Liberal Protestantism and Liberal Catholicism

Catholic liberals (by which I mean theological liberals, not political liberals) never cease to amaze me. On the one hand, they appear to have a sincere devotion to their religion. On the other, they campaign for moral and theological changes that, if carried into effect, would tend to destroy their Church.
Why do I say this? Because the history of Protestantism has made it perfectly clear what happens when a Christian church turns liberal or modern. Unless a Catholic is quite unfamiliar with the sad history of liberal Protestantism, he would not call for the theological liberalization or modernization of Catholicism.
In America, liberal Protestantism has always had three characteristics: (1) It is an attempt to find a compromise or via media between traditional Christianity and the fashionable anti-Christianity of the day. (2) In seeking this compromise, it drops certain traditional Christian beliefs as so much excess baggage. (3) To atone, so to speak, for this weakening of doctrine, it intensifies its moral commitments.
Three great “moments” in the history of American liberal Protestantism illustrate what I mean here. The first was the emergence of Unitarianism in the first quarter of the 19th century. The fashionable anti-Christianity of the day was Deism — as found, for instance, in one of the writings of Tom Paine (The Age of Reason). So Unitarianism, in pursuit of a via media, dropped the Trinity, the Divinity of Christ, Original Sin, and a few other Christian doctrines. To make up for these discards, it strongly committed itself to the anti-slavery cause.
The second moment was the emergence of Modernism at the close of the 19th century and the opening of the 20th, at a time when the fashionable form of anti-Christianity was Agnosticism (e.g., Herbert Spencer and Thomas Henry Huxley in England, and, in the United States, that skeptical windbag Robert Ingersoll). Modernistic Protestantism did not, like the earlier Unitarians, openly reject traditional doctrines so much as it affirmed its beliefs in these doctrines in an equivocal way. For instance, your modernistic Protestant would claim to believe in the Trinity, the Divinity of Christ, the Resurrection, etc.; but when you carefully examined what he meant by these beliefs, you would find that he didn’t really hold them at all. Instead, he believed in something else, but he twisted the meaning of the traditional Christian phrases so that they would apply to his new and very non-traditional beliefs. (Many liberal Protestants –Marcus Borg, for example — do the same thing today.) To make up for this casting off of doctrine, the modernist had a strong commitment to the “social gospel.”
The third moment was the response to the Sexual Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s. This Revolution was the then-fashionable form of anti-Christianity, and it remains the fashion today. Liberal Protestantism, searching as ever for a via media, gave its conditional blessing to premarital sex, unmarried cohabitation, abortion, homosexuality, and — more recently — same-sex marriage. I say “conditional” because, instead of giving a blanket endorsement to these practices, as anti-Christians did, liberal Protestantism said it would endorse them only when those undertaking them did so in a thoughtful, prayerful, and loving way. In this third moment, the intensification of moral commitments no longer has to do with corollaries of Christian morality — as in the earlier cases of abolitionism and social justice — but with a strong commitment to elements of an anti-Christian sexual morality.
Liberal Protestants of any one generation have always said something like this: “We’ll discard elements A, B, and C of traditional Christianity, but no more; we’ll stop there.” But the next generation says: “If our parents could drop ABC, we’ll drop DEF — but we’ll stop there.” Of course, it never stops. Once the “right to drop” is embraced, eventually everything will be dropped.
For the better part of 200 years, then, liberal Protestantism has been emptying itself of Christian content. First it got rid of Christian doctrinal content; more recently it has got rid of Christian moral content. Of course the liberals will claim that they have got rid of the inessential “over-beliefs” of Christianity and have boiled the religion down to its essential content, namely love of neighbor. That this love of neighbor largely consists of tolerating and encouraging what Christianity has always counted as serious sin is a reductio ad absurdum of that claim.
Who can be surprised, then, that the Protestant denominations that have been seriously infected with liberalism (the so-called “mainline churches”) are rapidly declining in numbers, not just in relation to the national population generally but even in absolute numbers?
And who can be surprised that American Catholicism, many of whose members turned in a theologically liberal direction after Vatican II, is also declining? The Catholic decline, to be sure, is masked by the sloppy way in which American Catholicism counts its members. You’re counted as a Catholic if you were baptized Catholic. That means that millions and millions of people are counted as Catholic who are quite indifferent, and in many cases downright hostile, to Catholicism. If, more realistically, we count as Catholic only those who continue to be somewhat serious about the religion — for example, by going to church once a week — we’ll see that there has been a steep decline.
Those Catholics who are not ignorant of the history of liberal Protestantism cannot, if they are honest with themselves, favor the theological liberalization of Catholicism. But, of course, some historically well-informed people are not honest with themselves, while vast numbers of Catholics — including many Catholic priests and more than a few Catholic bishops — are immensely ignorant of the history of liberal Protestantism. And so Catholicism in America continues to slide downhill.

 

By

David R. Carlin Jr. is a politician and sociologist who served as a Democratic majority leader of the Rhode Island Senate. His books include "Can a Catholic Be a Democrat?: How the Party I Loved Became the Enemy of My Religion" and "The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America." Carlin is a current professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island at Newport.

  • James

    Well, let’s see… As a Catholic in America, I and my family have had to endure decades of liberal wacko priests and nuns, who cherish and relish repudiating Catholic (and Christian) beliefs – wrt marriage, sex, family, the priesthood, man and woman, the 10 Commandments, along with watered down and politically corrected Catholic education classes, etc. etc. Then, we’ve had to endure one of the most vicious homoabuse scandals EVER to plague any institution, with thousands of (mostly) teenage boys sodomized and body-and soul-damaged by priests. (And let’s not forget about the 1 1/2 BILLION paid out to the poor families of those whose sons were molested.) And then, even in the ‘orthodox’ parishes, we’ve had to endure never actually hearing about any of the tough issues, even though our kids are growing up in one of the most debauched and depraved and morally relativistic societies ever.

