The fruits of mutilation of personal and ecclesial identity

With a tip of the biretta to Rev. Mr. Kandra at Deacon’s Bench, this comes from The Union Democrat (and ironically appropriate title).

I want to preface this with a couple comments.

First, Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity. Anglicanorum coetibus is in force.

Second, when a “church” (and the Episcopal “Church” is not a Church, properly defined according to Dominus Iesus) is attached to the State, that “church” must inevitably follow in its “doctrines” and practices the tides of secular fancies, trends, social mores, etc. As prevailing culture and the state go, so will that “church” go. That is what is going on in the Anglican sphere and in all ther other groups that at attached and, indeed, other non-Church “churches”.

Public Defender Woodall ordained as Episcopal deacon

A Tuolumne County woman was ordained as an Episcopalian deacon at a Saturday ceremony in Stockton, joining a small but growing group of transgender clergy members.

Carolyn Woodall, an attorney with the Tuolumne County Public Defender’s Office, was conferred the title in a ceremony at the Episcopal Church of St. Anne in Stockton, joined by dozens of church leaders, family members and friends.
She will serve at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown, comprised mainly of local Episcopalians who stayed with the faith following a 2007 rift in the San Joaquin Diocese, which saw more-conservative members leave and join the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America.

Woodall called the ceremony “wonderful” and said she was “very relieved.”

“I’ve finally gotten past it,” she said.


If you can stomach it, read the rest over there.

As the great Roman Fabrizio put it to me by email:

“Putting the “trans” in Transitional Deacon huh?”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Dogs and Fleas, Pope of Christian Unity, Throwing a Nutty and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Rich says:

    I’m sorry, I didn’t even read much of the post, but just saw the picture there. For what it’s worth, the picture brightened up my day with its hilarity.

  2. Dax says:

    Good grief……Is “she” Buddhist too?

    If you can stomach it, read the rest over there.

    I don’t and won’t.

  3. thefeds says:

    What a trainwreck!

  4. shane says:

    A part of me admires ‘her’ for consistency. ‘She’ has taken Anglican principles to their logical conclusion….

  5. mamajen says:

    It’s like they’re testing God to see how much they could possibly offend Him in one go. How lost these people all are.

  6. acardnal says:

    no comment.

  7. What a twist, indeed! A him comes a her in order to function in a role usually entrusted to him. Only in the Episcopal Church!

  8. Joseph-Mary says:

    I passed on reading any more. I get the picture…

    and that poor ‘ecclesial community’ goes farther and farther away from Christ and His Gospel.

  9. DocJim says:

    I joined the episcopal church USA in 1964 because I wanted a more liturgical church than the bapto-methodism I was raised in. I got that and much more in future decades.

    This was not the principal reason I went to the Latin Mass on Christmas eve a half dozen years ago. It was to accompany my wife. But I was grabbed by the Holy Spirit and have only been inside a few “episcopal’ churches in England since. One was Durham Cathedral and I was next to tears in that ancient Roman cathedral, understanding what had happened to it. Later at Beverly Minster and Ripon Cathedral, I didn’t feel the disjunction as deeply. Ripon Cathedral seemed so simply ageless and Roman Catholic, it was wonderful.

    My “catechism” decades ago as a new American episcopalian said it was simply an evolution of the old Roman church. I accepted that for 20 years. In the months before I was struck by the Holy Spirit during the First Mass of Christmas, I “happened” to do some reading of English history and was appalled at the English Martyrs’ fates. I was primed and ready for the conversion to the CHURCH.

    I think the serious religious people in the Anglican communion will be sliding over to Pope Benedict’s invitation and feeling the soul satisfaction of the Roman communion.

    This deacon won’t understand that.

  10. Sissy says:

    As a former Episcopalian, and now soon-to-be former Anglican, it’s my opinion that there are many Anglican groups who can be called “ecclesial communities”, as they are still Christian. But I’m not sure you can describe the American Episcopal outfit as either. Among my friends who have also fled the Episcopal debacle, there is a saying that it is no longer TEC (The Episcopal Church) but rather, TEO (The Episcopal Organization). I’m sure there are still some shipwrecked, Christian folks left in the pews in TEO, but the leadership long sense fell off the cliff into the abyss. I pray for those dear souls who are trying to sit on the fence; may they find their way to true Mother Church before it’s too late.

