Ross Douthat politely but definitively unloads on the liberal Catholic theologians who griped about his opining in The New York Times, critical of Pope Francis and his allies in attempting to liberalize Catholic teaching on marriage, divorce, and communion. Excerpt:

At which point we come to the third argument, which makes an appearance in your letter: You don’t understand, you’re not a theologian. As indeed I am not. But neither is Catholicism supposed to be an esoteric religion, its teachings accessible only to academic adepts. And the impression left by this moving target, I’m afraid, is that some reformers are downplaying their real position in the hopes of bringing conservatives gradually along.

What is that real position? That almost anything Catholic can change when the times require it, and “developing” doctrine just means keeping up with capital-H History, no matter how much of the New Testament is left behind.

As I noted earlier, the columnist’s task is to be provocative. So I must tell you, openly and not subtly, that this view sounds like heresy by any reasonable definition of the term.

Now it may be that today’s heretics are prophets, the church will indeed be revolutionized, and my objections will be ground under with the rest of conservative Catholicism. But if that happens, it will take hard grinding, not just soft words and academic rank-pulling. It will require a bitter civil war.

And so, my dear professors: Welcome to the battlefield.

Read the whole thing. It is marvelous. That is a Catholic layman who has stones. That is a Catholic layman who is prepared to fight for what he believes to be true. I hope that the courage of his very public witness gives orthodox Catholic priests, theologians, laymen and all others what they need to find their own voice.

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