Responding to “Liberalism in the Catholic Church”


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First I would like to note that the following comment came from a friend on Facebook who was responding to my own endorsement of “Liberalism in the Catholic Church” a fine post on the Called to Communion website. The author of the post begins:

Catholicism is a religion of truth, not opinion. This truth is a divinely revealed truth, not simply one we make up as we go along. Be that as it may, it is no secret that the Catholic Church is beset by certain elements that reject the revealed truth of the faith. It is a spirit that seeks to overturn revealed truth in favor of modern capitulations. It is an idea that the revealed truth is ‘outdated’ and needs to be revised because modern man is, well, modern. This spirit is often called ‘Liberalism.’

He goes on to quote the famous Anglican convert and Blessed John Cardinal Henry Newman who defines liberalism in religion as:

Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining force and substance daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. Devotion is not necessarily founded on faith. Men may go to Protestant Churches and to Catholic, may get good from both and belong to neither. They may fraternize together in spiritual thoughts and feelings, without having any views at all of doctrine in common, or seeing the need of them. (Blessed John Henry Newman’s Roman Address of 1879 as quoted in “Letters to a Young Catholic” by George Weigel)

In my posting or commenting on this article on Facebook (how it ended up there I am not exactly sure but whatever) I simply stated that the author’s observations were on point and liberalism of this sort and absolute Truth do not get on well.
My friend, whom I believe is a baptized Catholic and knew well back in the dark days of my youth stated the following:

There are some sticky issues here. Why can’t women lead? Why can’t priest marry? These are not biblically inspired rather they are tradition. The article is right– liberalism and tradition do not mix. Some of the faithful want progress while others want a return (or more entrenched) to traditionalism. The Church is about community and this ‘split’ causes conflict and division. However, by dismissing the opinions of liberals (and saying it is all their fault), the Church loses some of its essence as well.

For me none of these issues are sticky and the Church’s response, as usual, more that just Biblical it follows in the line of Sacred Tradition, which is that part of the Deposit of Faith verbally passed on from the Apostles themselves. Let me get the meat.

Why can’t women lead?
The issue here is not whether women can lead or not it is why is it that women cannot be ordained priests? To address the actual text, women have, can and do lead. Take a look at our mothers, nuns, bulk of teachers and catechists and most importantly the role of women in Salvation History – most importantly Our Lady. The manner in which our Creator designed us is to function as a complementary pair. That is to say that each gender has a role but work in unity to accomplish the goal.

Now, when thinking in terms of why women cannot be ordained, this is simpler to address. Jesus is a man – a male. And every validly ordained priest acts in the person of Christ when they are celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, etc. (Oh, and there is the fact that there is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit who is the spouse of the Blessed Virgin as a woman cannot impregnate a woman.) Add to this the fact that Jesus Himself did not select any woman (His Mother surely would have been at the top of the list) to share in His priesthood in this ministerial fashion and the case is closed. Not so for liberals.

Religious liberals in the Church wrongly identify the nature of the Church, her authority and the essence of the ministerial priesthood by somehow getting the idea that the Church can change something that is part of the Deposit of Faith. No where in the Church’s over 2,000-year history can anyone see that a woman was ordained a priest. This is a fact of life and cannot be changed but by God Himself.

Why can’t priests marry?
Back in the day I asked my dad this very question and he boiled it down to a simple point that my five-year-old mind could understand: priests are married to the Church. Again, priests act in persona Christi and both Saint Paul and Saint John speak of Church as the bride of Christ but the relationship is probably best recognized Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Let’s do some math: L = H + W. L is for LOVE, H is for HUSBAND and W is for WIFE so if HUSBAND = CHRIST [PRIEST] and WIFE = CHURCH [CHURCH] then a priest loves the Church as a wife and is thus married to her. Oh, and then there is this passage from the Saint Paul:

This is one of the base points for the discipline of Clerical celibacy at the ordination of unmarried men. Wikipedia says this of clerical celibacy:

Clerical celibacy is the discipline by which some or all members of the clergy in certain religions are required to be unmarried. Since these religions consider sinful deliberate sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior outside of marriage, clerical celibacy also requires abstension from these.[1] In the Latin Catholic Church, clerical celibacy is mandated for bishops and, as a general rule, for priests and for deacons who intend to become priests. In Eastern Christianity, celibacy is mandatory for all bishops and for any priest who has been ordained while unmarried or who has lost his wife.

Now, there are married priests in the Church, even in the Latin Rite. This is because there is a difference between discipline and doctrine. Disciplines can, in theory, be changes. That said, strong evidence in the Deposit of Faith (Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition) make this highly – extremely – unlikely.

The Faithful Want Progress
If you are faithful and want progress then seek to adhere to the teachings of the Church, which is the sole authorized, visible representative of Christ on Earth. “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16).

Any person who wants to truly progress in their faith need only follow the Word, which means accepting Jesus Christ, His Church and the Sacraments He left for us: Baptism, Reconciliation, Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick. A little Eucharistic Adoration and a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother doesn’t hurt either.

Oh, on splits and divisions. John the Baptist said this of Jesus and what Our Blessed Lord will do with the wheat and the chaff:

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”  (Luke 3:17)


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