  11. Laura R. says:

    If you can stomach it, read the rest over there.

    I’m sorry to say that there are many of us who lived with this stuff as our regular fare for years, as we watched the church we had loved disintegrate into something that had less and less to do with Christianity. Three years ago I watched the goings-on of the Episcopal General Convention online during the summer I was attending Catholic Mass in preparation for RCIA; it was like going back and forth between a war zone and a place where life was normal, sane and healthy again. The upside: out of the heartbreak has come for many of us the great joy and blessing of being received into the Catholic Church.

    The train wreck just keeps on going: for this summer’s General Convention, there is a proposal to change the canons to admit the unbaptized to the eucharist, something that’s already done in many parishes already. It may not pass this summer, but it’s most likely inevitable.

  12. digdigby says:

    That’s nothing. I heard about an American Episcopal priest who was tormented by the fact that he was a man in a man’s body. He became a Catholic.

  13. mike cliffson says:

    And here’s me these past 30 years thinking ET was a science fiction movie.

  14. JordanH says:

    Can’t we just ignore this “news”. What is to gained by holding this person and their community up to scorn?

  15. Laura R. says:

    JordanH: it is important that faithful Catholics and other Christians realize what can in fact happen when those in Christian churches, ecclesial societies, or whatever they are called begin to go against the precepts laid down by God in His Word and obeyed in His Church for centuries. Fifty or sixty years ago most Episcopalians would not have believed that things that are now accepted as a matter of course in the Episcopal Church could ever have happened at all.

  16. John Nolan says:

    Fifty or sixty years ago most Catholics would not have believed that things that are now accepted as a matter of course in the Catholic Church could ever have happened at all.

  17. One of those TNCs says:

    I read the rest of the article. My attention was caught by this part:
    “The Rev. George Cano of St. Anne’s, who led Saturday’s sermon, said, “We know what it is being Christians in a prejudiced world,” adding that it took the division of the church to make the Episcopalian faith “truly inclusive.””

    Two points:
    The world, I think, is supposed to be prejudiced: prejudiced against sin, against mocking God, against sinful behavior. The only other thing to do is either be indifferent to sin or to be condoning of sin.

    I guess the moral of his/her story, as well as the story of all who attend this “church,” is that people can divide and divide and divide until they are small enough to form a “community” in which they can to do just as they please.

    “Truly inclusive” is a phrase worthy only of the Father of Lies.

  18. AnAmericanMother says:

    The reason is to impress upon vaguely catechized and culturally trendy Catholics why we do not want to give in to the popular culture.
    Like Laura, I’m a former Episcopalian and I weep at the sheer raving lunacy of my former home (I was sixth generation – it is no joke to leave that sort of family tradition).
    But this did not happen all at once, it happened step by step, bit by bit, with the constant whispered assurance in our ears that “oh, this is the kind thing to do – how can you be so exclusive and judgmental?”
    And all of a sudden, you find yourself in a place where poor confused people with serious mental problems are encouraged to mutilate their bodies and lionized as “courageous” mostly because those doing the lionizing want to show how tolerant and up-to-date they are. These unhappy individuals need sympathetic, positive treatment of their mental issues, not a bunch of co-dependents who are using them for their own purposes.
    I can’t tell you how many well-meaning Catholics I have explained to – in detail – why you cannot give in to politically-correct blackmail because they never stop at just one concession. As Kipling said, once you start paying the Danegeld you never get rid of the Dane.

  19. mamajen says:


    I agree with you that we should all be careful about our comments on this. I feel sorry for this “deacon”. He and the people supporting him could use our prayers. I do think stories like this are an important illustration of what could happen in our own Church if bishops and priests did as they pleased. We need to be vigilant and understand why our Church’s laws exist.

  20. acardnal says:

    We cannot put our heads in the sand and ignore the world around us. That is what many did during the rise of Nazi and Fascist governments . . . some would include the current American milieu as well. We have to identify evil and error in the world and address it with the Truth charitably.

  21. mamajen says:


    Although I’ve been Catholic all my life, I had similar experiences visiting English cathedrals. It’s heartbreaking learning the history. Even though they are architecturally beautiful, they feel empty to me. I get a completely different feeling when I visit a Catholic church.

    God bless all of you former Episcopalians! I greatly admire converts.

