Why I Am Not a Catholic Liberal

Labels are dangerous things, and I try to avoid them. But considering all the objectionable labels, the murkiest is “Catholic … Continued

Labels are dangerous things, and I try to avoid them. But considering all the objectionable labels, the murkiest is “Catholic Liberal.”

In the first place, I don’t know what the tag “liberal” really means. Some in the U.S. use it to designate any Catholic who doesn’t vote blindly for Republicans. That position is so silly that it doesn’t merit rebuttal.

As a political force, liberalism places great emphasis upon 1) individual rights over institutions and society; and 2) centralized power in “big government.” In the Church, centralized power in the papacy was outlined by the Council of Trent in the 16th Century and was climaxed in the reign of Pope Pius IX. He deftly utilized centralization of power as advocated by secularizing liberal political governments to create a “bully pulpit” for conservative control. (There has been a parallel movement in US politics wherein the centralization under the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt that was abhorred by conservatives then is now supported with a Bush in the White House.)

The task left to liberalism today is to advocate within the Church concern for individuals and rights. Thus, for instance, liberalism urged the US Bishops to join the Civil Rights Movement against segregation, to denounce wars of invasion and occupation such as in Vietnam and Iraq, to support universal health care reform, and to insist upon family values in the reform of immigration laws. However, I consider these issues to belong to all of us as Catholics, and not only to liberals.

In my thinking, there is a difference between being a “Liberal Catholic” and being a “Catholic Liberal.” Catholic Liberals attach their primary loyalty to the secular public opinion or specialized movements rather than their brothers and sisters in the Church, while Liberal Catholics keep the priorities straight. For instance, it is one thing to advocate peace and racial harmony: it is another to accuse the Church of war-mongering or racism. Or again, is Catholicism structurally “anti-Semitic” and was Pope Pius XII “Hitler’s pope?” The reasoning used to arrive at nasty conclusions often derives exclusively from outside voices. While we should listen to people outside the Church, the strategies for change should come from the Catholic experience. I choose this example because there has been significant progress in Jewish-Catholic relations over the past quarter century, yet we still see a stream of commentary, books and articles that attack Catholicism from perspectives that I consider faulty. I understand that sometimes passions will boil and that Church authorities need to be confronted with the serious consequences of inaction. However, when the message emphasizes “liberalism” instead of “Catholicism,” it often becomes self-defeating.

Perhaps what I most find unappealing in people more liberal than Catholic is a distressful “groupies-ness.” Fad seems to outweigh fact in such a world. It you haven’t adopted their perspectives, you are dismissed as a dolt. I remember at one conference that stressed “critical theory,” we were instructed that no book more than five years old was relevant. One speaker announced that (Horrors!) the priests at a son’s Catholic school had ACTUALLY suggested that masturbation was a sin! (I wish I could print here the inflections of that diatribe).

My fullest distaste is for how this elite group handles the abortion issue. Instead of seeing abortion as the destruction of human life, these folks dismiss the issue in secular terms as “control over a woman’s body.” Now in Catholic America, there are differing approaches about what ought to be done about abortion, particularly in politics. We Catholics are united, however, in considering abortion to be wrong, plain and simple. But if you gather with the flock that believes all truth is relative, nothing is ever plain and simple.

Liberals seem to be caught in an endless headline loop, creating condemnatory catch-words out of the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, Humanae Vitae, sexual sins and papal sincerity. Until Catholic Liberals realign loyalties to make the Church come first, don’t count me in.

About

Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo is Professor Emeritus of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College and Distinguished Scholar of the City University of New York.
  • I’m Sorry

    But I have absolutely no idea what the point of this article is. I could get a high school student to do a mirror of this about Catholic Conservatives who oppose abortion but say the Pope was wrong about the death penalty. as Justice Scalia does. There is only one Catholic who is not a cafeteria Catholic. His name is Benedict.

  • Jimbo

    I identify with his definition of “Liberal Catholic”, which is why I now attend the Episcopal church.

  • Lee Malatesta

    When reading, devoid of some other context, I would interpret `liberal Catholic’ to mean someone whose Catholicism was informed by being liberal and a `Catholic liberal’ to mean someone who was a liberal whose liberalism was informed by being Catholic. In other words, I would expect someone described as a liberal Catholic to take a liberal view of his or her Catholicism and a Catholic liberal to take a Catholic view of his or her liberalism.

