Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Liberal Catholics and Catholic Liberals

An interesting take on recent events at PewSitter.com:
... Thanks to new media, the rise of new faithful religious, the new Catechism, shifting winds, and/or some other positive phenomena including the Grace of God, there is an emerging group of faithful Catholics in the U.S. But the overwhelming majority of baptized Catholics still do not really hold the Faith. Mainly through a cultivated ignorance and the heartless reach of the modern cultural machine, most Catholics are now functional heretics. We have an almost entirely protestant church within our own disabled structures. This group is often labeled Cafeteria or “liberal” Catholics. The faithful minority persists and has vitality, but within that remnant population a large part (particularly in leadership) are “Catholic liberals.” That is to say that unlike “liberal Catholics,” they hold and profess the Faith without heresy, yet they remain philosophically and politically liberal to a great extent. “Catholic liberals” stand on Catholic principle but they fall down in application and practice as Cardinal O’Malley demonstrated in recent weeks.

A “Catholic liberal” is someone who may tell you that Faith is neither Liberal nor Conservative. This is true only to the extent that theological truth informs all others. Faith is higher than philosophy and of course above politics. But this does not mean, as virtually all people that say this imply, that there is much virtue in Liberalism and some big problems with Conservatism. Liberal ideals place little value on freedom or obedience to God, acting as if history should be re-played so that the Jews stayed in Egypt and the Commandments were left at Sinai. While many Catholic leaders ascribe unjust economic conditions to conservative hyper-capitalism, this is misleading. That kind of oppression grows from corporate-political alignments that build government and deny property rights. A free society is always less oppressive and property more widespread and abundant. Freedom is not a [tenet] of liberalism. although, license is.

“Right and Left” began when Christendom became moribund following the Protestant revolutions. Before the Church was pushed out of northern Europe and its role minimized in the remainder there was no right and left, only “right and wrong.” With the fall of Old Europe, a philosophical blindness ensued. The “Enlightenment” was not. Today civilization has been divided into two groups, neither of them spiritually guided by the Church. We can see applied Conservatism in the American Revolution and the British Empire, while Liberal principles are born out in the French Revolution, socialism, and fascism in our time. Though neither philosophical perspective reflects a complete Catholic mindset, Liberalism is the Church’s enemy.

Clearly one of the gentlest, most restrained, engaging and popular American Church leaders, O’Malley finally voiced where his contempt does fall when he rebuked the Catholics dismayed by the Kennedy funeral; an event that undermined every holy and good thing that the Cardinal’s life represents. After permitting a world-wide circus of scandal and contemptible moments in praise of Ted Kennedy and his agenda, O’Malley finally wielded the Bishops’ spiritual sword for something. Striking back at the “vindictive…angry” Catholics who reject “mercy, unity and the ability to change hearts,” the Cardinal took a hard line. What was the last straw? In decrying the funeral, faithful Catholics challenged the only thing Cardinal O’Malley will stand for when it counts, his liberalism.
There is much in the editorial with which I disagee, but I do find the distinction the author makes between "liberal Catholics" and "Catholic liberals" to be enlightening and fairly accurate.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
With All Due Respect, Redux [UPDATED]

With All Due Respect ... [UPDATED]

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At 9/08/2009 1:17 PM, Anonymous Paul Zummo said...

Yeah, the anti-liberal outrage was at 11 when it needed to be more like 8, but otherwise that's a good distinction.


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