  22. The author of the article used the term, “conferred the title”! I thought that was an excellent choice of words!

  23. Luvadoxi says:

    DocJim–I visited Durham 3 years ago and had the exact same feeling of sadness! Such an ancient cathedral, the Venerable Bede, that undercroft and the feeling of antiquity. And it was once Catholic, with the Real Presence.

  24. TravelerWithChrist says:

    I am sorry for the daughter of this person, for the children of such “gender disordered” people. What a crock. Our society has feminized so far as to make fathers become women.

    If God had wanted him to be a her, wouldn’t He have done so from the beginning???

    Is there a clause prohibiting Catholic priests from undergoing such operations?

    …sigh…more praying to do…

  25. Maltese says:

    Our society has feminized so far as to make fathers become women.

    Our society has feminized, for sure, but a father will never become a woman, only a faux-pseudo-woman. And never a mother; motherhood is reserved to those with ovum.

  26. aspiringpoet says:

    I know I’ll probably be attacked for saying this, but I feel that there’s a lack of charity here. Yes, the Anglican Church is in very bad shape, but this person is also a human being, you know. Let’s remember that people with gender dysphoria did not choose this condition – although they can choose how they respond to it – and that those of them who are trying to live lives faithful to the Catholic Church’s teaching on their disorder suffer greatly from the disconnect between their biological gender and what they feel and believe is their psychological gender.

    There are faithful Catholics who have this problem, and they don’t need to be shunned in disgust; nor do those who choose to live as the gender they *think* they are. Surely we can just say, “That’s wrong” without making metaphorical gagging noises like a teenager. I believe that gender dysphoria is still classified as a psychiatric disorder, and certainly the people who have it experience it as such. Do we really want to be laughing at people suffering from a psychiatric disorder? A better response would be prayer.

  27. eulogos says:

    aspiring poet-You are right on a personal level. Such people do suffer, and they suffer whether they mutilate themselves or not. And they still deserve to be treated with the dignity due to all human beings. But a distinction has to be made between taking that attitude to such people as people, and going along with the current notion that they are actually becoming their true selves by having this mutilating surgery.

    Traveler, in a word, yes. I believe that a man who is not a “whole” man cannot become a priest, and I am assuming that if one were so ill as to have this sort of thing done to him, he would not be permitted to function as a priest. Someone might know more about this than I do.

    poet again….You are right, prayer is always the right response. But I think it is natural that such things make us so uncomfortable that we engage in jocularity to deal with it. There is something to be said for a natural reaction. It isn’t a supernatural reaction, but it is better than a contranatural, or subnatural one. You are right, though, to urge us to the supernatural one.
    Susan Peterson

  28. AnAmericanMother says:

    aspiring poet,
    Let’s just say I have first-hand personal knowledge of this problem and leave it at that.
    The problem with the whole “transgender industry” is that it is focused not on the individual sufferers (like this unfortunate man) nor on the causes of their disorder or the solution of their underlying problems — which in my experience are substantial and independent of any self-identification as one sex or the other.
    The media and the mental health industry have become focused entirely on “transgender” as a cause and the identity politics of advancing social and political acceptance. And part of that cause is “affirming” these unfortunates in their disorder and confusion, which means that serious psychiatric issues are ignored in favor of hormone therapy and surgical mutilation.
    And once these poor souls are carved up and bombarded with foreign hormones and dressed up to try to look like the opposite sex (not particularly successfully, either, in my experience) — they still have the psychiatric issues. On a far more trivial level, it’s the same problem that certain women have — thinking that a nose job or breast enhancement or whatever is going to magically make all their personal and social difficulties go away, rather than doing the hard work of facing up to and solving their problems.
    And not much is being done by the self-congratulatory psychiatrists and politicians about that.

  29. NoraLee9 says:

    I don’t think anyone here is laughing. I DO think it’s important to be aware of what’s happening elsewhere, because we need to be prepared. There is a very interesting case of demonic possession which resulted in “transgender mutilation.”. It is recorded in Malacy Martin’s Hostage to the Devil. I’m not saying that every person who walks into Hetrick Martin is possessed. I am saying that knowledge of these situations helps us hash out appropriate responses. Can you imagine Our Lord’s response to someone who came to him and said, “Help me Lord. I am a man living in a woman’s body, ( or vice versa)? So you think he would change the person’s gender, or relieve the compulsion,… Or drive out the demon?

