A.W.Richard Sipe

This is one of the saddest essays I have ever committed to paper.
It may be called my last Roman Catholic will and testament.
Most of the time we concede authority to a church to declare what
teaching is heretical because it deviates from established norms.
Over the centuries that judgment has been the basis for dissident
churches to form and incorporate their own institutional system of
faith and morals. Some reform movements remain within the
institution, challenging established custom or practice they deem
deviate from earliest Christian ideals.
The history of Christianity is the history of “heresy”. The criterion has
been the deviation or conformity with Roman Catholic orthodoxy and
authority: Montanist , Donatist, Albigenses, Anabaptist, Quietism, and
Protestantism, etc. have all waged doctrinal war against issues of
Catholic faith and morals and consolidated their adherents into rival
sects or religious faith. (*Ronald Knox)
What if the church that one believes in is teaching false or aberrant
doctrine or morals, but there is no real impetus to establish a new
institution or church? What if one lacks motivation, energy or desires
to reform the institution?
Currently that is the Catholic Situation. Abandonment of practice or
affiliation is the most common solution of U.S. Catholics to their faith
dilemma. Men and women brought up and even well educated in
Catholic doctrine and practice have simply walked away from

One-third of Roman Catholics in the U.S. consider themselves “ex
Catholics”. (*Pew 2015) Disaffection with mainline Christian faiths
and Evangelicals is also recorded.
Reasons for disillusion among all Christians may share elements in
common, but RC interests need to take a look at the beam in its eye.

One major reason for this Catholic Situation concerns sex and the
false, unbelievable teaching about human sexuality that church
authority insists is official.



moral doctrine teaches masturbation is
intrinsically evil. This position is indefensible. Despite the pastoral
rationales employed to make discussions seem reasonable the basic
stance of church teaching is based on an erroneous understanding
of Natural Law. Wasting the seed was the argument against, self￾abuse or pollution as masturbation was labeled and condemned.
Some of the rulings from Vatican offices about masturbation are
comic and ridiculous. For instance, their logic of its inherent evil
forbids masturbation even in obtaining a specimen for medical
Their solution: a man must have intercourse with his wife wearing a
condom that is perforated with a pinhole. Thus he can collect his
semen for study and preserve the integrity of sex.
A physician can perform a prostatic manipulation to obtain a
specimen from the single man.
According to this logic rape is a more moral—natural—act than


The church uses this same mistaken understanding of natural law as
a basis to claim that artificial birth control (pills, IUD, or 10 other
options) is also intrinsically evil. This prohibition includes any use of a
condom—even to protect from the possibility of the spread of HIV
Any and all sexual activity outside of a valid marriage is also
ruled a grave sin. This extends to serious occasions of sin. Courtship
and preparation for marriage become a moral farce under such
The same prohibition applies to widowed or divorced men and women


Roman Catholic teaching about sex is dominated and obsessed with
concern over sexual pleasure. While in seminary training there were
unending discussions about nocturnal emissions. Was it a grave sin if
one awoke enough during the event to enjoy it? Parallel endless
questions about the gravity of “French kissing” and “how far” an
unmarried couple could go without committing a mortal sin dominated
RC sex education talks.
Priests teach sin resides in pleasure. Orgasms have to be controlled
at all costs, even at the sacrifice of reason, justice and honesty. Who
is in control of sin and forgiveness? Clergy, of course, in the eyes of
the Church.
The reality and quality of human relationships are discounted or


Homosexual sex and love fall under the same church interdict of
intrinsic evil—an “inclination to an intrinsic evil”. That stance renders
the homosexually or lesbian oriented person more defective than
other humans saddled merely with original sin.
Certainly there is a long tradition of naming homosexuality “against
nature”. We now know enough now about human sexual nature that
for some men and women same-sex love, association, and sexual
exchange is natural and should be judged and governed by the same
social and responsible behavior as men and woman who have a
heterosexual orientation and relationship.
The hypocrisy of Vatican teaching about homosexual orientation and
behavior is so blatant that any thinking and informed person knows of
its existence and its frequent occurrence and preponderance among
the hierarchy of the RC Church.
A concomitant psychological problem among the RC hierarchy
(based in hypocrisy) is their sociopathy. The institution supports,
advances, rewards and protects leaders who blatantly and/or secretly
act out their characterological pathology with men, women, money or power

A well-regarded priest suggested that one solution would be for 100
celibately observant homosexual priests to identify themselves
publically. (Fr. Thomas Resse, S.J. at Santa Clara U., 2012)
He is correct. It will take public declarations to save and reform the
Catholic priesthood and to insure its integrity.
Freud’s (1935 letter) mature view of homosexuality is far more
reliable than any scriptural arguments used as a basis for disdain or
“May I question you why you avoid it? Homosexuality is assuredly no
advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no
degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be
a variation of the sexual function.…Many highly respectable
individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals,
several of the greatest men among them. (Plato, Michelangelo,
Leonardo da Vinci, etc). It is a great injustice to persecute
homosexuality as a crime–and a cruelty, too.”
I add from my study of history and psychology that some of the most
notable saints—women and men—in the Catholic Church roster were
either homosexual or bisexual in orientation. Even if at their time they
could not name that entity they were unstintingly honest with
themselves. Saints are not hypocrites.

The patent hypocrisy of clerical sexual practice and behavior in
contrast to the teaching and control church authority impose on other
members of the Christian community is unsustainable to hordes of
Catholic people. The situation is evidence based.


c clerical training and
structure. In short, the culture produces, encourages, fosters and
protects a certain element among its membership who abuse—often
with impunity and rationalized as no real offence or a minor sin at
most. “Father is only human” or “Everyone sins” are commonly heard
excuses in clerical circles.
Well-publicized efforts at preventing clergy abuse and protecting
children—even the current Vatican Commission—will inevitably come
to nothing if the structure and function of clerical culture remain
Highly touted efforts by U.S. bishops to protect minors from abuse by
clergy so far are essentially window dressings rather than reforms.


Many years ago a major religious superior who had just retuned from
his required visit to Rome said: “The organization to which I belong is
corrupt from the top down.”It has taken me a long time, much study
and devotion to submit to his judgment.


is an antique attitude and a current
reality in the culture and operation of the RC Church. Nuns even
when I was a boy were treated like slave labor. Their compensation
was minimal. When I was a boy their full time teaching (and labor like
scrubbing the church floor on their hands and knees) received $25.00
a month.
It might be argued that their station has improved over the decades,
but the evidence that religious women lack a status equal to men is
so obvious it needs no argument. Until women have a status, respect and authority equal to men within the institution the RC church will not
be the Church of Jesus Christ where “There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then
you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise”
Those who use Scripture to justify teaching on the “inherent”
connection between sex and sin should remember that there is more
scriptural justification for slavery and stoning of adulterous women
(not men) than onanism and sodomy.
I do not leave the Catholic Church. Were I Jewish I could not leave
my birth right. But I cannot embrace or propagate the moral tenets its
authority insists are essential for membership.
I join St. Paul and all of Christ’s followers who are free of the laws of
the modern Scribes and Pharisees. I reject the Roman Catholic
Church’s sexual heresies.
I love my brothers and sisters who are still bound to the institutions
that are shackled to that authority, but are internally conscience-free
for their particular reasons and circumstance.
I am one with those who are part of a Church but state: Here I stand,
I can no other. June 15, 2015