In an editorial published in the March 5 edition of The Boston Globe, Joan Vennochi writes, "Church doctrine states that allowing children to be adopted by same-sex couples 'would actually mean doing violence to these children.' Gay adoptions are 'gravely immoral.' If you agree with those principles, you are, according to the Vatican, a Catholic in good standing. If you don't, you're not. Liberals raised as Catholics refuse to accept this reality. We think we can be pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-gay adoption, and in favor of married and female priests and can still call ourselves Catholic. The people who make the rules say we don't meet the criteria. Every pronouncement from Pope Benedict XVI draws another line between official church doctrine and liberal ideology. When do liberals choose one side or the other?"
But what is it that makes Ms. Vennochi believe that liberals who think they can be "pro-choice," "pro-gay marriage," "pro-gay adoption," and "in favor of married and female priests" have not already left the Church? Haven't they already done so? According to the teaching of Vatican II, such people have already abandoned the Church in their hearts:
"They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of the visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a 'bodily' manner and not 'in his heart." (Lumen Gentium, No. 14).
The above paragraph could not be more clear. Unless you're Joan Vennochi or one of the liberals she is writing about. For such people, the teachings of Vatican II and "every pronouncement from Pope Benedict XVI" (as well as all the other Popes) are simply "rules" made by "conservative Catholics" who "hold the power."
I have always found it amazing that so-called "liberal Catholics" (jumbo shrimp anyone?) refer to themselves as "Vatican II Catholics" and constantly speak of the "spirit of Vatican II" while remaining ignorant of what the Council actually had to say regarding full incorporation in the society of the Church. When Vatican II says that a Catholic must accept the Church's "entire system" in order to be fully incorporated into her society, how do such people understand these words? When the Council Fathers said that each and every Catholic must be "united with her (the Church) as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops" if they desire to be fully incorporated into her society, how do these "liberal Catholics" understand this teaching?
Should liberals leave the Catholic Church? I would say, along with Vatican II, that they already have. And I would urge them to return to fidelity via a good read of what Vatican II actually had to say regarding fidelity and obedience to the Church's hierarchy (for example in Lumen Gentium, No. 25).
One cannot speak of the "spirit of Vatican II" with any degree of credibility if one hasn't actually read the Conciliar documents.
Paul Anthony Melanson