  30. acardnal says:

    I would refer you to the substantiated science based studies and work of Dr. Joseph Nicolosi who has done some landmark work on the subject of reparative therapy and, , also an evangelical website and

  31. Centristian says:

    It’s the American offshoot of the non-Church of England we’re talking about, here. They could consecrate and enthrone as Archbishop of Washington a lemon meringue pie and what possible difference would it make? It would be every bit as much a bishop as Katherine Jefferts Schori. Why not a transgendered deacon, then? Anglican Holy Orders having been rendered meaningless centuries ago, I would find it offensive if they DID discriminate against transgendered persons, as that would simply be outright bigotry.

  32. Nicole says:

    Centristian – I’d vote for key lime pie, moiself…or go key lime with meringue on top…and call it a trans-pie…

  33. Singing Mum says:

    Centristan- you had me squealing at the pie comment. In the music world, many Episcopalians, Henry inheritors, etc., scoff at low-brow Catholics for our (sadly) dismal state of music and ceremony. But the truly they suffer from such post-Christian wackiness, I guess all they’ve got to brag is a sad shell of ceremony. I know I sound woefully unecumenical, but I will never understand Anglicanism- the “church” with the most pitiable and pointless of origins- bring all those souls home, Lord.

  34. AnAmericanMother says: The problem with the whole “transgender industry” is that it is focused not on the individual sufferers (like this unfortunate man) nor on the causes of their disorder or the solution of their underlying problems — which in my experience are substantial and independent of any self-identification as one sex or the other. The media and the mental health industry have become focused entirely on “transgender” as a cause and the identity politics of advancing social and political acceptance. And part of that cause is “affirming” these unfortunates in their disorder and confusion, which means that serious psychiatric issues are ignored in favor of hormone therapy and surgical mutilation.

    That these poor people are simply pawns is further proven by the fact that children are being labeled “transgender” and put through “sex change” “therapy” — by adults who clearly have no moral or ethical standards. How many people who will subject a 12-year old to hormone “therapy” and genital mutilation would sputter in indignation at the idea of that same child entering the religious life or a minor seminary at an age when he is “too young” to make such a momentous decision?

  35. Aspiring poet:

    I agree with you about being charitable toward the individual in the news story. I think the humor and mockery is aimed not at this individual, but at the absurdities surrounding the event. Also, there are different sorts of humor, and one form is that which grapples with sad and offensive realities.

    There is something ludicrous here, but it’s not a human being. And a major part of the sadness and offense in the humor is on behalf of true human values–on behalf of the individual in the story. As noted already, he deserves far better than the mutilate-and-medicate approach.

  36. robtbrown says:

    aspiringpoet says:

    I know I’ll probably be attacked for saying this, but I feel that there’s a lack of charity here.

    How much charity did Christ show with the moneychangers in the Temple?

    I believe that gender dysphoria is still classified as a psychiatric disorder, and certainly the people who have it experience it as such.

    The concern here is not gender dysphoria but rather trans gender surgery. And we both know what happened to the classification of homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder.

  37. digdigby says:

    I’ll save my charity for the thousands of vulnerable young people who will confuse same sex attraction for gender dysphoria. They follow the ‘inspiring’ lead of Chaz Bono (who is said to be melting down like Chernobyl) and such ‘paragons’ and plunge themselves into truly hellish lives. The numbers for post-operative drug addiction, suicide and serious mental problems are OFF THE CHARTS. It is almost the norm for male to female TGs to go into prostitution.

  38. Supertradmum says:

    Social engineering was popular under Stalin and Hitler. Now, it is happening spontaneously with the blurring of gender and gender roles. We are so far down the path of male and female confusion as to traditional societal duties and vocations, I wonder seriously if this can ever be turned around. I am afraid that too many Catholics who are politically correct and uncatechized fall into sympathy with such women, who play the victim line and are so “oppressed”, poor dears.

    In the meantime, the Catholic people continue to be brainwashed by the liberal media which has turned everything into a civil rights issue. A complete failure of Western Civilization, as the family and the patriarchal models are being attacked daily, seems a given. It is not funny, but terribly sad that so many people fall into line because of stupidity and, worse, sexual sin. Behind every aberrational decision of a liturgical or clerical norm, there are sexual aberrations, I am convinced.

