Amy Welborn is mightily ticked off that I dared to quote the Catechism about Terri Schiavo. Since I am now in her mind not a Catholic, how can I refer to such a text? One of her Catholic readers goes even further: "Reading Andrew Sullivan making arguments from the catechism is like hearing Adolf Hitler give an exegesis on a passage from the Talmud." Now that's the voice of Christian dialogue.
Mark Shea, a man who also claims to represent Catholicism in its orthodox form, emotes:
T'aint complicated. Everything--I mean *everything*--in Andrew's world is ordered toward the defense, protection and promotion of One Little Thing. This was just one more opportunity to take a swipe at the thing that poses the biggest threat to that. His task here is not to teach Catholic ethics, but to obfuscate, confuse, blur and denigrate. A day or two ago he was trying to somehow construe the defense of Terri's life in support of gay marriage. It's all about l'il willie for Andrew.
That last quote is a wonderful insight into the minds of the Ratzingerites. The legal right of a husband to determine the future of his incapacitated wife, and the difficult balance between keeping someone alive who is in a vegetative state for decades and letting them die with dignity: this is all really about my penis. Puh-lease. Again, I'd give the benefit of the doubt to keeping Schiavo alive. But the extremism and absolutism of her advocates is unnerving. All I was trying to do by quoting the Catechism is to show that even under Ratzinger, there is an understanding of a balance here. It isn't life-at-all-costs, which is how some of these people are sounding. I also find it odd that Welborn seems to believe that someone who does not subscribe to Cardinal Ratzinger's sexual ethics (i.e. a huge majority of American Catholics) is thereby ruled inadmissable in any debate about Catholic ethics on life and death. Here's how she puts it:
But really, if you reject the whole of the Church's teaching on sexuality (and he does - remember his defenses of Arnold Schwarzenegger's past sexual outrages?) - don't, and I mean DON'T come at me quoting the Catechism. Just don't.
That's how Ratzinger sees it, of course. He is the sole guardian of truth; debate is pointless; all that is required is obedience; and those who are disobedient are barred from even speaking in the Catholic conversation. But to see this rigidity echoed among some lay-people shows the extent to which anti-intellectualism truly has taken hold. (For the record, I did not defend Schwarzenegger's alleged sexual gropings. I called them gross and wrong. I merely defended his consensual past sex life and opposed the campaign to use his sexual past to prevent his election.)
Where to start?
First, Andrew, where have I ever said that you are "no longer a Catholic?" Cite one sentence from anything I've written that says *I* don't consider you a Catholic. I may have discussed *your* declaration that you are no longer a Catholic, but I indeed spent a good deal of time, much to the consternation of my readers, in August, reflecting on your situation in what I hoped was the most generous light, trying to utilize your situation as a means for reflecting on the problems many of us have with various aspects of Church teaching, and guiding discussions here and at my old blog about what it means to be Catholic. And in addition, you will find nothing in my own words but hope that you would have found a way to stay, if your conscience in any way allowed you.
So, I think you should retract that statement. It's not true. It's a lie.
What I did say is that you've rejected the Church's teaching on sexuality. Is than untrue? Is that inaccurate?
And, one more thing before I take my kid to the sitters so I can work on my manuscript - what the HELL is a "Ratzingerite?" Define it. Cite any moment in anything I've written when I have even mentioned Ratzinger, except the time when he slapped that reporter on the wrist. What does that mean? You have a fine, incisive mind - use it on this issue, and tell us how the defense of life is, as you seem to imply, a quirk of the contemporary pontificate, and totally out of synch with the rest of Church tradition. That's what grouping a position like mine under the monikker of the head of the Congregation of the Defense of the Faith or whatever it is implies. How is that so? How is what the position in defense of life an anomoly?
And further, I am enraged that Andrew Sullivan in his widely read blog implies and characterizes me as a person closed to debate. If he even ever read this blog for five minutes, he would see that most of my job is not opining but hosting debates, and giving a place for people to disagree with me to sound off, much to the consternation of some readers. I have taken heat for my willingness to entertain debate and reflection on knotty questions of sexuality, including artificial contraception and homosexuality, as well as on the Iraq war. It is simply unfair.
Further, if he had read this blog he would know that the distinctions about end-of-life care that he seems to think he is the only person who discerns have been brought out and teased apart here, and repeatedly stated by me. The point is that in THIS CASE, there are questions. NO ONE who supports feeding Terri Schiavo adheres to physical life at all costs, least of all me. And if Andrew Sullivan had actually taken the time to read everything I've written on this situation for the past month, and followed the debates in the comments sections, he would know this.
But I guess that's just too hard.
But the questions remain:
When did I declare Andrew Sullivan not a Catholic?
When did I declare myself a Ratzingerite?
What the hell is a Ratzingerite anyway?