Thursday 27th August 2015

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Why Do The Liberals Like Pope Francis… Even When He Stands Firm On Church Teachings?

February 13, 2014 Frontpage No Comments

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK

A few weeks back in this space, I offered for your consideration the proposition that it serves us well to keep an eye on what the liberals, both Catholic and otherwise, have to say about Pope Francis. My position was that their perspective is likely to be different from that of Catholics on our side of the barricades in the culture wars, and that we can learn from it. I pointed to an article on the web site Religion Dispatches by Mary Hunt, who describes herself as a “feminist theologian” and a “Roman Catholic active in the women-church movement” who “lectures and writes on theology and ethics with particular attention to liberation issues.”
Hunt does not agree that Francis is as liberal as many of his critics on the right allege. She sees Francis’ public image as the product of a “very powerful public relations machine” concocted not to reform the Church along liberal lines but as a deception, “as a way of shoring up a model of the church that has endured for centuries.” She sees a danger in making the “papacy look good” through the “warm feelings” that Francis is generating around the world, when the Pope has made clear his commitment to orthodoxy.
This week I would like to focus on another liberal critic of the favorable public reaction to Pope Francis. It comes from Damon Linker, writing on the web site The Week on January 14, in a column titled, “What Do Liberal Catholics Want?” Linker doesn’t fear that liberal Catholics will be lured into backing the Church’s teachings because of their favorable opinion of the Pope. He thinks the liberal Catholics applauding Francis know perfectly well what they are doing, and that they have no intention of returning to orthodoxy. Surprisingly, liberal though he may be, Linker finds that troubling. I suspect readers of The Wanderer will agree with what Linker says, but for reasons different from his.
Linker is not uninformed about liberal opinion. He is a contributing editor to the liberal magazine New Republic, also a contributing editor at the University of Pennsylvania Press. He favors the ordination of women, married priests, and a loosening of the Church’s teaching on abortion and same-sex marriage. Like Mary Hunt, he sees little chance of Pope Francis moving to enact those “reforms.”
What he finds problematic is the possibility that “Trish from Kentucky,” a caller to a National Public Radio station where he was being interviewed recently, may be right about the reason for the liberal reaction to Francis. After describing herself as a “progressive Catholic,” Trish dismissed as irrelevant Linker’s skepticism about Pope Francis reforming Church doctrine in the manner Linker hopes for. “Doctrine,” said Trish, “for a Catholic, now, is not even an issue. Catholics do not care about doctrine. It is irrelevant. The congregation does not care,” she stated emphatically.
You might think at first that Linker would be on board with Trish. But he is not. He wants a liberalized Church that teaches his values, one that will bring “Catholic doctrine into conformity with the egalitarian ethos of modern liberalism, including its embrace of gay rights, sexual freedom, and gender equality.” But doing that requires a Church with authority, muscle, clout. A church without teaching authority cannot be enlisted into the service of his liberal agenda; it cannot be counted upon to convert the masses, still clinging to their traditional values.
Linker’s hope was that people such as Trish would “pray that the church eventually revises its doctrines to conform to the truth,” as she and he see it. “But Trish doesn’t hold this view. She’s completely indifferent to what the church teaches across a range of topics, and she thinks her fellow American Catholics agree with her.”
What Linker says next sounds as if it might have come from an archconservative Catholic, mutatis mutandis: “Why do you continue to attend church and think of yourself as a Catholic? If you attend for the beauty of the liturgy, why not just become an Episcopalian? If it is the sense of community you crave, why not join the Unitarian church? Either way, you could certainly continue to be spiritually moved by the pope’s public utterances, in the same way you might be stirred by an inspiring presidential speech. But what’s the point of staying put when you’re utterly indifferent to so much of what the Catholic Church . . . proclaims to be true.”
Are you reacting to Linker’s exasperation the way I am? Are you torn between despondency and a bout of schadenfreude? If Trish is right, it is not just Linker who has something to fret about. If she is right, the great majority of modern Catholics now reject the authority of the Church and view Catholicism in much the way the English view Anglicanism, as some vague cultural representation of their family’s and social class’ search for ethical values and meaning in life. Not an outcome to be welcomed.
Permit me to offer some words of hope: Even though the polls indicate the majority of modern Catholics disagree with the Church on the issues that matter to Linker and Trish (divorce, abortion, contraception, same-sex marriage), I would argue it is not because they think the Church’s teachings a “non-issue,” but because they find them too difficult to accept. That makes a difference.
I do not have a polling service to prove my point. What I offer is anecdotal evidence. But I think I am correct, and that Trish is not. It has been my experience over the years that when practicing Catholics disobey the Church’s teachings on the above issues, it is not because they think the Church’s teachings erroneous, but because they think they cannot be expected to live up to them. I have found, for example, that divorced and remarried Catholics will say that they agree that a marriage should be “forever.” Their hope is that God will understand and forgive them because they could not live up to that ideal in their circumstance in life.
Likewise, I have found that, when pressed to explain themselves, Catholics who practice contraception will agree with the Church that there is a necessary moral connection between sex, love, and the creation of new life. Their problem is that they can’t see how to conform to that ideal in their own lives. They hope that God will understand the compromise that they are making. They hope the Church will one day find a way to accommodate this compromise.
In other words, these Catholics, as well as Catholics who do not live their lives in line with the Church’s teachings on abortion and homosexuality, are not denying the Church’s authority to teach on matters of faith and morals. Rather, they are wrestling with their inability to live by those teachings because of their weaknesses or what they think are the “unique” problems in their lives.
Please do not misread me. I am not saying these Catholics are morally correct to think and behave in this manner.
My point is only that their disobedience need not imply that they agree with Trish that Church doctrine “is not an issue.” They well may be struggling and praying and consulting with a confessor over what God wants from them in their situation in life. That is a far different understanding of Church doctrine than Trish’s.