  39. By the way, someone asked why we don’t just “ignore” this “news.” I answer that indifference to such news is a bad sign and a dire portent. It is just such an attitude that allows the unthinkable quickly to morph into the commonplace.

  40. wmeyer says:

    Supertradmum, allow me to disagree slightly. The social engineering has been anything but spontaneous–you know as well as anyone the damage done to education by Dewey and his disciples; why be surprised at the fruits of their labors?

  41. PostCatholic says:

    As upset and derisive as you folks seem to be over this person affirming a profession in Jesus as a god and choosing an avocation of public ministry, it seems to me you have much more in common with her than you do not. To me, you’re engaged the narcissism of small differences.

  42. ContraMundum says:


    choosing an avocation….
    Well said. It was an avocation, which literally means that he was not called.

    And perhaps you are right also about “affirming Jesus as a god”. That’s something Hindus today are willing to do, and it was proposed as a “compromise” by the pagans of late antiquity. You are sufficiently fluent in the English language, however, to know the distinction between affirming Jesus as “a god” and affirming Jesus as God.

  43. Nicole says:

    Come on, aspiring poet, gender dysphoria is merely a fancy term for the preponderance of symptoms manifesting the punishments detailed in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans ( chapter one )… I do not buy that in most cases it is a psychiatric disorder whatsoever. It appears that mostly it is the spiritual fall-out from original sin and rejection of actual grace in preference for objectively sinful action.

    While a person should be treated with charity, this woman, if she claims to be “transgender” is making a ridiculous claim. Nature does not lie; this woman is a woman, whether she wishes she were a man or not.

  44. acardnal says:

    The X and Y chromosome test does not lie. Either you is or you ain’t.

  45. abasham says:

    Huh. It took a transgendered loony to finally trick the Episcopalians into ordaining men again.

    But before we get too smug in watching Anglicanism implode, let me tell you I lived in college in Stockton for the past 4 years, and the CATHOLIC diocese there isn’t much better.

    The last time I saw Bishop Blair was at a screening of that movie about homosexual Episcopalian “Bishop” Gene Robinson sponsored by the female Episcopalian “priest” the nut-jobs at my university hired as chaplain.

  46. ContraMundum says:


    Don’t jump too quickly to the conclusion that aberrant desires are “spiritual fall-out”. Note that even in cases of apparent (what many commenters on this blog would call obvious) demonic possession, the Church instructs the exorcist to take into account the possibility of psychiatric problems.

    And Jesus passing by, saw a man who was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him: Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

    Blindness is a handicap, not a gift to be “celebrated”. The only difference I see from gender dysphoria is that blindness does not seem to lead so directly to a temptation to sin.

  47. catholicmidwest says:

    This, and other similar situations, are so sad and so evil. Ideologues in our culture are just using the most troubled people in the society as fuel for their political bonfires. That’s all this is.

  48. Jack Hughes says:

    Is it just me or does the person pictured look like a guy in drag, the hair looks like a badly made wig on top of a doublechined guy.

  49. PostCatholic says:

    Okay, ContraMundum, affirming Jesus as one person of the one Abrahamic god. And avocation in the sense that the deacon in question has another job as an attorney, not in the sense that there’s an absence of some higher power calling her to the ministerial profession. Although I aver that such is also the truth for this Episcopalian deacon or any other Christian minister: no God calls anyone to anything.

  50. ContraMundum says:

    Again, PostCatholic, there is a difference between God and god. The two words don’t really mean the same thing. I know what you mean. I’d be interested in what the “deacon” meant.

  51. Nicole says:

    ContraMundum – I’m not disputing the fact that there could be actual psychiatric issues which manifest as gender dysphoria. I am merely stating that I don’t think it is, in fact, a psychiatric issue in most cases.

    I am not in any disagreement with you in regard to the notion that exorcists are cautioned to be certain that they are not treating psychiatric or psychological disorders as demonic possession, obsession, oppression, infestation, etc. I am also not in any disagreement that a physical evil, such as blindness, may have nothing to do with anyone’s personal sin whatsoever.

  52. digdigby says:

    PostCatholic is not quite post-Catholic or he/she wouldn’t come here so often and post-cat’s posts are curiously passionless and not at all angry (so rare!) just a quiet, resolute “No”. Reminds me of the ‘village atheist’ of 19th century France. Funny, but there are many ways to say ‘No’ and I find Post-Cats “No” arouses a certain protective tenderness in me.

