Repeat after me: The Pope is not Stalin.
I feel bad for the guy. He clearly misapprehends the nature of Catholicism ("The question is whether matters at the heart of controversy and dissent within the Church [contraception, women priests, celibacy and homosexuality] can even be discussed and debated"). No, Andrew, they cannot. I'm sorry. You either accept the 2,000 year-old, Scripture-and-Tradition based teachings of the Church in this regard, or you do not. It fundamentally misstates the very idea of Catholicism, let alone orthodox Christianity, to imagine that if we really, really want to, we can just change everything at the drop of a hat.
Do (ex-Church, in Andrew's case) liberals even understand what they're saying? Do they really think they're demanding and asking and pushing for something new?
Problem is, so many of them are Marxists, so they view all of this in terms of power structures. The pope and bishops have power, and use it to oppress the laity; the laity should have the power, because, well, they're the laity.
Do any of them ever read any of the documents from Vatican II? I'd expect smears like this from loonies like Matt Yglesias (no link, see Marshall, Joshua), but from self-professed Catholics who claim JP2 is corrupting Vatican II, might it not be the tiniest bit of a good idea to actually read the work that came out of that infallible Ecumenical Council?
Homework assignment for anyone reading this who thinks Andrew Sullivan is dead to rights on this: Actually read the whole library of documents that came from that Council. Then, if you think he's right, explain why. You can email me at the address right below this link. I'll post. Swear to Heaven.