Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 72(2) May 2022


Leaving the Church

 Dr Pravin Thevathasan

AuthorSomeone I know is leaving the Catholic Church. He told me that he is "fed up of all the confused teaching coming out of Rome and elsewhere." I tried explain that even the pope is limited in his teaching authority.

When he teaches what has always been taught on matters of faith and morals, then this requires obedience. When he expresses an opinion or says something novel, this is not an expression of the ordinary magisterium. My acquaintance is one of those Catholics who think that everything the pope says requires blind obedience. This leads to sedevacantism, the erroneous belief that when a pope says something in contradiction to what has always been taught, he is no longer pope.

Why is there so much confusion in the Church? One reason surely is that so many of our leaders have had a poor formation in seminaries. As a result, there is a crisis in the teaching authority of the Church at all levels. In an important article entitled What Are Bishops Supposed To Teach?[1]  Fr Gerald Murray examines statements made by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg and Relator General of the 2023 Synod on Synodality. Fr Murray writes that Hollerich has "rejected the Church's teaching on the grave immorality of homosexual acts." When one reads what Hollerich has actually said, it soon becomes clear that he is saying nothing new: liberal Protestants have been saying the same things for decades. This includes the notion that there is some kind of conflict between science and the constant teachings of the Church on sexual morality and many other matters. For the Modernist, as Fr Murray puts it so well, "truth is not founded upon divinely inspired Scripture, Tradition, or the natural law, but rather depends upon the ever-changing findings of sociology and science."

Hollerich is not alone. When I “Googled” "German bishops homosexuality" the following results appeared: "Two German bishops question Church's teaching on LGBT," "Germany's quiet Catholic rebellion on gay blessings," and "125 German Catholic priests, religious and lay employees publicly come out as LGBT," to name but three. In a manner akin to that of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the German Church is trying to direct the rest of the Church.

My friend sees very confused teaching in all this. We must, of course, be compassionate towards all people, of all beliefs, values and backgrounds, as we make our journey together through life, seeking right and trying to avoid wrong. But if we airbrush the truth, or simply reject, modify or seek to replace fundamental truths, then we will be dishonest and then we will mislead people. The light of truth does not fit easily under a bushel. (Matthew 5:15). While we must always express and explain things compassionately, if we hide the Light and the Truth, it will not be seen.

I understand why people like my friend are choosing to leave the Church. It is my firm belief that they are wrong to do so. There is a great deal of confusion and scandal in the Church. All the more reason for us to stay and pray.


[1]  Murray, Fr Gerald. What Are Bishops Supposed to Teach? The Catholic Thing, Feb 17, 2022.