  53. PostCatholic says:

    Capitalize the G then in my words. It really matters not to me.

  54. acardnal says:

    PostCatholic is nothing more than an agent provocateur in this blog. Best to ignore.

  55. mike cliffson says:

    “The X and Y chromosome test does not lie. Either you is or you ain’t.”
    Sadly , you are 99% correct, but not 100%.
    ( Considered as an individual, I left an uncharitable remark above, regarding the person in question- but a separated body of baptized christians has chosen to flagship its “modernity” Toleration etc, as others have commented above.)
    There are an incredibly small number of genetically male or female babies in whom the wrong hormone mix is secreted at weeks only of development and either develop as one or the other switching at puberty, or never. Many obvious abnormalities are picked up, or they may be so wholly obviously normal, in the case of seeming women, that it is only when they worry about infertility, say a couple of years into marriage, that the cause is revealed. They number perhaps 1000 per European country, perhaps then 6000 in the whole USA, allowing for cases that are never picked up medically, who just either never marry anyway, or just choose to live with infertility.. I understand that adult seemingly functional seeming males are unknown- their develpment is always peculiar.
    Another case where something chemical seems to be going on with I forget which drug prescribed , as alife maintaing necessity to a small minority of women during pregnancy with a boy has a tiny minority of such boys born WITH physical abornalmities especially in the genitalia, and a higher than average seemingly physically normal such boys who develop behavioural effeminacy , SSA, etc as they mature. Again cases in the low thousandsat most, and there may well be more we wot not of.
    I would not even be surprised to find that that environmental oestrogen pollution by “the pill” has played a role in some cases – the politically correct idea is zero – since millions of women take it, pee it, and it gets everywhere.
    Such considerations should help hold our judgement of any given individual – but it is equally obvious that 99% , however unwillingly, are made, not born, as you might say. They are NOT the justification for surgery and hormnal sexchange “therapies” as routinely carried out in Western christendom. Nor should they be the justification for anything else whatsoever.

  56. acardnal says:

    I am aware of these genetic abnormalities but they are statistically irrelevant.

  57. bbmoe says:

    I was an Episcopalian, and am now Catholic (and very happily so) but one thing I noticed about the whole discernment process in the Episcopal church was that they seemed to tolerate, nay, encourage, people with certain kinds of “issues.” At our seminary there are openly gay seminarians, and our priest, in rationalizing “inclusive language” said that in seminary, he roomed with a fellow who had been abused as a child by his father, so he didn’t like to think of God-the-Father. My question, “Aren’t you all supposed to have a HEALTHY idea of human relationships as pastors and doesn’t Christianity go a long way (all the way, ultimately) to healing our distorted view of relationships?” Uh, no.

    I did read the article, and was struck by the emergence of “gender identity issues” rather late in life. If it were up to me, there would be stiff penalties for any doctors who did these kinds of surgeries. It’s rather Mengeleian.

  58. ContraMundum says:


    I’ll leave it to you to say what you mean. Capitalization makes a difference, though. For example, I am a democrat, meaning that I accept that all people are born with equal dignity and that the structure of government should reflect that, but by no means a Democrat, meaning a member of the Democratic Party.

  59. Centristian says:

    “PostCatholic is nothing more than an agent provocateur in this blog. Best to ignore.”

    While I may disagree with many of them, I enjoy reading PostCatholic’s contributions. They are intelligent and well-written, even if (in my opinion) they sometimes miss the mark. I think PostCatholic is a sincere contributor, not an instigator, and I would be disappointed to see him/her disappear. Perhaps we shouldn’t simply ignore points of view that challenge our own. In any event, the combox remarks would be less interesting to read if we were all merely cheerleaders of a single point of view.

  60. PostCatholic says:

    Thanks, Centristan. I’m a him. I am a 40-something old former Catholic, former Catholic seminarian. I grew up in the Archdiocese of Boston and studied for the Archdiocese of Washington. I am a Unitarian Universalist and not a believer in gods. I count God as among gods that I do not believe in. I’ve said these things elsewhere in comments to this blog.

    I have to say, I didn’t like being labelled an agent provocateur. I am not trying to provoke anything more than thought, and perhaps if I’m successful the upshot will be a less angry and divisive view of the world.