  • Sancho

    As a liberal, I would be only happy not to count you in. You see, I am a Christian, because Christ was an advocate of the poor, women and all those who suffer, Because Christ fought and gave his life for social justice. The Catholic Church should be and many times act as a “Liberal Church”. Shouldn’t all Christians not only Catholics be liberals? shouldn’t we all fight for social justices, for freedom of expression and thought even for those who are in disagreemenr with us?

  • Mike Harley

    When I think of Catholic Liberals, or Liberal Catholics, or just good ole Catholics with brains, I think of John F. Kennedy.When I think of conservatice catholics, or catholic conservatives, or just loud mouth morons in general, I think of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.See how short & sweet that was?Next time you deicide to publish something, at least give us something worth our time.

  • Albacheeser

    I have long been quite annoyed by Stevens-Arroyos columns. However, I believe this one strikes a decent balance. I take it that he suggests our conscience should be informed by our faith in Christ Jesus through his Church. Not the other way around where the Church is bombarded with pressure from the secular world to chance this or that.He is also correct to say that there is a difference between a Liberal Catholic and a Catholic Liberal.A Liberal Catholic, I define as someone, within the church that has a tendency to see church teaching as a broad guideline rather than immutable objective fact. A Catholic Liberal, on the other hand, is someone that is politically liberal or left wing and just happens to be Catholic. This type of person is a cafeteria Catholic that, for example, is outwardly pro abortion. The latter I have always struggled with. Why do you want to Catholic if you feel that way? Why not be an Episcopalian or some such?The Liberal Catholic, on the other hand, loves the Church and its teaching. They just don’t understand it as well as I do. :-)

  • MDNC

    The Cathlic Church: Born of a need for medieval crowd control

  • Fight of the year: Isa vs Jesus

    Fight of the year: Isa vs JesusWho is the holiest..?ISA

  • Albacheeser

    Sancho, The mandate for social justice is primarily individual in nature rather than collective. Taxes collected for use in social justice which has been taken from some against the full consent of their will mitigates God’s purpose according to scripture.Taking from some rich to give to some poor may help some poor, which my be good as long as it does not lead to dependency. However, it does nothing for the soul of those from whom the wealth was taken. Therefore, this intrinsically defeats God’s purpose.We should, rather, work to change the hearts of men and help the poor ourselves everyday. I think Mother Teresa was onto something.

  • Steve

    So, in other words, you are a liberal, but you don’t want to admit it. Calling yourself a “Catholic Liberal” instead of a “Liberal Catholic” is not going to save you here. Instead, you should accept that the message of Jesus Christ was one of tolerance for those who are different from you, forgiveness for sinners, and a commitment to human rights for all. In other words, Jesus was a liberal too…

  • B-man

    Boy, this is one of the most shallow pieces of thinking and writing that I’ve come across in quite awhile.”As a political force, liberalism places great emphasis upon…centralized power in “big government.”This statement is right out of Fox News central casting.Liberals want a government that knows how to function efficiently and competently, and serves the needs of the society over which it governs. As for Abortion, any Christian, Catholic or not, who is against abortion but for the death penalty or war (as in the Crusades, or Iraq) is a hypocrite of the highest order, and does not follow the teaching of Christ.

  • Boring

    and idiotic. Qne now, after nearly 40 years and several sacraments, I no longer refer to myself as Catholic. Not to mention I get to sleep in on Sundays. They still keep sending me those little envelopes, even after I moved away.

  • BeowulfthePolitician

    Fight of the year: Isa vs Jesus wrote: Isa vs JesusWho is the holiest..?ISA———————————-The problem with “Isa” is that it is a mispronunciation of “Jesus”. The original arabic word for Jesus was “Yasu” derived from “Yeshua”(Hebrew). “Isa” doesn’t exist, so therefore, JESUS wins by default.

  • Noone

    “As a political force, liberalism places great emphasis upon 1) individual rights over institutions and society; and 2) centralized power in “big government.”"Well, if you are going to start with a false definition, then your whole argument is going to fall down.Maybe you can explain how “big government” doesn’t fit in with “institutions and society”? You can’t have #1 and #2.

  • rb-freedom-for-all

    You’re right, Catholic Liberal is a contradiction in terms. I would encourage all progressive-thinking humanists to admit that your position within the Church is hopeless and leave.