 

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

If You Still Support Planned Parenthood, You Are Simply Not A Decent Person

Another Planned Parenthood video has been released. I promised I would write about every new video that comes out, so here is my write up on the latest. Please read and share. I don’t usually ask you to share things…Continue Reading

“Catholic” Group Sends Cakes to Thank Planned Parenthood Staff After It Sells Aborted Babies

Apparently, Catholics for Choice want their friends at Planned Parenthood to know how appreciated they are since they will be “harassed” tomorrow at the protests across the country regarding their organ harvesting business.  As LifeNews previously reported, tens of thousands…Continue Reading

Facebook’s very (very) suspicious ‘trending’ Planned Parenthood story

Update Aug. 20, ’15 at 7:54 AM EST: I woke up this morning, and lo and behold, the “trending” news topic had changed. It now reads, “7th video critical of organization released by anti-abortion group.” That’s more like it. I…Continue Reading

Questions raised after pro-life activist Twitter accounts suspended without warning: one now restored

ONTARIO, August 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — A pro-life activist campaigning against Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s abortion extremism as well as a pro-life organization on a mission to show the violent reality of abortion through large graphic billboards had their Twitter…Continue Reading

Archbishop Cordileone thankful for San Francisco teacher contract agreement

San Francisco, Calif., Aug 23, 2015 / 06:07 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Efforts to promote Catholic culture in the San Francisco archdiocese’s high schools and to agree on a contract acceptable for the schools’ teachers concluded on Wednesday with a new…Continue Reading

Catholic Priests’ Forgotten Flock: Catholic Men

The New Emangelization Project has documented that a key driver of the collapse of Catholicism in the U. S. is a serious and growing Catholic “man-crisis”.[1] One third of baptized Catholic men have left the faith and the majority of…Continue Reading

Shortages in Venezuela mean priests are running out of Hosts

Caracas, Venezuela, Aug 15, 2015 / 03:33 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Venezuela’s ongoing economic crisis has hit the Church in a unique way: the production of Hosts fell 60 percent during the past month, affecting three states in the South American…Continue Reading

Do We really need a new day dedicated to the environment?

The Pope has decided in the wake of his well received encyclical on the environment to institute a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. This day will take place on 1st September. At present the 1st September…Continue Reading

There is no equivalence

Here’s a simple exercise in basic reasoning. On a spectrum of bad things to do, theft is bad, assault is worse and murder is worst. There’s a similar texture of ill will connecting all three crimes, but only a very…Continue Reading

Syrian Bishop: on kidnapping of Christians from Qaryatain

(Vatican Radio) The Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo in Syria, Antoine Audo says he believes the so-called Islamic State fighters are seeking to push Christians out of Syria and spread terror everywhere. He also warned that if the war continues, as…Continue Reading

Archbishop Cupich will attend synod, Vatican source says

Vatican City, Aug 7, 2015 / 12:35 pm (CNA).- Originally selected as an alternate synod delegate, Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago will in fact be an attendee at the Vatican gathering on the family this fall, a Vatican source told…Continue Reading

A word of caution about the Society of Saint Pius X

Bishop’s Column Written by Robert C. Molrino, Bishop of Madison Thursday, Aug. 06, 2015 — 12:00 AM The 50 years since the close of the Second Vatican Council have been tumultuous for the Church. Forces both inside and outside of…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Lex Cordis Caritas – The law of the heart is Love

God’s greatest and most beloved treasure is human life by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki The Bible points us to the truth of what lies at the heart of every moral teaching of Jesus Christ and his church. In the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, we hear him warn the people to “[w]atch carefully how you live” (Ephesians 5:15). He does this not because he wants to control their lives, dictating what they can…Continue Reading