    So, I pray AND hope that ‘liberal’ Catholicism (i.e. fake, evil Catholicism) will die.

    I yearn for a Church where you don’t cause a fight when you actually state what the Church teaches and believes, and where our children aren’t lied to by those who head the Church, and where Church leaders actually place the innocence and well-being of the next generation above everything else.

    I’m still waiting.

    James

  • Mike

    It seems a bit circular to say Liberal Christians who embraced the sexual revolution have a strong commitment to those sexual mores. I think a better way to keep the parallels with Unitarianism and Modernism would be to say that the misdirection practiced by those embracing the sexual revolution is a strong commitment to environmental protection. This has almost morphed environmentalism in to replacement religion for Liberal Christianity.

  • Rick

    Right on, James.

    The man in the pew is subjected to a variety of abuse — bad liturgy, the end of liturgical music, heresy during the sermon (worst case), bland sermons that say nothing (usual case), a group of bishops that A) gave away millions because of the sex scandal and then B) give away millions to ACORN. Gee, thanks….may I have another!

    I pray and hope. Pope Benedict has been a light in the darkness.

  • Sid

    Mr. Carlin has written a good article about American “Liberal” Protestantism and its take-over of many Catholics in the post Vatican II period. He didn’t have time or space for the longer history, save for his correct observations about the Anglo-Saxon version of Socinianism: the Unitarians. In fact, “Liberal” Protestantism (better: “Protestant Modernism”) has been around since the days of the man who cost Nietzsche and Feuerbach their faith: David Strau

  • Roseanne Sullivan

    You said it! Substitute “liberal Catholicism” and modify the time span, and you’ve got a good summary of what I saw when I came back to the Catholic Church. (I lapsed in the mid 60s and relapsed in the mid 70s.) It was very painful to see the destruction. Most Catholics seemed to believe that most doctrines had been wrong until the liberal theologians had figured out what the truth was in the middle of the 20th century. It took me years to find Catholics who still believed the truth.

    You wrote:
    For the better part of 200 years, then, liberal Protestantism has been emptying itself of Christian content. First it got rid of Christian doctrinal content; more recently it has got rid of Christian moral content. Of course the liberals will claim that they have got rid of the inessential “over-beliefs” of Christianity and have boiled the religion down to its essential content, namely love of neighbor. That this love of neighbor largely consists of tolerating and encouraging what Christianity has always counted as serious sin is a reductio ad absurdum of that claim.

  • Nathan Cushman

    I always find this strange:

    I and my family have had to endure decades of liberal wacko priests and nuns, who cherish and relish repudiating Catholic (and Christian) beliefs – wrt marriage, sex, family, the priesthood

    I guess I’ve just been lucky, or is the Catholic Church stronger in the Western U.S.?

    I’ve never seen a clearly unorthodox priest or nun teaching anything in any Catholic parish I’ve attended. I’ve heard some watered-down stuff, and I’ve heard priests mis-state things. But I’ve never seen anything plainly opposed to church teaching.

    The worst I’ve had is a priest who said Catholics are not “born again.” But in this case the problem was actually that he was saying something different from what he meant. I could tell because he was normally orthodox. Also, another one of our priests corrected him the next week.

    That said, I have heard the news stories about the bad priests, and I know they’re out there. I just wonder if some of the complaints online are overblown.

    Just about every priest I’ve had (for long enough to hear a variety of homilies) has taught against sexual immorality, abortion, cohabitation, and many other issues. They have also taught in support of uniquely Catholic beliefs.

    Yeah, it’d be great if they were all bold and powerful. I’ve had a few priests who were better, bolder, speakers, and it did make a difference. But it does seem most of the others are trying to do their best to proclaim the truth.

    Anyway, I tend to think we’re better off trying to help our Church spread the truth than making generalized complaints about our priests and bishops (complaints about specific things that our specific priests and bishops are doing that are clearly wrong are another matter).

    Of course, it would be quite difficult to help spread the truth if your own pastor was blocking your progress…

  • EricG
  • EricG
  • Beth

    I too have not experienced the decades of liberal wacko priests and nuns that James speaks of. I am surrounded by Catholics that are more ultra-orthodox and traditional that I am. I was raised in CCD which was taught by a very orthodox nun.

  • DJP

    Liberal Catholicism is seeking its last hurrah, and unbeknownest to most of us, they have become organized and almost secretive in seeking ways to impose their ideals of reform and their way of understanding the Gospel upon the institutional church. Consider some of these observations:

    1) A nun in Milwaukee, WI writes the local Catholic paper supporting abortion, even calling it a divine choice. Obviously, she associates with people in the church who agree with her, because why would a professed religious make such a public statement? Her views are so wide spread among progressive women religious today that I would guess most wouldn’t even consider abortion a bad choice. This is why they like the seamless garment issue. It gives them cover. This is also why our Catholic universities are hot beds for the pro-choice movement. This is also why the president of Trinity College in Hartford, CT implied in a major local newspaper that a vote for Obama was a vote for choice and that she supported Obama.