  • Brian

    Steven-Arroyo, your lack of persuasion and antagonism seems intended to wish liberal Catholics away and deny any real dissent within the Church. This has nothing to do with liberal or conservative politics, but everything to do with Catholics who view the world as more nuanced (“nothing is ever plain and simple”) than the Church would allow us to. In politics, it is healthy to be critical, but for the Church, questioning the dogma is forbidden. Isn’t this your real point?Your article could also be summed to: “If you don’t agree, leave.”Without the political and military currency Catholicism once had, such a strategy will ensure the continuing irrelevancy the Church.***Seen any American nuns recently?***

  • Deborah Duggan

    No, you really have your labels backward. There are Catholic liberals and Catholic conservatives if you are trying to distinguish political views, perhaps even in the Church (e.g. among the hierarchy who have political positions, the rest of us don’t get to vote). Similar to the oxymoron “pre-Vatican II Catholic,” or, I suppose “post-Vatican II Catholic,” which implies that one can simply pick and choose which Vatican Councils count for doctrine, “Liberal Catholic” implies a “loose” or “free” interpretation of Church doctrine. “Conservative Catholic” must imply a restricted and narrow interpretation of Church Doctrine. Church doctrine and practices are not monolithic. There should be no “liberal” or “conservative” Catholics, in the sense that any Catholic gets to pick and choose which doctrines are “true.” Theologies are not doctrines of the Church. Catholics who continue to swear by Thomas Aquinas apparently don’t know that, according to his reasoning, a human soul (the essence of “humanness” a la Aristotle) didn’t enter a fetus until the fetus was viable. The Church has taught that abortion was wrong from the time such procedures were available and under some circumstances considered legal (even before Roe v.Wade in the U.S.), but not because the Church has “always” taught that life begins at conception. There are serious issues for the Catholic debate relating to a woman’s rights, as well as responsibilities, relating to her reproductive “functions” and certainly relating to the responsibilities of the Catholic community to support life from the womb to the tomb, so to speak.

  • Art4

    As a child, I was taught that unless you were baptised into the Catholic Church, you were not going to Heaven. Hence, children born in Africa, China and the like that weren’t Baptised would not be allowed to enter Heaven. That our religon was the only “TRUE” religon. That masturbation was a sin. That sex before marriage was a sin. Etc, etc, etc is a sin. As I grew older, I realized that children born anywhere that was not baptised into the Catholic Church, probably was not going to Hell (I can’t see Billy Graham or Matin Luther King Jr. living there). I wondered if the Protestants, Jews and other religons would have something to say about whose religon is the “TRUE” religonWhen they started getting involved with politic, by endorsing certain candidates, not necessarilly the best canditate but the one, who would agree to support their “agenda”, I than realized that if all my teachings were true, Heaven must be a very barren place and that God was a very cruel god. And they wonder why so many of us Catholics, (liberals, conservatives or otherwise) have questioned the church and its teachings.

  • Ex-Catholic Liberal Agnostic

    Yes, you argue like a dolt. Your arguments are unsubstantial. You avoid the real issues which of course I will list. The bible is not history, it’s stories written down by people from millenia ago. There are no miracle; it’s been proven over and over again. There are myriad explanations for why people perceive them. Religious organizations are about social control and sometimes this is ok, but not usually. The control is most often abused. The authoritarianism of the Catholic Church is sickening. Why the sexism? Why don’t you argue that the Pope is not infallible since it was declared in the late 19th Century? It’s just preposterous.

  • on the journey

    seems that Art4 has a good understanding of the issue…we are all God’s children…believers and non- belivers – baptized or not – God decides – not a pope or churchspend your energy on something more important – like eliminating poverty

  • Arminius

    This is by far the worst essay ever offered here by a member of the panelTry this for liberal:Even conservatives value individual rights – it is a mantra with them. They have been selective in the past, however, as to who should have those rights. True that liberals want a strong central government, and traditional conservatives want a weaker central government. But what have we seen recently, in the past neary eight years? A so-called conservative government (actually neocon) that tried to create a single party government that would establish a stranglehold on America, and would not let our Constitution stand in the way.The author of this wretched essay badly needs an education.

  • Arminius

    On the journey:”…seems that Art4 has a good understanding of the issue…we are all God’s children”Art4 is absolutely right.We’re all God’s children, can’t you see?I am on my journey too.

  • MarkF

    To Art4,I’m sorry that you were taught the wrong beliefs as a child, but what you were taught was NOT the teaching of the Catholic Church.The Church has not taught, either now or ever, that one has to be baptized or a even a Christian to go to heaven. It does teach that all salvation comes through Jesus and His Church. Through the grace of God, all men and women receive enough grace for them to achieve salvation, regardless of their faith.That is the teaching of the Church from the time of St. Paul through today.Your parents and teachers had it wrong, but you’re not to blame for that. But you cannot spread misinformation now without it being corrected.

