I know he thinks that his watered-down, softened-up version of Catholicism is making it easier for us, but the real effect is quite the opposite, and this is easy to understand.
As all of you know, disapproval (or even insufficiently-enthusiastic approval) of homosexuality is becoming a punishable offense throughout the Western world. Failure to go along with the emerging consensus can, depending on one’s line of work, lead to being fired or facing fines for violating anti-discrimination laws. And yet modern man still claims to believe in freedom of belief and respect for conscience. How does he resolve the contradiction? He says that moral opposition to homosexuality isn’t really a belief. It’s not even a mistaken belief (since, as a good liberal, he knows that the state may not discriminate between sects on the ground of truth or falsity). It is just groundless emotional animus disguising itself as a belief. It can thus be punished. Error may have rights, but animus has none.
Now, actually I agree that the state has no sacred obligation to respect my right to annoy and insult groups of people that I dislike for no reason. However, I obviously don’t think that groundless dislike is what drives opposition to gay marriage. After all, distinct gender roles have been from time immemorial a central part of how we organize our families and fashion our identities; they are certainly not a post-facto excuse to slight the minority with abnormal sexual urges.
Anyway, suppose I had some kind of job in which somebody might ask me to perform a function that effectively involved approving homosexuality. I say “No dice. That would violate my beliefs.” At this point, the other guy will say “You bigot! You’re just saying that because you hate gays. I’ll sue!” What is my defense? I must argue that my beliefs are not hostility-based. I’ll say “I don’t hate anyone in particular, but after having considered the arguments and evidence, I have come to believe in the truth of a certain set of beliefs about the world, our place in it, and the proper way to live. My set of beliefs is called ‘Roman Catholicism’, and I didn’t choose it for its opposition to homosexuality. I became convinced of its truth for its answers to more general questions about the human condition. Nevertheless, these beliefs do have consequences for sexual morality, and among them is that sex is only licit for a married husband and wife.”
Thanks to Pope “Who am I to judge?” and Cardinal “Bravo!”, this defense no longer carries any water. If I say that the Catholic worldview forces me to condemn sodomy, my prosecutor can point to Francis and Dolan to show that apparently it doesn’t. (And, to be clear, any obscure orthodox statements we could dig up from these men will do nothing to offset the public impression created by their celebrated statements of indifferentism.) There are now two Catholicism’s: Catholicism A (the pope’s) and Catholicism B (mine), and my judge or HR officers can fairly think they’re being very generous if they grant my take on Catholicism equal weight as the pope’s. How do Catholicism A and B differ? I suspect they differ in everything, but I can’t prove it, because officially Francis and Dolan still believe in the Trinity, creation ex nihilo, apostolic succession, and the rest; they just don’t “obsess” over sexual sins. So sexual morality is the main definite difference between Catholicism A and B.
How then do I justify my adherence to Catholicism B rather than A? It can only be because of my irrational animus toward gays, right?
“But…but, the Bible!” I cry, “and Sacred Tradition, and natural law…” That’s no good. Francis and Dolan say they accept all of those things just as much as I do, and yet they didn’t reach (or at least seem to the world not to have reached) my “hateful” conclusions. They offer themselves to the world as proof that Catholics can ignore (or, at least, appear to ignore) Jesus and Saint Paul when it comes to sex. By claiming for themselves every principle of Catholicism while refusing to visibly stand by its moral consequences, these princes of the Church have left me with nothing to which I can appeal when I refuse to betray the Faith myself. To prove that my beliefs are not a cloak for anti-gay animus, I must argue that he Catholic hierarchy is misrepresenting Catholicism. My situation is hopeless, and my guilty verdict is assured. And yet it is true! The hierarchy does misrepresent the Faith to promote their own private popularity at the expense of the faithful.
Thanks a lot, jackasses.