Any ambiguity about whether Douthat was merely predicting a schism or actively threatening one was settled with his column this past Sunday, in which he weighed in on the recently concluded Synod on Marriage and the Family. The synod was chaotic, with reformist bishops (handpicked by the pope) at first seeming to propose significant alterations in church teaching on marriage, divorce, and homosexuality, and then backing off after an outcry from more conservative prelates. After discussing these events and the history of the doctrine of papal infallibility, Douthat concluded that a time may soon come when conservative Catholics will have to decide whether or not to “protect the church from self-contradiction” by choosing to “resist” the pope.
Damon Linker. Damon has been writing one great column after another for the past year or so, but I don’t get this one. How is “resisting” the Pope — with regard to matters on which Francis himself insists he is not speaking, and will not speak, ex cathedra and therefore infallibly — tantamount to schism? Was Dante threatening schism when he denounced the corruption of the papacy in his own day? Clearly not. He was calling for reform, not separation. And what Ross is doing is far, far less dramatic than what Dante did, and a thousand other prominent internal critics of the Roman church have done. Ross isn’t within a million miles of schismatic speech or action.