  • rdt

    Unfortunately, the Catholic Church is one of the most misunderstood religions in the world, thanks in part to the media and anti-Catholic bigotry in general. While I agree with Stevens-Arroyo that liberalism can be properly though partially defined as promoting ‘individual rights over institution and society’ and advocating ‘centralized power in big government’, it can also be defined in relation to conservatism as a relativist political ideology that advocates for the complete deconstruction of the enduring moral order resulting in the lifting of all ethical restraints imposed on oneself by oneself not protected by law. The Catholic Church, like many conservatives, denies relativist thinking and believes that there is an absolute moral order that is true for all humans. This moral order has to a great degree fallen apart beginning in the 60s due to a shift in academic thinking as well as in the increase prosperity since that time. This is better articulated in the quote from a speech on relativism given by the Pope on 8/5/08:’Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of education is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires. And under the semblance of freedom it becomes a prison for each one, for it separates people from one another, locking each person into his or her own ego.’As a result of the widespread promotion of relativism in the universities and, subsequently, in the media, society has begun to increasingly fracture and individualize to the point where reverence for any institution beyond one’s self is non-existent. Relativism has created great division, unhappiness and apathy that has resulted in the lack of will to take on the greater challenges we face globally. The effects of this moral void can be seen everyday in the failure of government and business to work properly as they are mired in the specific interests of individual rather than the good of society at large. It can also be seen in the general negative public sentiment (among both liberals and conservatives) reflected in a recent poll showing that only 18% of Americans see the country as on the wrong track. It is in the moral order of Christ’s teachings, an order that would incorrectly appear to be antiquated and burdersome to some liberals, that the proper social order stemming from the correct assessment of human nature is founded thereby resulting in happiness and meaning. I see this division, apathy and unhappiness everyday in the faces and actions of people I encounter every day when I walk and drive the streets of Cambridge, MA, supposedly one of the most progressive places in America. HOWEVER, Catholicism is NOT represented adequately by what’s commonly perceived as the Christian Right because it does not choose to focus soley on negative and immoral side of things. The Church also holds values that are central to it’s beliefs that might appear more LIBERAL than conservative. Catholic social teaching emphasizes action in protecting human rights and dignity while placing heavy emphasis on working to ease the suffering of the poor, sick and otherwise unfortunate. These teachings are as important to the Church as are the more conservative positions regarding morality. And to clarify what one respondent stated, the church is both pro-life and against capital punishment. Steven-Arroyo is correct in his defense of Liberal Catholics who beleive that “while we should listen to people outside the Church, the strategies for change should come from the Catholic experience”. The Church has done well to answer the complexities of modernity in recent years and is one of the last voices of reason left.

  • Doubting Thomas

    “My fullest distaste is for how this elite group handles the abortion issue. Instead of seeing abortion as the destruction of human life, these folks dismiss the issue in secular terms as “control over a woman’s body.”Ahem. Critical Theorists? How many of the pro-choice crowd are actually critical theorists or would have any idea what that means? Arroyo, usually more incisive, seems to be unable to distinguish them from the other “bad” group, relativists. And then there is the other aspersion cast – they are ‘elitists”. Is Arroyo taking a leaf from McCain’s Rove inspired campaign book? Fear and despise the elitists! That is why, henceforth we will chose only second-string players for the NFL and NBA, we will replace our orchestras’ professional musicians with a random selection of Target clerks. We will replace our army and police with 7-Eleven security guards. And since Arroyo is part of the media elite, his column will be awarded on a rotating basis to someone picked at random from the pews.Re: abortion. Is it not true that there is a sacred and secular side to all that we do? My concern about the abortion issue is that rather than addressing the tragedy through sacred means, the Church and so many members leap to a secular fix – which is precisely the control of another person’s body. It seeks to enlist the very secular state in enforcing its solution. Is not anybody troubled by this?Did Jesus seek laws? Or did He teach and minister to the poor, the weak, the suffering, the outcasts? Is the way to save souls by imposing fines and imprisonment, or by transforming the human heart?The liberal/conservative debate is from the world of politics. That church membership has become politicized is a danger sign. Maybe we need to turn first to theology?