    2) Most websites of progressive women communities focus on saving either water bottles or walking in their labyrnith. Their mission statements say little about their religious commitment to Jesus and to the Church, and they say almost nothing about their fidelity to the Church. I find it interesting that they would do almost anything to save plastic bottles but would do or would say almost nothing about defending unborn babies. In most cases, pictures of their liturgies exclude males, especially priests. What about the Eucharist? What ever happen to Catholic culture within their covents and monasteries? It doesn’t exist anymore. I used to think that things would change if their wore a habit. Why would we want these sisters wearing a veil? It would just confuse and scandalize more people. Thank God they don’t wear habits!

    3) The Leadership Conference of Women Religious – read their press statements, their postings online, and you will encounter a far left conspiracy to join political forces of those who oppose the basic teachings of the Catholic Church. Granted, they are trying to find ways to reach out to the institutional church, but they vow until their deaths that they will never compromise on their beliefs that the Church is wrong about abortion, wrong about women priests, and wrong about sexual relationships outside of traditional marriage. If you put their leaders in a national databse you will find the authors and leaders of various far left movements within the church.

    4) The far Catholic left is planning a major meeting sometime next year to create strategies in opposing the church and ways to support the Obama adminsitration. They are very clear in their goals and they hope to join the likes of Catholics for Choice, National Catholic Reporter, The Catholic Alliance for the Common Good, et all – in one effort to oppose official church teachings. They have already begun their defense, such as in the recent defense of FOCA or at least trying to defuse any concerns about FOCA being passed. The head of the Catholic Hospitals said that FOCA will not force Catholic hospitals to close. I say they won’t close because our bishops will cave into those political forces who will justify doing these illegal procedures because they will be convinced by the far left that keeping the hospitals open, despite performing abortions, is the best of the two choices. Do you really think that most Catholic hospitals and their staffs really care about NOT performing abortions? Who would have thought that a bishop would just express regret that hospitals in his dicoese were doing procedures against the teachings of the church and the response of the CATHOLIC hospital is complete silence.

    4) We must accept that the church has had for 4 decades both men and women who have opposed the basic teachings of our church, and they are often our pastoral leaders, our RCIA directors, our parish administrators, our university presidents, and leaders of various chancellories throughout the country. They are quiet but are very determined. Instead, of proclaiming that Jesus is Lord I believe that they have proclaimed themselves the saviors of the world.

    Pray for our church.

  • Randy

    one thing I’d quibble with is this statement: “To atone, so to speak, for this weakening of doctrine, it intensifies its moral commitments.” This isn’t true only of liberal Protestantism, it’s also true of evangelicalism. Evangelicalism is basically moralism, with a few doctrinal points thrown in and no context (like the Papacy or the Church). And evangelicalism have more than met the modernist culture halfway: they’ve embraced it. And on top of that, evangelicals invented “seeker churches,” which have dumbed down doctrine even more. So I think both sides of the Protestant population have done their best to reduce Christianity to meaningless platitudes along with questionable doctrinal positions or none at all. It’s not just the liberals.

  • James

    The two biggest weaknesses of the Catholic Church today in America are the never-ending outrageous tolerance for outrageous things – bishops who moved molesters all over the place, and are still in their positions – various dissident groups and priests, who are always organizing and confusing our youth – ‘Catholic’ universities that openly promote and glorify horrific sins – CCD programs that are so watered down that they are almost meaningless – bishops who tolerate priests who never take on the culture, etc. etc. etc. etc. AND (secondly) – the cowardice of so many priests – to never talk about the unpopular parts of God’s revelation to us.

    The truth is – if someone (like the POPE) actually cracked down on the abuses and outrages (like that’s gonna happen) – and the rest of the priests preached the Gospel (in its fullness) unabashed and unafraid, the Church would grow dramatically, draw in thousands of new orthodox priests, and would shine like a light unto the world.

    The American Catholic Church is just afraid. It’s too afraid, in fact, to ‘Be not afraid.’

    What a shame.

    I hope and pray that it changes – but I’ll tell ya – it’s been painful raising our kids in the Church in the last couple of decades. Really, really painful.

    James

  • BenK

    “Evangelicalism is basically moralism”

    This is quite far from the truth. Evangelicals primarily concern themselves with the great commission; which as they see it is the sole purpose of this apparent interregnum between the cross/empty tomb and the ‘end times.’ They believe that by hook or crook, they need to get as many people ‘in the kingdom’ as possible. There are within this group essentially two camps; those that believe that a quick prayer is the first of two goals of evangelism – the other is that person going out to get people to pray the same prayer – and those who believe that a high moral standard is the necessary sign of effective conversion and thus teaching these morals is the goalpost in evanglicalism (a sort of reduction of reformed theology). That second group is the target of the above statement.

    Now, there is a third group, the liberalizing evangelicals, who think they are too smart for either of the above positions and thus invent a new disaster – moralism is too harsh, the point of morals is to be attractive to potential converts – and conversion is so ‘impersonal’ and objectifying, unless it makes the person happy… loving the person, that person’s happiness, is the real goal. This embraces all that is wrong with utilitarianism, but they don’t see that.

    It is ok to see the flaws in various christian or sub-christian sects, but we should be careful not to mischaracterize them. Criticize people for what they really do wrong.

  • James

    “We must accept that the church has had for 4 decades both men and women who have opposed the basic teachings of our church, and they are often our pastoral leaders, our RCIA directors, our parish administrators, our university presidents, and leaders of various chancellories throughout the country. They are quiet but are very determined. Instead, of proclaiming that Jesus is Lord I believe that they have proclaimed themselves the saviors of the world.”

