Richard Blanchard wrote in with a little thing about the real meaning of dissent and how it applies to those like Voice of the Faithful who say they don’t exclude anyone who dissents from Church teaching. I reprint it here with the hope that others may write in with their own comments:
What does it mean to be a CATHOLIC?
To arrive at the answer one has to be willing to use good reasoning, that is, good common sense with the ability to understand the logic that goes along with it.
One is a CATHOLIC if one can truly fit the definition of being a DISCIPLE.
Who is going to tell you what DISCIPLESHIP IS?
Certainly, one is not going to rely on another human being to determine this. After all, every human being is just as fallible as the other and not very reliable or trustworthy to do this.
So, who is to tell us?
The answer is none other than the Savior, Jesus Himself, providing of course that we do so with the virtue of faith.
And faith is the act we make in accepting the truths, as revealed by the infallible authority of the One revealing the truths, whether they are acceptable or not, to our liking.
Jesus is God, therefore He is the infallible One, revealing the truths we are to live.
This is what Jesus tells us what discipleship is. “If you live according to my teaching, you are truly my disciples; then you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”
If anyone rejects just one aspect of His teaching, that one loses discipleship, loses union with the Lord. The truth cannot any longer be discerned except that truth that one conjures up from ones one personal or subjective view point. And this truth is not from the Lord.
For example: No truth about what the Lord has revealed about Himself, and about the Church he founded can be rejected. Hence anyone who holds that Our Lord did not know who he was from the Incarnation, but was only aware of His role until years later is rejecting Divine Revelation.
One who says the Lord did not found a Church is rejecting His teaching. Any one who says that the Holy Father is not the true successor to Peter is rejecting Hid teaching. Anyone who does not accept the teaching in Humanae Vitae on the question of birth control, is rejecting His teaching.
Anyone who does not accept the teaching that the priesthood is only for men, and this is the will of the Lord, is rejecting His teaching. Anyone who says that my subjective conscience can override the teaching of the Church on birth control and therefore am not sinning, is rejecting the teaching of Christ.
This kind of rejection is called DISSENT. One must not confuse discussion or questioning with dissent. Discussion or questioning is good when the goal is to understand better the truth or make things clearer.
But dissent is the stubborn rejection of a truth of the Lord or His Church after one has been baptized into His Church. So, remember we are talking about baptized Catholics here, be he bishop, priest, theologian, or a religious, or a member of the laity.
The Holy Father has made it very clear that dissent is a very serious offense. So much so that any Catholic cannot approach the Sacrament of Holy Communion in this condition.
Also in Canon Law the just penalty that can be imposed is exclusion from the Church. Likewise, it can lead to being a heretic.
Voice of the Faithful, under the present leadership falls under the catergory of DISSENTERS. Anyone who knowingly and freely aligns with VOTF is an accomplice in that dissent.
Discipleship is lost. One can no longer, therefore, call oneself CATHOLIC.
Is this so hard to understand?
I might clarify that discussion or questioning of a doctrine, even for a Catholic, is not necessarily dissent if one is trying to understand the teaching, as Richard says. I think the reader could get the wrong impression that Richard is saying that baptized Catholics can’t do so, which I don’t think he is.