taught you a little lesson about splashing your sticky smugness around!

        • carovee

          No. I mean amoral. As in no morals. As in the Church only acts in ways to strengthen and defend itself. Sometimes that means doing something useful. Often it doesn’t. So why don’t YOU go read a dictionary before dumping on somebody else, jerk.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    What is it that differentiates the Holy Roman Catholic Church from other Christian churches?
    Most protestants believe that every person should have direct access to the Word of God as expressed in the Bible, and interpret it for himself. The Holy Roman Catholic Church believes that adherents should accept guidance both from scriptures and from the church hierarchy.
    The Holy Roman Catholic Church believes that Jesus H. Christ passed church leadership to St. Peter, the first Bishop of Rome (Matt 16), and gave him the eyebrow-raising power to determine the Law of Heaven:

    [18] And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
    [19] And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

    Moreover, the Holy Roman Catholic Church believes that this primacy in matters of faith and morals descended from St. Peter to subsequent Bishops of Rome, aka the popes. Disagreements over this led to schisms with other Christian organizations, notably the Orthodox churches.
    If Dionne is not willing to accept the primacy of the papacy in matters of faith and morals, it is hard to see how he could still consider himself to be a member of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

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