Pope to parents: find time for prayer in busy family life

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday continued his reflections on family life, focusing especially on the importance of finding time for prayer. Greeting visitors from many different countries, gathered for the weekly General Audience in St Peter’s Square, the Pope said families often experience difficulty in devoting time for prayer. But he said a heart filled with the love of God can make even a silent thought or small gesture of devotion into a moment…Continue Reading

Thousands Rally at Planned Parenthoods for End to Tax Payer Funding

United States of America, August 24, 2015 (ZENIT.org) Staff Reporter A national day of protest took place Saturday at Planned Parenthoods across the United States as the federal and local governments are being asked to defund the abortion giant. Though there has been an ongoing call for an end to tax payer funding of Planned Parenthood for years, Saturday’s rallies came in response to a series of undercover videos that have been released in recent…Continue Reading

Angelus address: “Lord, to whom shall we go?

pope9

(Vatican Radio) Below you can find the full text of Pope Francis’ address at the Angelus on Sunday 23 August 2015: Today is the conclusion of the readings from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of St John, with the discourse on the “Bread of Life,” proclaimed by Jesus on the day after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. At the end of that discourse, the great enthusiasm of the day…Continue Reading

Kenneth D. Whitehead, RIP . . . A Personal Tribute To An Outstanding Layman

By JAMES LIKOUDIS Last April, the Church in the United States lost to cancer one of its most dedicated and well-informed laymen. His life was dedicated to defending the faith from the major errors that have afflicted the Church in the postconciliar period. I had the great privilege of working with Ken Whitehead when for…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic… Same-Sex “Marriage” And The Crisis Of Leadership

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bi-monthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Carry On The Fight With Faith

By ANNE W. CARROLL Robert C. Cetrulo, J.D. On the Gift of Life, From Eden to Eternity. Northern Kentucky Right to Life Educational Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 1202, Covington, KY 41012, 2015. 189 pp. $10.00. “I tell you not for your comfort, yea not for your desire,/ Save that the sky grows darker yet, and…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Sainthood In Married Life

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN The Journey of Our Love: The Letters of Saint Gianna Beretta and Pietro Molla, edited by Elio Guerriero (Pauline Books & Media, Boston: 2014); 282 pp.; $17.95. Available through www.pauline.org. Many know the courageous story of St. Gianna’s sacrifice of her life for the sake of her newborn fourth child and recall…Continue Reading

Immigration: Issue Of The Century

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “Trump’s immigration proposals are as dangerous as they are stunning,” railed amnesty activist Frank Sharry. “Trump . . . promises to rescind protections for Dreamers and deport them. He wants to redefine the constitutional definition of U.S. citizenship as codified by the 14th Amendment. He plans to impose a moratorium on…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Blindness In The Heart

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Isaiah 35:4-7a James 2:1-5 Mark 7:31-37 In the first reading God speaks through the Prophet Isaiah telling the people that those whose hearts are frightened should be strong and not afraid because God is with them. He then says that on that day the eyes of the blind…Continue Reading

Novena To Our Lady Of Knock . . . The Family Is Reason To Give Thanks

By MOST REV. KEVIN DORAN KNOCK, Ireland (ZENIT) — Here is the homily given Sunday, August 16 by Bishop Kevin Doran for the 2015 National Novena to Our Lady of Knock, which lasted through August 22. The theme was “Always and Everywhere Giving Thanks — The Gift of the Family.” Bishop Doran heads the Diocese of Elphin, Ireland. ZENIT News…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Our Persecuted Faithful Desire Leadership In Tradition

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Many of our Catholic people today are very insecure in their faith and thus needlessly fearful because they are without the experience of the presence of God in an abiding way. Whether because of Islamic terrorism which is committing genocide against Eastern Christians or attacks through a newly re-paganized society and our unjust and anti-Christian…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course . . . Jesus’ Greatest Miracle: His Resurrection

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 16 If we take the Gospels as simple historical records about the life of a Galilean preacher, we’ll find in them a remarkable entry: They say that the man died and rose again. He was crucified, had His side pierced after death, and was buried. No doubt about it. The tomb was found empty,…Continue Reading

Ecclesial Ministry In The Church

By DON FIER The Christian faithful, as we saw last week, are comprised of all who have been incorporated in Christ through the saving waters of Baptism. As taught by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC): “From the baptismal fonts is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Aidan

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Church names many saints as patrons of certain professions, troubles, or countries. St. Benedict is the patron saint of Europe. As the father of Western monasticism, he is credited with building Western civilization. St. Catherine of Siena is also a patron of Europe since she played important roles in settling both civil and ecclesiastical disputes. St.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Bernard Of Clairvaux

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the Gospel of John, during the Last Discourse at the Last Supper, our Lord prays for unity. Jesus said: “that they may be one even as we are” (John 17:11). During the most challenging times of Church history, God has sent men to restore peace to His Church. Certainly St. Bernard of Clairvaux should be counted…Continue Reading