  • Doubting Thomas

    RDT wrote: “As a result of the widespread promotion of relativism”I have seen this charge before, but little evidence beyond the plethora of similar claims.There is a concern to study how truth claims are “manufactured”. It is a scientific, diagnostic effort, much like asking what enables a bird or an airplane to fly. Those who associate truth claims with authority and wish to rebel against authority find these tools useful means is their rebellion. The rebels, like the poor, are with us always. This doesn’t quite equate with w widespread promotion of relativism.Further, RDT and Arroyo implicitly refer to _normative_ relativism. More important to scholarship and philosophy is _methodological_ relativism. This insists that we need to suspend pre-judgements on which statements are better or more true in order to compare them and exam their implications. This comparison often leads to a discovery of common, shared values and concepts across philosophies. It is an important step towards identifying universals and distinguishing them from the particular beliefs of a time, a place, a group.The hierarchy has a distaste for even this form of relativistic inquiry, because it challenges the claim of epistemic authority and places the Roman Catholic church alongside the Anglicans and Mormons and Southern Baptists as equals. On the other hand, if you accept that the Church is a human institution, even if divinely founded, such inquiry can be a source of learning and correction. I myself could give up my right hand more easily than I could amputate my need to make such inquiries. It is a part of my human nature, a gift (and curse) of God.

  • Lucky Lakeshore

    Popes have also spoken out against the death penalty, unfettered capitalism, consumerism, poverty, and the Iraq War. In other words, the concern clearly is respect for life in all its manifestations. I can respect that consistency. And yet all that seems to matter to this contributor (and to too many Catholic “spokespersons” lately) is abortion–and personal sexual matters in general. It seems as though the Catholic Church has become hijacked by a group of social conservatives who are obsessed with what people do with their private parts. Perhaps they should clean up their own house first (pedophilia) and deal with what seem to be their own repressed urges before telling the rest of us how to live our lives. Look at some of Benedict’s writings before he became Pope: his nuanced arguments do not jibe at all with the contributor’s view.

  • oconnellme

    Recycled liberal drivel from the seventies is bad enough.Could not the liberal secularists at the Post have found a mouthpiece with at least a superficial knowledge of history as their pseudo-Catholic mouthpiece?

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Markf noted: “It does teach that all salvation comes through Jesus and His Church.”Where did you read this? The embellished NT no doubt. The NT to be correct is the story of a simple preacher man aka Jesus told by five different story tellers/embellishers named Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. They made this simple preacher man into a god to win converts to their cause, the new Judaism. Some years later a few of the many embellished passages were erroneously used to establish the male papacy. Tis time to bring Christianity back to Earth where it originated. Time for equal representation in the leadership. Time for democracy in the Catholic Church. Amen.

  • Anonymous

    Lucky Lakeshore:Popes have also spoken out against the death penalty, unfettered capitalism, consumerism, poverty, and the Iraq War. In other words, the concern clearly is respect for life in all its manifestations. I can respect that consistency. And yet all that seems to matter to this contributor (and to too many Catholic “spokespersons” lately) is abortion–and personal sexual matters in general. It seems as though the Catholic Church has become hijacked by a group of social conservatives who are obsessed with what people do with their private parts. Perhaps they should clean up their own house first (pedophilia) and deal with what seem to be their own repressed urges before telling the rest of us how to live our lives. Look at some of Benedict’s writings before he became Pope: his nuanced arguments do not jibe at all with the contributor’s view.August 6, 2008 9:59 PM************************************An embryo/fetus is not a woman’s “private part.” It is a separate human being in development, with only one half of its chromosomes derived from its mother and combined uniquely with the other half derived from its father. Read the SCIENTIFICALLY VERIFIABLE FACT from any embryology textbook used as part of curriculum in medical school. Abortion is about killing a human being in development.

  • Mulopwepaul

    If Jesus is not the Christ, anointed of God, then Catholicism is just another, remarkably useless club.Those who reject Jesus’ divinity have no business wasting our time and theirs meddling in the matters of the Church, unless the Holy Spirit is driving them to such absurdities to demonstrate its implacable will for their salvation.

  • Anonymous

    Lucky Lakeshore:Popes have also spoken out against the death penalty, unfettered capitalism, consumerism, poverty, and the Iraq War. In other words, the concern clearly is respect for life in all its manifestations. I can respect that consistency. And yet all that seems to matter to this contributor (and to too many Catholic “spokespersons” lately) is abortion–and personal sexual matters in general. It seems as though the Catholic Church has become hijacked by a group of social conservatives who are obsessed with what people do with their private parts. Perhaps they should clean up their own house first (pedophilia) and deal with what seem to be their own repressed urges before telling the rest of us how to live our lives. Look at some of Benedict’s writings before he became Pope: his nuanced arguments do not jibe at all with the contributor’s view.August 6, 2008 9:59 PM***************************************Whenever you think abortion, think Hippocrates, the founder of Western medicine. Read the Hippocratic oath and remember that human biology has not changed since his time, even if human values and the right of life awarded to a human being in development in the womb has.

