The Catholic Position
April 4, 2002

by Joe Sobran

     A few weeks ago I tried, in my feeble way, to 
express why I fell in love with the Catholic Church. I 
received many gracious and grateful responses from others 
who felt the same way, some of them converts like me.

     Inevitably, there were also a few jeers, directed 
not so much against me as against the Church. Some 
dredged up old scandals of wicked popes, or supposedly 
shocking utterances of Catholic saints, or mere cliches 
of traditional anti-Catholic polemics. Most of these were 
meant to embarrass, not to persuade; the usual 
ahistorical nuggets.

     What is startling is the perpetual passion of anti-
Catholicism. You'd think that by now people who reject 
Catholicism would calmly ignore its teachings as old and 
irrelevant superstitions. After all, the Church has none 
of her old political power, adherence is now totally 
voluntary, and she has enough trouble getting her own 
children to listen to her.

     But Catholicism still has a strange moral authority, 
and many people are unable to achieve a calm and assured 
disbelief. They are still driven to discredit the Church 
-- perhaps for the same reason so many of us believe in 

     Catholicism offers a complete and comprehensive 
morality, one which most of us still recognize as the 
faith of our fathers. Bit by bit, the world, including 
other churches, has abandoned much of this morality; the 
Church continues to teach it, even when some of her own 
priests scandalously violate it.

     A few generations ago, nearly all Christians shared 
the same sexual morality. They abhorred artificial birth 
control, for example. Many state laws banning the sale of 
contraceptive devices in this country were passed by 
Protestant majorities while Catholics were politically 

     Gradually, however, Protestants ceased to oppose 
contraception, and Catholicism almost alone continued to 
condemn it. What had long been a consensus became 
censured as a "Catholic position." We now see the same 
process well under way with abortion and homosexuality.

     If cannibalism ever becomes popular, and the rest of 
the world, led by its progressive-minded intellectuals, 
decides that anthropophagy is a basic constitutional 
right, opposing cannibalism will become a "Catholic 
position" too. Catholics will once more be accused of 
wanting to "impose" their "views" on everyone else (even 
when they are far too weak to do so), and the reformers 
will cry, "Let's keep government out of the kitchen!"

     I don't defend the Church's morality because I am a 
Catholic. I became and remain a Catholic because the 
Church maintains a consistent morality -- while the rest 
of the world keeps veering off into moral fads. My 
conviction that she is right is only strengthened by the 
world's strident demand that she change along with it, as 
if it were a sort of moral duty to change one's 
principles, like underwear, with reasonable frequency.

     "The world" includes many nominal Catholics who side 
with the secular world against their own Church. These 
are the Catholics you are most likely to see in the major 
media. They deny the Church's authority to keep teaching 
what she has always taught, yet they can't rest until she 
approves their pet vices -- contraception, sodomy, same-
sex marriage, and all the rest.

     Notice that the proposed reforms usually have to do 
with sex. When the Church refuses to change, she is 
accused of being "obsessed" with sex, when it's really 
her critics who are obsessed with it. Catholic morality 
recognizes seven deadly sins, of which lust is only one; 
but this happens to be the one the modern world can't 
stop thinking about. Nobody demands that the Church 
"change its outdated teachings against sloth."

     At any rate, the Church can't change. She can no 
more change her teaching about lust than her equally 
emphatic teachings about pride, gluttony, and sloth, 
because God has made the world as it is and no human will 
can repeal its moral order. These aren't the Pope's 
personal opinions; they are objective truths.

     Powerless, hardly able to keep her own flock in 
line, and betrayed by many of her shepherds, the Church 
is still treated as a threat. All she really threatens is 
the false comfort of the dormant conscience; but this is 
enough to make bitter enemies.

     After all, her Founder warned her not to expect 
gratitude from men for trying to save their souls. She is 
the mother of Western civilization, and to this day, all 
too often, she is blamed for everything and thanked for 


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