    Bingo, DJP. It’s the sin of Eve (Did God reaaaaaaaaaly say?) over and over and over again, right within the Church herself.

    James

  • James

    You can tell the state of the American Catholic Church by the majority of ‘Catholics’ who voted for a man for president who thinks it OK to let babies die of exposure after they’re born.

    We’re deep into evil here – and a LOT of Catholics are complicit in it.

    James

  • Timothy

    Thanks for this article. I grew up in the Catholic Church during the 80s in the rural midwetst. It certainly was not a hotbed for liberalism. However,the Chruch did not seem to stand for much of anything, all fluff and not meat on the bone. Also, the music was and with few exceptions, the music was Horrible!

  • Timothy

    I don’t think the Church in America has begun to grasp the truly steep, steep decline in the Church. If my family is indicative of other Catholic families experiences, the situation is dire. I come from German American Catholics on both sides. Many priests in the family tree and previous generations were very devout and orthodox. However, my generation of family(and for that matter my parents), many family members have left the church. Half my cousins no longer consider themselves Catholic and a number worship at the “church” of feminism(abortion is good). Depply concenred, not only about my relatives’ souls, but the larger Church here and elsewhere in the West. Our Catholic brothers and sisters in other parts of the world(e.g Philippines) have not been infected by modernism and still love the Virgin Mary, believe in the Real Prescence. etc.

  • EricG

    John Paul 2, we love you!

    . . .

    NOT!

  • Fred

    …aren’t *we* also to blame? How many of us (I say “us”, not “you”) are willing to espouse the things we have been saying in this forum *outside* of a Catholic website, or not in seclusion somewhere among two or three other like-minded Catholics? OUR FOREFATHERS WERE HANGED, SKINNED, BURNED, SHOT WITH ARROWS, LOATHED, AND CRUCIFIED yet continued to spread the gospel and bring souls into Holy Mother Church. I sometimes turn red from embarrassment even *thinking* about interjecting a gospel-oriented comment during a political discussion for fear of being scorned. Perhaps what’s even more necessary than a Novena for pro-life politicians (done in anonymity and in the seclusion of our bedroom) is a novena for lay evangelization. Mary said “yes” and cooperated with God’s grace under fear of excommunication or even stoning, and thereby gave birth to God’s Word made flesh. Perhaps we, in full cooperation with the Holy Spirit, and with full faith in the promises of Christ, can withstand condescension, lay suits, and possibly even jail to return our brothers, cousins, and even our priests and bishops, into full communion with the Bride of Christ. Pray for me!

  • Ann

    If the bishops and priests started talking about all the hot issues (contraception, divorce, abortion, you name it), the churches would clear out so fast and there would be about five people left.

    The question is, how do they want to be relevant? If they drive almost everyone out, say bye-bye to any political power they thought they had. But maybe the truth is that the Church really doesn’t have any political power anymore anyway, when pro-choice pols are presenting themselves for Communion.

    The culture won IMO. The question is, what do we want to do about it in our own personal lives.

  • James

    “If the bishops and priests started talking about all the hot issues (contraception, divorce, abortion, you name it), the churches would clear out so fast and there would be about five people left.”

    Actually, Ann, that is untrue. A fair share would leave, but a huge lot would stay. And that huge lot would be able to grow the Church in truth, honesty, love, goodness and hope.

    The Church makes a huge mistake by being so afraid. Lukewarm doesn’t do it, according to Scripture. It’s not meant to.

    James

  • R.C.

    Ben:

    “Evangelicalism is basically moralism”

    This is quite far from the truth…It is ok to see the flaws in various christian or sub-christian sects, but we should be careful not to mischaracterize them. Criticize people for what they really do wrong.

    Thank you, sir. Your analysis there is entirely accurate.

    Those of us who met Our Lord through an Evangelical or Fundamentalist upbringing, and who then (usually through investigation of church history) find the greater depth and fullness of the faith in the Catholic Church, wince when we hear some of the stereotypes or mis-impressions held by other Catholics about Evangelicalism.

    This goes both ways, of course! Though as a child I never heard anything bad about Catholicism in my Baptist church — or about Coptic Monophysitism, for that matter; they were equally exotic-seeming irrelevancies one associated with other parts of the world, so why waste breath criticizing them? — I do understand that in other fundamentalist churches there are some huge despicable whoppers told about Catholicism. The distortions should stop! But they should stop on both sides, even if one side is more guilty than the other. (“Mommmm! He started it!”)

    Evangelicals are often in a state-of-affairs similar to that you’d have if you’d been raised marooned on a desert island with a priest who was in deep error on a few things, mild error on some others, and who was orthodox on the remainder. Yes, there’d be things missing, things wrong. (If he improperly confected the sacrament, you might be in an identical state to Evangelicals.)

    But, being raised with it, would you know what was missing or wrong? And, as you sang out the Apostles’ Creed with all your heart and read the Bible daily to find out how you should live, to what degree would God’s grace be impeded (!) by the error of your island-bound priest? (Theological question I can’t answer: There is such a thing as “baptism of desire”; is there a “Eucharist of desire?” Probably not, but one wonders.)

    Evangelicals read C.S.Lewis’ Mere Christianity and find themselves saying, “Yes, that’s it: I want to practice ‘the faith that has been common to most Christians at most times and in most places.'” …and they do their best to get it out of their local Evangelical congregation and minister, as you would, on that desert island.

    That “the faith that has been common to most Christians at most times and in most places” might have anything to do with Catholicism, and that the Catholic Church might be in any way unique in that regard, did not enter my imaginings until I was thirty-five, by which time I had been seriously pursuing Christian apologetics and music ministry for twenty years.