  • Anonymous

    If Roe vs Wade abortion-on-demand is not a kind of social engineering, what is it?

  • Mary Cunningham

    Rather than say a Catholic Liberal, say a self-hating Catholic, because–and I agree with Prof S-A here one cannot be a Liberal first and a Catholic second. It is a contradiction.This is because in its original ideology liberalism was anti-Catholic,much of which has endured to this day. The political origins of ‘Liberalism’ date back to Locke (1632-1704) and the earmark of the movement was ‘tolerance.’ Still, although tolerant, Locke was quite virulently anti-Catholic. ‘Tolerance’ advocated by Locke was mostly to dissident Protestants, Jews, even women, I guess; Catholics came last, well, during Locke’s time the faith was proscribed, punishable by death (the last Catholic bishop was hung in 1654— during Locke’s lifetime—and is buried in Westminster Cathedral) or swinging taxes, whichever the gov’t needed more. So, to paraphrase Orwell all groups were tolerated, but some more were more tolerated than others. Animosity towards Catholics in England stemmed from dissident groups, the inheritors of the Puritan tradition, mostly located in the cities. These formed the nexus of Liberal party and part of their ethos was anti-Catholicism, a creed tht was‘disloyal’, ‘superstitious’, ‘intolerant’ (!). Anti-papists riots continued up through the end of the 18th century and for much of the period Catholics were banned from living within a ten mile radius of London. The Liberal party, or Whigs, routinely rejected any attempt to have the legal prohibitions against Catholics removed. Reform of the anti-Catholic Penal Laws came finally from the conservative party, the Tories, and not until 1829 were Catholics granted freedom to practice their religion. Today, following in Locke’s tradition, most atheists claim to be ‘liberal’. Yet, it seems their animosity towards Catholicism is very much intact. This is why I do not think that one *can* be both Liberal and a Catholic, or a Catholic Liberal. Rather than say a Catholic Liberal, say a self-hating Catholic.

  • lescaine

    Liberal and Catholic need not be an oxymoron. Both see a need to help the vulnerable, needy and excluded, promote human rights, disarmament and world peace. Would Jesus be better described a conservative or a liberal?

  • MyFavoriteThings

    Fr. Andrew Greeley is the most effective voice of Catholic Liberal Thinking today. I read his articles at the Chicago Sun-Times weekly, suntimes.com. He has posted his favorite weekly homilies at agreeley.com which hosts his own blog . His Novels are uniquely uplifting and are the most effective witness of the message of Jesus’ love for us. His professional committment to Catholic Social Theory and its practical applications is inspiring and challenging. Taking no guff from either Secular or Church authorities he, demonstrates what it means to be truly free to be fully ,joyfully human. The latest column at the Sun-Times does a great job of exposing mistreatment of Barack Obama by his detractors. If the criticism of Liberal leadership focusses upon mob mentality, then Greeley holds out hope for a resilient transformation to a solid , universally appealing alternative to the status quo. His recent publication with Sociology Professor Michael Hout , ‘ The Truth About Conservative Christians ; What they Think and What They Believe ‘, makes a convincing argument for common ground and future dialogue. Inherited prejudices distract us from much of the truth of who our neighbors really are.

  • unliberal

    I must disagree with you Mary Cunningham, most atheists I know are libertarian and certainly not liberal as the word is used today.Perhaps you misunderstand our general animosity towards Catholicism as well from your own center of view – why should Catholicism be singled out for any more or less animosity than any other religion? You give it special meaning for some reason, are you Catholic? It’s just another ridiculous religion, just another parasitic human organization. It has no special place, it’s just one of the crowd.I tend to agree with the author regarding liberalism to some extent, modern liberalism whether it espouses big government or not certainly ends up requiring it to enforce its views. I disagree with Big Government with as much animosity as I feel for Big Religion.

  • Anonymous

    Abortion is simply soul-recycling, if you’re a believer. If you’re not, then it’s just tissue.

  • R.S. Newark

    Regarding the untimely and so sad news of Bob Novack, I pray “neauseatious” Sally can restrain herself from performing the same stunt she pulled at Tim Russert’s requiem when Bob passes. Does this women, I’m using the term losely, have any respect for Cathollics?

