Catholics/Unity in the Church
I have a friend who often points out people in the Church that disagree with essential teachings (ie contraception) and sees that as evidence of a lack of Unity. I know that we label these individuals as dissidents, but I cannot fight this nagging feeling in the back of my head that we are somehow committing the logical fallacy of special pleading. Could you please advise?
I would venture to guess that most Catholics by their words and actions dissent from one or more teachings of the Church. In our parish, there are a few very active Catholics who think same sex marriage should be permitted. Needless to say, surveys show that more than half of American Catholics believe priests should be free to marry. And as far as the social teachings of the church are concerned, very few Catholics are willing to give up their second car or provide a room for someone who is homeless. Since we are all "dissenters" over something, how does that impact unity? Jesus prayed for unity among his followers, but if you read the Acts of the Apostles and the other writings, there were controversies even in the early Church. So what is unity anyway, the kind Jesus wanted us to have? I think Pope Francis tries to demonstrate this and preaches it as well; instead of looking at doctrinal conformity (important, of course) look at how we are working together to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said, "Love one another as I have loved you" -- the only "new" commandment he gave. If you measure unity by unity of purpose, we don't do so well there either, but at least even if you dissent from a doctrine (and after informing our consciences we may still find we are dissenting in which case we are supposed to follow our consciences) you can still actively work to bring about the Kingdom.
I know that's not a great answer, but the bottom line is, how do you define unity? I can't think of a definition that actually describes the current (or past) state of the Church, unless you say "baptized in the Catholic Church" or something like that.