I wrote this as a comment in the last post on this blog (see, I got it right this time, Tom!), but I think it deserves a separate posting (especially as the comments there have reached 29 already).
The difference, I believe, lies in this:
There are some things that a Catholic has the right to expect of the Church – and somethings he does not have a right to expect.
A Catholic has a right to expect that in the Catholic Church he will:
1) Hear Christ and his Gospel proclaimed
2) Learn the Scriptures
3) receive valid sacraments
4) receive pastoral care
5) be formed as a disciple of Christ
6) be catechised according to the Catholic faith
He has a right to expect that his pastors, his parish priest and his bishops, will:
1) celebrate the liturgy according to the rites of the church
2) be faithful to the law of the Church
3) preach and teach, uphold and defend the Catholic faith
4) govern wisely and responsibly in imitation of Christ and his apostles
5) live lives in accordance with Catholic morals.
Above all, he has the right to expect that the Church which calls herself “The Catholic Church” will BE “The Catholic Church” (at least to this degree, PE and Christine are correct and fully justified in their critique of the contemporary Church).
He does not have the right to expect that in the Catholic Church he will, with the Church’s blessing, be allowed to:
1) believe and teach what is contrary to the Catholic faith
2) behave in ways that are contrary to Catholic morals
3) alter the way in which the sacraments and liturgy of the Church are celebrated according to his own tastes or reasons
4) break or ignore the Church’s laws
5) attack and defame the Church’s pastors when they act to uphold the faith and morals of the Catholic Church
6) bring into doubt and question the teachings of the Catholic Church
7) claim authority which he has not received from Christ or his Church
8) teach as “God’s Word” that which God has not spoken.
Above all, a Catholic does not have the right to expect the Catholic Church to be anything other than what she is, namely, the Catholic Church.
In this, and in this alone, namely, in what a Catholic has a right to expect from the Catholic Church and what he does not have a right to expect, lies the essential difference between the cases of Ms Dickson and St Mary’s. She expected that the Catholic Church would provide her with something that she had a right to expect it would provide her. St Mary’s expect that they have a right to things which they do not have the right to expect the Church to provide them.