  61. Elizabeth D says:

    Just to point out, Canon Law for a time provided a way to defect from the Catholic Church, but there is no longer a way to defect. Non practicing Catholics, or even those who deny they are Catholic anymore, are actually still Catholics and subject to Canon Law.

  62. oldcanon2257 says:

    @Elizabeth D

    I beg to differ.

    Canon 1117 in the 1983 Code of Canon Law states, “The form established above must be observed if at least one of the parties contracting marriage was baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not defected from it by a formal act, without prejudice to the prescripts of can. 1127, §2.

    I would guess the bold portion infers that there still is a way to defect from the Church formally. Perhaps we could ask Dr. Peters.

    Canon 751 states, “Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

    Again, we need to ask Dr. Peters to clarify, but I think PostCatholic qualifies for the condition described above in bold text, based on his public statements above (“I am a Unitarian Universalist and not a believer in gods. I count God as among gods that I do not believe in. I’ve said these things elsewhere in comments to this blog.“)

    The part I am still confused about is whether apostasy canonically counts as a formal act of defection???

    The “formal” part is unclear to me. What are the requirements for the act to be formal? For example, would the person in question need to send something in writing and verifiable to the CDF and declare his intention to defect for it to fit the definition of formal?

  63. oldcanon2257 says:


    You wrote:

    PostCatholic is nothing more than an agent provocateur in this blog. Best to ignore.

    Regardless of whether or not PostCatholic is an agent provocateur, so far in many instances he has appeared to help us learn to defend the Catholic faith better, many times without him even realizing the role he plays in that. God works in mysterious ways (somebody said God draws straight using crooked lines), so in the grand scheme of things, God might have instrumentalized PostCatholic for our benefits (that of the Church and of the Faith). Think of your arguments with him as training sessions so that you could offer better apologetics the next time you have to defend our Catholic faith in the non-virtual world.

    Back in the days before Pope John Paul II abolished it, for the canonization process there was a Devil’s advocate, formally known as the Promoter of the Faith whose duty was to argue in favor of skepticism.

    Perhaps in charity you could pray for PostCatholic instead, so that through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother he would come home. Remember that God did bring Saint Paul and Saint Augustine back to the Faith.

  64. quamquam says:


    Actually, in the Motu Proprio ‘Omnium in mentem’ (October 26 2009) Pope Benedict XVI officially altered Canon 1117, removing the very words you have in bold concerning ‘defecting from the Catholic Church by a formal act’. (Parallel passsages in Canons 1086 and 1124 were changed in the same way.) I believe the Code of Canon Law no longer refers to the formal act of defection from the Catholic Church.

    Prior to this, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts had already (13 March 2006) laid down stringent conditions concerning what constituted a ‘formal act of defection’.

  65. oldcanon2257 says:

    Thank you very much for the information. It is good to know.

    @Elizabeth D
    I stand corrected. :)

  66. jesusthroughmary says:

    Quamquam is correct. Benedict XVI struck down the provision invented by John Paul II allowing for a “formal act of defection” from the Church. It is no longer possible for such an act to be made (at least with any canonical effect).

  67. Supertradmum says:

    wmeyer, I agree with you, but when I meant spontaneous, which I did not explain well, I meant that people are “picking up” ideas even coming out of Catholic education ,which is supposedly sans Dewey, etc. But, you are correct that it is all on purpose.

  68. TravelerWithChrist says:

    I’m not laughing. I’m concerned for the souls who “follow” this individual. I’m concerned this individual did such mutilation because of unhappiness that won’t go away just because he/she is a deacon, who will likely want to be a pastor next.
    I’m concerned this is the way society is going as a whole; nay, I know this is the direction of society. Just look at the new cases of young children who are undergoing “sex-changing drugs”. And their parents are behind it…

    We have a problem here, folks. Only a true returning to prayer life and fasting, a protest against nasty television programming, and such – a speaking out of our FAITH, can turn this around. The stories such as Sodom and Gomorah are real. We can’t be tip-toeing around these topics any longer. The TRUTH must get out.

  69. PA mom says:

    I suggest that Post Catholic’s self stated biography is a further testament to the challenging (corrupted???) seminary culture of the time. It must be a very vulnerable time, some of it spent studying the Church itself to be sure that it is “worth” the giving of your life! Searching for God to show Himself enough to you to help the choice be clear and the resolve be firm.
    Much like those who lived through the height of the post-VII nonsense at their Masses, it might have been enough to make one wish to throw the baby out with the wash water.

