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Why I’m Not Returning To Catholicism

Time magazine asked me to write something for its website on Pope Francis. I tried to think of something nobody else had said. Is there anything by now? Probably not. What I settled on was writing something contrary to the meme going around that fallen-away Catholics are thinking of returning to the Church now that there’s a nice guy on the Petrine throne, not God’s Rottweiler. As an admirer and fellow traveler (though a fallen-away one) of Benedict, I think that’s a nonsense distinction, but anyway, I wanted to point out that the supposed heartless rigor of the John Paul/Benedict church was not only a mirage, but rather the lack of moral rigor and spiritual seriousness in the life of the Americna church was a contributing factor to the loss of my own Catholic faith.

Here’s the essay. I want to add for readers of this blog something that I didn’t get into in the Time essay, because it was already too long: that the primary reason I’m not a candidate for returning to Rome is because I simply do not believe Catholic doctrine any longer. If I had the essay to write over, I would have added these lines:

To be sure, the primary reason I’m not for turning back to Rome is because I do not believe Catholic doctrine any longer. Even if I thought Francis was the second coming of John the Baptist, I couldn’t rejoin a church in whose ecclesiological claims I have ceased to believe. The point here is simply that the aspect of Francis’s papal ministry that the world sees as a feature is, for people like me, a bug.

Anyway, read the whole thing. I’m happy to publish criticism in the comments thread, but not abuse.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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