    Then I managed to find out what Christianity was like “off the island,” and was shocked to find out a few things I’d always thought were true, weren’t so. Okay, so Our Lord has a sense of humor! …but anyone who says I was living nothing but empty moralism until that time may contend with Our Lord about it, and He will instruct them otherwise.

    And of course there are miraculous healings, miraculous answers to prayer, exorcisms, and similar things happening amongst serious (that is, not theologically liberal) evangelicals, just as there are among Catholics. (A friend of my mother’s was permanently healed of multiple sclerosis.) So apparently the Holy Spirit, while grieved by the separation, is gracious enough to not leave earnest separated Christians completely in the lurch, beyond supernatural aid, just because they made the mistake of trusting the teachings of preachers who didn’t know any better.

    Anyhow, Ben, thank you.

  • Ann

    James, I agree. I shouldn’t say they all would leave. We don’t know the number that would. I would say a substantial portion would. But it would be better in the long run, I agree.

  • R.C.

    Ann:

    If the bishops and priests started talking about all the hot issues (contraception, divorce, abortion, you name it), the churches would clear out so fast and there would be about five people left.

    Sorry, but I respectfully have to disagree with you on this.

    If you look at the Evangelical world, the churches which are losing members are precisely the ones that don’t make much in the way of moral and theological demands on their parishoners; the ones which aren’t in any way countercultural.

    The ones which do preach even the hard sayings of Christ and the apostles are the churches which find themselves swelling into megachurches sometimes to their own surprise.

    Don’t misunderstand me: Mere harshness doesn’t produce church growth. Excellence in the work being done (in excellent video and audio production, for example, which is our era’s equivalent of having gilt altars and cloth-of-gold), and stylistic relevance are also hallmarks.

    Still, among the evangelical churches, the churches which are shrinking are those most in-tune with the leadership of the old mainline denominations. Why? Easy: It’s because in those churches, the clergy shock the laity with their unbelief, rather than vice-versa. And such a state-of-affairs is no reason to get out of bed on Sunday morning.

    So, no. If the Catholic clergy were seen as being a mite fundamentalist (!!!), I don’t think that’d hurt attendance at all. How could it? It’s not as if press coverage could get any less flattering than it already is!

    In fact, the current state of popular culture’s view of the Catholic Church can be best described as follows: The less-muscular of the U.S. Bishops have given us all the disadvantages of theological liberalism, while garnering none of the rewards of social acceptability, because, after all, it’s still the Catholic Church.

  • R.C.

    Ann,

    While I was typing that last reply, it looks as if James already responded to you, making a similar point (and more concisely!), and you replied in agreement to him.

    So, sorry for jumping in a day (hour) late and a dollar short (or, six hundred words too long).

  • James

    The Benedictine motto is: “Prune it, and it will grow.”

    Sadly, no one seems to ever do any pruning whatsoever in the Catholic church – often not even of evil.

    The grapevine is unhealthy, and needs careful and loving pruning to grow throughout the world.

    James

  • Ann

    No problem R.C.! I enjoyed reading what you wrote and I agree.

    I do think there would be a bit of a mass exodus at first if bishops and priests started making people uncomfortable by actually reminding them about church doctrine once in a while. Maybe not abortion, but contraception!

    I almost fell off my pew during mass for the Immaculate Conception yesterday when the priest actually commented how the church would be so much more crowded if it was Christmas, yet in the eyes of the church, Christmas is not more holy than any other holy day.

    It’s a start.

  • PerryJ

    The last election proves that Cathlocism is in trouble in the west. It was very clear that a vote for Obama was to cooperate with evil yet over 50% of Catholics did it. True most were Catholics that do not go to Church; however, that also demonstrates the weakness of our faith. We can only pray that God using Catholic Answers, EWTN and the Pope can bring true Catholics back. I am still greatly saddened by Catholics that ignored facts to vote for Obama and the murder of millions. Now Obama is going to fund UNFPA and their forced abortions and sterilization of woman. Truly barbaric.

  • Rustler45

    You should all read LIBERALISM IS A SIN by Fr.(Dr.)Don Felix Sarda Y Salvany. It is the definitive work on liberalism. It was written in the 1800s by a Spanish priest. You will be amazed at what he has to say. It reads as if he wrote it today. It is mandatory for anyone wanting to understand, write about, or discuss liberalism. It is easy reading and not especially long.

    INTRODUCTION
    Few errors have so firmly entrenched themselves for so long a time as has the Error of Liberalism. Few sins have been so misunderstood as has been the Sin of Liberalism. In reprinting this timely book, first printed in English in 1899, we hope to enlighten Catholics as to the causes and effect of and remedies for Liberalism.

    You can read the entire book online at:

    http://tinyurl.com/6sym9d

    You can also go to my forum and read the articles I have posted on “Marxism, Communism, Socialism, and Liberalism.”

    http://tinyurl.com/6hpxp6

    There are two especially good articles there by Fr. Hardon, who explains how we in the U.S. have become Marxists.

  • Bob

    Go volunteer and hang with the Missionaries of Charity…..there’s beautiful Catholicism in practice there.

    I agree, prune all that is evil from the Church. In John 6, when Christ stood tall on His teaching of the Eucharist, didn’t thousands that day find what He taught hard and walk away, leaving only 12 men?

    We need to hear the Truth and follow it, hard or not.

  • Nathan

    It’s a good article, except I would argue that Theological Liberals more often than not tend to be Political Liberals as well.