  70. PostCatholic says:

    I respectfully suggest that’s incorrect, PA mom. I remained a Catholic for ten years more following my seminary experience, and studied much more theology, ecclesiology, church history and philosophy during that time, with increasing breadth beyond Catholicism. I found Paul Tillich and James Luther Adams particularly compelling once I’d given up on the notion of a transcendent deity.

    My leaving the Catholicism was more a fundamental shift away from belief in Christianity than anything to do with its (yes, corrupt in that time, and perhaps still in this) seminaries. As a seminarian I can honestly say I kept my head down, worked hard, prayed, and stayed out of the political and liturgical battles. It was a challenge to stay in seminary to be sure, but I was equal to it and my decision that Catholic clerical wasn’t for me took a lot of people by surprise and was met with a lot of disappointment.

    You may pray for me if you’d like; I view that as a kind and charitable action if not an efficacious one, and so I thank anyone who does. It would take something of an extraordinary divine intervention for me to give up on life-long principles held throughout my religious journey and return to Catholicism which repudiates some of those. But I should, I have already promised a classmate who is a priest that he may communicate me, and Rev. Zuhlsdorf offered to hold the paten beneath my chin.

    I’d like to return to my original point: This deacon has much more in common with you than she does not. Insulting her appearance, debating her psychological health without knowing her, and so on are not the actions of a people who profess to witness to love and hope.

  71. digdigby says:

    Yes post-Catholic…… “But for WALES?” oh, excuse me I meant to say “Unitarianism?”

  72. Centristian says:


    “Thanks, Centristan. I’m a him. I am a 40-something old former Catholic, former Catholic seminarian.”

    Well, we have a couple of things in common; I’m also a 40-something former seminarian (and, therefore, also a “him”). Although I’ve never been a “former” Catholic in any formal sense (I never joined another denomination), I did fall away from the practice of the Catholic faith for a long time and I’ve only relatively recently found my way back. Or rather, more accurately, the God that you don’t believe is real just sort of picked me up by the scruff of my neck one day without consulting me at all and dropped me back into it. I certainly wasn’t headed back on my own.

    So let me ask you this, you creep: how do you get away with becoming a UU having been a seminarian? The best (worst) I could do was ignore God; I couldn’t deny his existence, outright. You don’t really imagine that you can get away with poetry readings, gay men’s choir concerts, and interesting lectures in the company of fun and witty people at church forever, do you? Keep dreaming. The same thing that happened to me is going to happen to you (especially if you keep reading this blog).

    At any rate, deep down you believe in God. Let’s face it, a true non-believer would say that he grew up in Boston, not in the “Archdiocese of Boston” ;^)

    Later, gator.

  73. PA mom says:

    Dear Post Catholic,

    I admit to only wishing that people not move on to debating your “heretic” status, as I find your additions very interesting and thoughtful as well and hope they will continue. Your education level greatly exceeds mine, whether perfect or not, and I admit to having returned to my childhood faith at a childlike level, fascinated by it, reading about it and trying to experience it with an open mind, but not expecting to know the “why” of it all. While being constantly in the company of children helps this, it has been somewhat purposeful of me to continue it as long as it feels like it is serving the purpose of bringing me closer to heaven. I thought myself out of belief in God once for three days in my 20s and it was very depressing. I have no wish to do it again. Sure I’ll pray for you, but no more than for anyone else. We are agreed that we respond with greater Charity than to debate this person as a medical curiosity.

  74. Chris Jones says:


    Is there a clause prohibiting Catholic priests from undergoing such operations?

    Indeed there is (or at least used to be). From the first canon of the first ecumenical council, the Council of Nicaea (of Nicene Creed fame):

    If any one in sickness has been subjected by physicians to a surgical operation, or if he has been castrated by barbarians, let him remain among the clergy; but, if any one in sound health has castrated himself, it is necessary that such an one, if already enrolled among the clergy, should cease from his ministry, and that from henceforth no such person should be promoted.

    I know that Roman Catholic canon law has gone through numerous revisions and codifications since this canon was promulgated in 325 AD; but I should be very surprised if those revisions did not leave this canon in force. But I am not a canon lawyer (nor even a Catholic) so I could be mistaken.

  75. I am disappointed with the way this has gone.

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