  • GeorgiaSon

    The more I read Stephens-Arroyo, the more frightening he becomes, especially if he represents mainstream Catholicism. First, a note about his word-smithing flim-flam. He says he does not like labels–and then proceeds to do what all demagogues and dishonest authors do to slime their opponents. He makes a list of every thing he dislikes–and attaches the label “liberal” to his own self-generated list! It would be like someone denouncing priest child molestors–and then labeling them “conservatives.” What palpable dishonesty for a man of the cloth.But Stevens Arroyo takes this demagoguery to new heights with his comment, “As a political force, liberalism places great emphasis upon 1) individual rights over institutions and society; and 2) centralized power in ‘big government.’ This is an even more transparent attempt to take what is good about something and lump it with a falsehood in an attempt to discredit it. Liberalism does value individual rights. Thank God for that. It’s the value that lies at the heart of what created America and what makes it great. That liberalism or individualism of whatever label you want to give it gave us the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. It gave us a free enterprise system that, warts and all, created the prosperity that we all enjoy. If Catholics are against liberalism and individual rights, I can only say, thank God it was my Protestant ancestors who were in charge when the time came for the American Revolution. Thank God for Martin Luther. Thank God it was not left to a bunch of religious-besotted old men, beholden for their every thought to some other old man thousands of miles away in Rome—all of them locked into a self-perpetuating, closed, incestuous elite of self-anointed old men—to whom fell the responsibility of creating the last best hope of mankind.Thank God these liberals turned to self-evident truths on which to found their Republic, and not to the medieval doctrines of a corrupt Church that for one thousand seven hundred and seventy six (1776) years had preached that God’s design for mankind rested on the glorious divine right of kings.As to the slander and the lie that liberalism is equated to centralized power in big government: To even comment on such a flagrant slander and lie would be to dignify it. The mentality on display with that comment shows why the American Catholic Church wallows in a cesspool of sexual depravity and would be on its way to becoming a burnt-out case, except for third-world immigration.

  • Ryan Haber

    “I’m Sorry,”You wrote, “There is only one Catholic who is not a cafeteria Catholic. His name is Benedict.”That’s not true.As a sidenote, the Church, if you will read the catechism, does not entirely forbid the death penalty. It does seek its limitation and curtailment, but grants that in certain circumstances, its use is permissible. Certainly, some jurisdictions dramatically overuse it.

  • Ryan Haber

    Georgiason,Lol. Prof. Anthony Stevens-Arroyo is neither a “man of the cloth,” nor does he speak for the mainstream Catholic – American or otherwise.”First, a note about his word-smithing flim-flam. He says he does not like labels–and then proceeds to do what all demagogues and dishonest authors do to slime their opponents.”If you follow the Catholic responses to Prof. Stevens-Arroyo’s posts, you’ll note that they frequently accuse him of the same thing.”But Stevens Arroyo takes this demagoguery to new heights with his comment, “As a political force, liberalism places great emphasis upon 1) individual rights over institutions and society; and 2) centralized power in ‘big government.’”Lol. Yeah, I thought it was a bit self-contradictory as well.”…that for one thousand seven hundred and seventy six (1776) years had preached that God’s design for mankind rested on the glorious divine right of kings…”Actually, that’s not what the Church taught. A number of monarchs favored that doctrine (no big surprise) including Henry VIII, and especially James I – both Protestants.”As to the slander and the lie that liberalism is equated to centralized power in big government: To even comment on such a flagrant slander and lie would be to dignify it. The mentality on display with that comment shows why the American Catholic Church wallows in a cesspool of sexual depravity and would be on its way to becoming a burnt-out case, except for third-world immigration.”I’m not sure I follow. Modern liberalism, as a political grouping on the American scene, certainly does favor big government. Of course, that flies in the face of classical liberalism, the sort that founded this nation, and is now more often called “conservatism” or “libertarianism”. In any event, I cannot see how that has much to do with sexual depravity. Lastly, of course, one must (briefly) address the slander that the Catholic Church occasions or contains any more sexual depravity than the rest of American culture – it simply isn’t true. Last October the WaPo itself, hardly a Church instrument of propaganda, printed a big story about rampant sexual abuse in public schools.

  • Ryan Haber

    Professor,I think your basic point is that we should transcend labels, but I am confused, because then you label yourself. Hmmm…I agree, but I will actually apply the principle and reject any political label; I am a Christian, with Jesus Christ wherever He goes, as long as He give me grace to follow. And I will happily weave across manmade and logically unnecessary political distinctions.