  • SteveB

    “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of Hell can never hold out against it.” Mat 16:17-19

    I can’t help but note that “we” are the Body and Christ the Head of His Church. It is Jesus that is quoted above, the Word of God. Since we must trust in God and believe His Word, I believe we should worry less and trust more. He will not let us down.

    The last 40+ years have seen much turmoil in the Church Militant, our earthly Catholic Church, but, as I see it, all is not lost, not even close.

    While people do leave, people come back also (i did). The Church leadership in America immediately following VII was abysmal. Disloyal, disobedient, lacking courage, sporting agendas, outnumbered if orthodox, etc. Conflicting views on doctrine, Canon Law, and catechism led to massive (and Mass) confusion. Don’t like one pastor’s view on contraception, a little “priest shopping” will fix that. A close look at this example finds both the Shepherd AND the Sheep at fault. Result: incursion of liberalism into the Church.

    More than 100 US Bishops spoke strongly about life issues and the recent election. Never happened before in recent history. These men are having an effect but you can’t undo 40+ years of mediocrity in a blink.

    I recently had the privilege of a long private conversation with three priests: one Franciscan from Kenya (working permanently in the US), my pastor, a US citizen from Vietnam, and an American. We discussed these very issues. I told them that, in my opinion, they (Clergy) were both the problem and the solution for the Church. They agreed. Further, with the now available texts of Canon Law and Catechism, there should be no problem getting the Faith “right”. Their one rejoinder: the laity has a responsibility also to learn the Faith and now has the tools to do so. How else can we raise questions, charitably of course, to the more liberal clergy and thus affect orthodox change.

    While liberalism is an evil, too often we, the sheep, have enabled it. There is hope, my brothers and sisters. God never fails in His promises, sometimes we just don’t live long enough to see them fulfilled. We must trust in God, prayer and the Sacraments…and a little evangelism.

  • Baby Rose

    I just spent (wasted) my time to reply to your article all to have it not go through. Why don’t you make it clear that REQUIRED: must also be deleted….as well as–delete this text. I was fine with it the way it was before. The fact that the text is erased and there is no second chance to properly “delete this text” is maddening.

    It was a nice post, but no one will have the benefit of it now.

  • Denise

    Our parish has a program called “Generations of Faith” that involves the whole family in deeply examining various aspects of our faith. This takes the place of traditional religious ed and has great benefits in strengthening families. However, I think it should NOT replace things like Sunday School and weekly CCD classes for those not in Catholic schools. It’s time to realize that weekly Sunday religious ed for the entire family isn’t just a Protestant quirk and add it to our traditional worship. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of time before Catholicism becomes the religion of rich white people who can afford to send their children to Catholic school. These liberal Protestant churches attract so many members, and they are willing to tell these members that it’s important to go to Sunday school and learn their doctrine. As Catholics, we need to have more education on traditional Catholic teachings in order to counter this liberal creep.

  • Nomilk

    A better name for the “right to drop” is the “right to choose.” That terminology has the dual advantages of being associated with the noxious pro-abortion movement and of reflecting the Greek origins of the word “heresy.”

  • gb

    WHAT FRED SAID:

    17) Yes, but…
    December 09th, 2008 | 7:32am
    …aren’t *we* also to blame? How many of us (I say “us”, not “you”) are willing to espouse the things we have been saying in this forum *outside* of a Catholic website, or not in seclusion somewhere among two or three other like-minded Catholics? OUR FOREFATHERS WERE HANGED, SKINNED, BURNED, SHOT WITH ARROWS, LOATHED, AND CRUCIFIED yet continued to spread the gospel and bring souls into Holy Mother Church. I sometimes turn red from embarrassment even *thinking* about interjecting a gospel-oriented comment during a political discussion for fear of being scorned. Perhaps what’s even more necessary than a Novena for pro-life politicians (done in anonymity and in the seclusion of our bedroom) is a novena for lay evangelization. Mary said “yes” and cooperated with God’s grace under fear of excommunication or even stoning, and thereby gave birth to God’s Word made flesh. Perhaps we, in full cooperation with the Holy Spirit, and with full faith in the promises of Christ, can withstand condescension, lay suits, and possibly even jail to return our brothers, cousins, and even our priests and bishops, into full communion with the Bride of Christ. Pray for me!
    Written by Fred

  • Danielle

    This is in response to Denise:

    The only problem I have with what you said is that in my children’s school, the Catholics are the minority…..All the “rich white people” who have their kids in our Catholic school are either Protestant or non-believers (which is kind of funny to watch when they come to Mass with their kids on Friday morning…..I do hope something goods comes of their showing up). And the Catholic families that do attend (ours excepted) absolutly DO NOT want to do RE outside of the classroom. “Sunday is our family day” is the reason for this. But our RE program had a monthly class that was structured off of the Generations of Faith program, and the RE parents had a much better grasp of Church “stuff” (we talked about all kinds of things….quite often getting quite off topic, LOL). We have been very fortunate to have very orthodox priests, and I have yet to hear something that, when I questioned it, was wrong. We just need more of them!!

    PS….On a side note, has anyone noticed how very many of our priests are coming from overseas?? I find a sad irony in the fact that the richest country in the world is receiving missionaries from countries that are so muchpoorer materially, but oh so much richer in the FAITH!!

  • Dan

    Quote: DJB – “Do you really think that most Catholic hospitals and their staffs really care about NOT performing abortions? Who would have thought that a bishop would just express regret that hospitals in his dicoese were doing procedures against the teachings of the church and the response of the CATHOLIC hospital is complete silence.”[/color]

    DJB, all I can tell you is that my wife is a strong pro-life RN who works in a Catholic Hospital, and is convinced that if FOCA passes in its current form, her hospital will shut its doors.

