I owe Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich a debt of gratitude. He recently was quoted as saying:
We have always wanted to make sure that we start the conversation by saying that all people are of value and their lives should be respected and that we should respect them. That is why I think that the terms gay and lesbian, L.G.B.T., all of those names that people appropriate to themselves, should be respected. People should be called the way that they want to be called rather than us coming up with terms that maybe we’re more comfortable with.
That was the moment I finally knew it was true; I understood that, undoubtedly, the Church has repealed the universal “law of non-contradiction”.
Now, literally everything I have ever experienced as a member of the Catholic Church for the last half-century makes perfect sense.
Most of you will know that the “law of non-contradiction” simply states that a thing cannot “be” and “not be” at the same time. But that was then, and this is now. I finally realize that the Church has reserved for Herself the power to both bind and loose the same thing at the same time.
But don’t ask me for evidence of a decree or declaration from the Magisterium on this—the great thing about the repeal of the law of non-contradiction is that no evidence of a repeal is necessary, because a thing can now both “be” and “not be” at the same time. Get it? The fact that there is no evidence is how we know it has been repealed. Quite amazing, isn’t it?
Let’s take a very simple example: the one Cardinal Cupich mentions above. Now, it’s true that the Church has always taught and continues to teach that there is exactly one “sexuality” (not plural sexualities) and exactly two “sexual identities” (man and woman). It’s also true that a necessary consequence of Church teaching is the conclusion that the ideologies of orientation and gender are based on a false anthropology and yield only false “sexualities” and “identities” that keep multiplying (LGBTQIA and more).
But that’s okay now. Now we don’t have to call things by their right names anymore. Now it can be a sign of respect to refer to people by false terms of identity, as long as the people themselves like those terms. Just say what flavor of sexual orientation is yours at the moment (knowing that “who you are” could actually change next week, so just keep me updated), and I’ll use that term. That’s you, by golly. As for gender, no worries! Were you assigned male at birth, but now identify as female? No problem: you are assuredly a woman with male genitalia, so you can just tell me what new and exciting pronouns I should be using, plus whatever feminine moniker you wish to use. I will respect your choices in this matter. Be a man and a woman at the same time, if you like.
And you are a man married to another man? I respect that term you use: marriage. Hey, you’re married—it’s the word you want to use. And, sir, this is your husband? Of course he is. That’s the name you’ve appropriated, and I respect that.
Once you fully understand that the law of non-contradiction has been repealed, then it becomes easy to see just how sensible it is to happily co-exist with any previously perceived “contradictions” in the life of the Church. Let’s take a look at even more non-contradictory contradictions that I used to see as a bit paradoxical, but now finally understand to be perfectly normal.
The Catholic Church and Other Religions: Of course, no one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ, but feel free to be a Christian Buddhist, or any other combination you’d like. Try self-identifying as a Christian Atheist. Oh, and no need for any non-Christians to convert.
Liturgical Law and Liturgical Practice: It turns out that all those decades of apparent confusion and dissonance between the rubrics of the Mass and what clergy and laity opted to do with the Mass was very much an early hint of the repeal of the law of non-contradiction. How else should we explain having all that great history, and such clear directions about the Mass, upended by years of wacky experimentation? High Mass or Polka Mass? No difference. Now, it’s all just fine—we can still be faithful to the liturgy while disobeying all the rubrics.
Church Teaching and Church Practice: Repeal of this antiquated law of logic can give us some real peace of mind when it comes to apparent discrepancies between doctrine and pastoral practices. Now we don’t even have to argue about whether our church community should offer “communion before conversion”—it can just be communion without conversion altogether! If a Church document says one thing, and a later document says another thing, does it really matter? We can just do both things at the same time, or pick one or the other. No pressure. Obedience just co-exists with disobedience. We don’t have to believe what we do, or do what we believe.
Remarriage Without Annulment: The repeal is particularly helpful regarding divorce and remarriage. Now the marriage bond with your first spouse cannot at all contradict a new marriage bond with a second spouse (or a third)—just call it “the more the marry-er”! It solves so many otherwise major problems.
Worthiness To Receive Communion: Similarly, we needn’t worry our consciences any longer about things like “manifest grave sin” or “scandal” or “intrinsically evil” acts—especially those biggies that everyone gets hung up about. It turns out that all really are welcome when everything is possible at the same time. No barriers, no conditions. No need for Reconciliation before Communion. We’re all good persons, aren’t we? Even when we’re not.
Catholics Who Reject Catholic Teaching: On a very practical level, no longer having to worry about contradiction means that dissenting Catholics everywhere in the world aren’t really dissenting after all. Now you can believe Catholic teaching and not believe it at the same time. Now you can be a perfect Catholic without ever having to profess the Catholic faith!
Parishes and Groups That Reject Catholic Teaching: If you’re like me, you know of a number of different Catholic parishes and organizations that openly flaunt the Church’s teaching while still claiming to be faithful Catholics. From the issues of women priests to same-sex marriage to abortion, now all these formerly radical parishes and groups can blend right into the rest of the Church without any fear of rejection. We can infallibly teach that only men can be priests while simultaneously promoting women’s ordination. We can call contraception intrinsically evil while keeping birth control handy in our homes. We can let gay men and women enjoy same-sex marriage, and, along with transwomen and transmen, they can still be extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass.
Church Leaders Who Refuse to Teach What the Church Teaches: And, of course, we can have clergy and lay leaders withhold whatever Church teachings they may not like personally, instead suppressing official teaching and substituting whatever random gobblety-gook might seem right at any given moment. Catechesis? Evangelization? Why worry about any of that? There is no longer any such thing as “true” and “not true.” In fact, everything is really, really true. But at the same time, everything is really, really not true, too. Catholic education just got easier, and it also just got useless.
Such a relief, right? No more conflicts, tensions, disagreements, or worry about whether a certain doctrine is “true” or a certain practice is “right.” It’s all the same. “To be or not to be” is no longer the question.
Rather, it is now: “to be and not to be—that is the answer.”
Unless….okay, I’ll admit it, now that my little thought experiment is over: I don’t really think the Church has repealed the law of non-contradiction.
I only think that, a lot of the time, it seems that way.