    The whole idea of pruning is excellent. When the vast majority of His disciples left him after declaring His body and blood real food and real drink (John 6), He asked the twelve, are you going to leave too? The truth is the truth. If people can’t handle the truth and decide for themselves that they have to leave…sad but necessary. Perhaps they will wake up and realize what they are missing some day. Right now, most people are blissfully ignorant of what they are missing – because the truth is not being presented in all cases – and they don’t care to learn it!

  • Thaddeus

    Let’s not forget about the cure for all of this. Besides having more orthodox seminaries that put an emphasis on better preaching (just look at how popular Father Corapi is!), we in the pews can do more adoration, more penance (fasting anyone?), say more rosaries, and offer up our physical ailments for the sake of THE CHURCH. We aren’t just innocent bystanders. We are soldiers in this crusade, so, as the ad says, “Just do it”.[smiley=cool]

  • Glen Misko

    David’s comments are well taken. The Christian Church (Holy Mother Church, founded by Jesus Christ and sustained and guided by the Holy Spirit.) has always had to indure heretics. The Protestant movement(s) was not and is not inspired by the Holy Spirit. Thus, the modern though of the day, leads to watered down christianity, to the point of thousands of Protestant view points, churches and the relative moralism. “If it FEELS good, do it, believe in it, defend it (use the Holy Scriptures to defend it). It is in fashion for the moment.” The road to hell is very fashionable.

  • Joe H

    Mr. Carlin, for making the distinction between political and theological “liberals”.

    I consider myself a theological/liturgical conservative and an economic “leftist”, if that is the right word to use, meaning I do not worship free markets or private property, but believe they must be subordinated to a rational and humane social order, what the Church calls a “hierarchy of values”.

    What I will pray for is that theological liberals take the time to study and understand the importance of the moral traditions of the Church, and that political conservatives take the time to read the definitive teachings of the Church on social justice and economics.

  • Micha Elyi

    If the bishops and priests started talking about all the hot issues (contraception, divorce, abortion, you name it), the churches would clear out so fast and there would be about five people left.

    Well, sunshine is the best disinfectant.

    And had your bishops and priests been instructing you properly, Ann, you’d know that although divorce may be a “hot issue” it shouldn’t be lumped in with the always grave matters of contraception and abortion.

    Human nature being what it is, after feeling the guilt for their offenses for a while, most people will be back and grateful that the Lord Jesus blessed His Church with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. A lot of the long-ago lapsed will also heed the call to return when the Church’s teaching and action ceases to sound an uncertain trumpet.

    The question is, how do they want to be relevant? If they drive almost everyone out, say bye-bye to any political power they thought they had. But maybe the truth is that the Church really doesn’t have any political power anymore anyway, when pro-choice pols are presenting themselves for Communion.

    I agree that any political power of the Church’s clergy is an illusion. The wise exercise of political power is part of the laity’s vocation. Whatever political power the Church may appear to have is a consequence of the Church’s moral power. When the Church in America renews and strengthens its moral teaching to the faithful, the laity will feel the desire to conform their exercise of the political power they enjoy as citizens of America to the moral teachings of their Church.

    The culture won IMO. The question is, what do we want to do about it in our own personal lives.

    The culture hasn’t “won” because there are no permanent victories nor permanent defeats in the struggle for a moral culture. You’re right to take note of “our own personal lives,” Ann. Each generation must be taught anew and every generation arrives one child at a time.

  • Sparky

    I Don’t believe that any one religion has everything 100% right.
    Jesus was really humble, and everytime I see the pope walk around all dressed up in all his glory and his pomp I think of Jesus. Can any of you imagine Jesus acting so proud? NO.

    It is so fleshly and demonic for someone to elevate themselves and allow people to worship them like they were Jesus, that was one of the reasons for the reformation. The second point is the worship of Mary, she has been made mediatrix, God’s word says that there is one mediator between man and God, and it is Jesus Christ. A statue of Mary has even been coronated and crowned as the queen of heaven! Has any of you read the book of revelation, God has alot to say about the Queen of heaven, and it’s definately not Mary the mother of Jesus.

    As far as the protestants go, they have also got a few things wrong, but God looks at the heart of both catholic, and protestant. But please, wether you are catholic or protestant, STUDY THE WORD OF GOD, OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT.

    There are many that are false christians,Think of the parable of the tares and the wheat, where God allowed the tares and wheat to grow TOGETHER untill he sent his angels out to gather his wheat and to burn the tares.

    Don’t lose heart. Jesus know his sheep, and his sheep hear his voice, study his word, so that you may dicern when a voice is preaching something that is not of God.The word is the voice of Jesus, and no one has the right to change that, not even a pope,and the catholic church has changed the second commandment as God gave it to moses in order to bow in front of statues. That is the only thing that is steadfast. God’s word, all people, including every pope, priest, pastor ect is capable of being wrong sometimes. Look at Peter who walked next to Jesus and saw his miracles, and he was rebuked by Jesus, ”Get thee behind me Satan”

    Test all things against the word of God allmighty, that’s the best advice I have for any christian. The word is our sword to discern and seperate what is from God, and what is not.If a pope can add and take away from the word, then nothing is steadfast, and God said, heaven and eart may pass away, but his word will not!The bible says to take up our swords which are the word of God, now the catholic church tampered with the second commandment, how can their swords work? And they did, because the jewish Torah, is still the same and unchanged.

    We need the truth and the truth will set us free.

    God bless you.

  • Met

    James is 100% correct in his summation of the Catholic church. After a 30 yr. absence I had returned only to be continually confused and very letdown. While trying to embrace the faith I was under constant attack from a particular aquaintance that was very liberal, very against the Catholic church. Many many debates over homosexuality, abortion etc. But when this person said that Catholics live the same lives as Protestants, I had no answer, she was correct. Most accept homsexuality, abortion, pre-marital sex, contraception etc. As one evangelical said if we truly were a Christian nation abortion would not be legal. 54% of Catholics voted for Obama! An “honorary” degree from Notre Dame!?!?!?! How ridiculous this is. Karl Keating the apologist was asking for donations to send Obama a message about abortion. I have an idea, we should try converting Catholics to Catholicism first. As far as I’m concerned I can’t see the difference between a “liberal” Catholic and a Protestant. It’s hilarious to hear them tell us how to “save” the church by becoming more like them. It’s like the Democrats telling the Republicans they need to adopt their policies or they’ll never win another election. Maybe not, but then they wouldn’t be Republicans would they? And if the Catholic church adopts protestantism it’ll no longer be Catholic will it.

  • Met

    If anyone wants to see how the United States has become the United Socialist States of America read “Architects of the Culture of Death” by Donald De Marco and Benjamin Wiker. If you want to see how the “modernists” in the Church have advanced their agenda read “Open Letter to Confused Catholics” by Archbishop Lefevre. When Pelosi, Kennedy, Biden, Casey and the rest tell me they’re Catholic I become even more confused and wonder if I’m reading the right Catechism. But then I remember when I was “Catholic” and never read the Bible, the Catechism or anything else concerning the faith. The only problem I have is society recognises these people as representatives of the church and they are far from it.

  • Nelson

    Liberal and conservative seem to be the same in approach at times although they think they are different in what each holds sacred as content, and perhaps they are different.
    I wonder if in conversation with one another, if both liberal and conservative held to the 6 Rules above for making comments, I bet fruitful dialogue would have a better chance to occur.

  • Robert P

    Liberal and conservative, don’t seem like the same coin to me. What seperates “liberals” and “conservatives” I believe what seperates the “orthodx” from the “modern theologian” how much they talk, think, act upon, love, wish to be with, contemplate, and do everything for the person who was God and became Man,Jesus Christ- and whether this man existed before any other man ever did.

    Because “modernists” focus less on the person of Christ and more on “the lessons we should learn from Christ”, it is apparant that they have spread themselves thin, with so many- some albeit good- causes, that the person of Christ is now hard to find, at all.

    Two sides of the same coin, I think not. In one view, Christ gradually “gets lost” or “absorbed” by the “charity work”

    In orthodoxy a man from Heaven- God incarnate- “absorbs” and “brings” everthing into himself!

    How similarly worded, how different the outlook!

  • GW

    There’s a constant yearning for a strong leader – someone who will talk in black-and-white, right-and-wrong terms. There’s some real value in that. Some things are always wrong.

    But our world is not black-and-white, and our frustration with that reality gives rise to those who pin the blame on others, usually minority groups who are said to be harboring “agendas.”

    I have two small daughters who I’m teaching to think for themselves, to realize that there is a price to pay for everything in life (and sometimes others have to pay it), and that Charity means that we take care of others to the degree that we are capable.

    Does that make me a liberal? I don’t feel like a liberal or a conservative.

  • Dan

    I Don’t believe that any one religion has everything 100% right.
    Jesus was really humble, and everytime I see the pope walk around all dressed up in all his glory and his pomp I think of Jesus. Can any of you imagine Jesus acting so proud? NO.

    It is so fleshly and demonic for someone to elevate themselves and allow people to worship them like they were Jesus, that was one of the reasons for the reformation. The second point is the worship of Mary, she has been made mediatrix, God’s word says that there is one mediator between man and God, and it is Jesus Christ. A statue of Mary has even been coronated and crowned as the queen of heaven! Has any of you read the book of revelation, God has alot to say about the Queen of heaven, and it’s definately not Mary the mother of Jesus.

    What are you talking about???

    God bless,
    Dan

  • Bob Johnson


    The cafeteria “Catholicism” of neo-“orthodox” “Catholics” as in David Carlin’s article re “Liberal Protestantism” above is so ludicrously anti-Christ, in that the so typical description of the “Liberal” FULLY FITS CHRIST THE LORD’S DEMONSTRATION AND PROCLAMATION OF THE ACTUAL NATURE OF HIS TRUE DISCIPLE.
    Yet the self-proclaimed “orthodox” unceasingly trash that sort as “anti-Catholic” and ‘anti-orthodox”!!!
    Ah, well, as Our Divine Lord says of those enemies of His then: “If they’ve hated me, they will hate you TOO IF
    YOU KEEP MY commandments [instead of the pharisees’)!”

    “Not those who make a great deal of professing me ‘Lord, Lord!’, BUT THOSE who [like the son who said ‘No.’] DO MY WILL shall enter Heaven!”

    And so it is.

    The Peace of Christ be with you;
    Bob

  • Jitpring

    “Those Catholics who are not ignorant of the history of liberal Protestantism cannot, if they are honest with themselves, favor the theological liberalization of Catholicism.”

    Sure they can. They seek to destroy the Church.

  • Alex

    Would it not be better to love and to accept even what cannot be condoned? Love them all, and let God judge.

    If that’s too liberal, so be it. The Creed remains the Creed, you know.

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