  • Brother

    Flip the Bible open to a random page, and I bet you’ll find Jesus talking about helping the poor, caring for the sick, forgiving the criminals. If you then read the Bible cover to cover, how many times will you find a reference to abortion?As a liberal Catholic, I find abortion unholy and wrong. But my priorities ARE straight. There are far more poor, sick and lonely people that are already on this Earth that need our help. Conservative Catholics tend to brush them off–indeed, their political philosophy often holds them in contempt–in favor of the fetus.

  • Hunky Santa

    Catholic Liberal? Vade retro, Satan!

  • Chagasman

    It is plain from this article that contrary to his assertions, Mr. Stevens-Arroyo loves to run around labeling people, and that he hates liberals. Furthermore, he loves to tell us how other people think, even though he dismisses their ideas and refuses to allow them the right to believe differently than he does.Sounds like Mr. Stevens-Arroyo needs a label. How does arrogant facist sound?

  • Mary Cunningham

    Unliberal:”Liberal” is a term that is used in several different ways, and I should have spent more time on its definition. Traditional liberalism, the liberalism of the Liberal Party (in England) tended to favour the merchant class versus the landed, the city versus the country dweller, the capitalist market over the mercantile state.. This was the liberalism of which I wrote. This 19th century liberalism, maybe today shows up as libertarianism. Although, Thomas Friedman–whose writings used to make me a little crazy before I stopped reading him–was/is a great cheerleader for this type of liberalism and even called himself a “neo-liberal”. This Whiggish liberalism was tremendously hostile to Catholicism…and you still find many traces of it in modern day liberalism. (The opponent of late 18th and 19th liberalism was that great Irishman Edmund Burke.) Today “liberal” can mean left-wing, or someone who supports the fashionable cause of the moment. (In the 1920s liberals were enamoured of eugenics, they professed to love the poor whilst doing their utmost to make sure the wretched folk don’t breed overmuch.) However, today’s liberals are mostly defined by their notions of rights. And this is what makes the movement problematic: because a “right” places a reciprocal duty on someone else. A “right” is an interest which someone else is morally bound to uphold. Now the Church today is happy to speak about “human rights” as in prohibiting serious offcences against human dignity,torture, degrading punishment, but we run into trouble as the concept of “rights” has expanded, as in a woman’s “right” to abortion, which someone like me sees as a woman’s ability at her discretion to kill by lethal injection a fully formed child of six months. I have problems in upholding that “right”. So I would say that abortion is not a fundamental human “right”, but merely a contingent exercise created by government policy. If we look at “rights” in the international sphere it becomes even harder. Does China have a “right” to get rich and pollute not only its own atmosphere but its neighbours’? Does environmental concerns trump human ones? I think the Professor is on the right trail but it is a thorny subject. Still he is giving it a good try, although he needs a better editor.

  • SteveCO

    A church that can’t even publicly admit that its *entire Church hierarchy, including the pope* was involved in moving pedophile priests from victims to potential and unaware new victims like an assembly line.The Church has no relevance. Forcing poor people in devastated countries to spew baby after baby because of bans on birth control and abortion shows what a useless medieval relic this richest entity in the world is.The Church’s big mouth during election time, tagging publicly only those who support women’s rights, while ignoring war criminals like Bush and Cheney – what good are you, C.C.? Absolutely nothin’!And talk about hubris – no, Catholics are *not* united on abortion. You, sir, are a control freak. You’re certainly in the right church for it.

  • Marc Edward

    1) The writer needs to do a lot more reading before he announces what “liberal” means.

  • Marc Edward

    Ryan Harper writes “Modern liberalism, as a political grouping on the American scene, certainly does favor big government”Not sure what you’re talking about. Conservatives certainly favor big government. The Catholic Church certainly favors big government as well. In fact you’d be hard pressed to find any ideological group that, once their kind are in power, didn’t favor big government.Mary Cunninghams comments about “self hating catholics” are pretty much too stupid to note. However to claim that liberals are anti-Catholic based on the politics of the 1500s is like comparing the modern church with the church that supported the 30 years war, which accomplished little besides bankrupting Spain and killing 1/2 the population of Germany.

  • Mary Cunningham

    Mary Cunningham made reference to John Locke and actually gave the dates of his life:1632-1704. This is a long way from 1500. She referred to Puritanism, which dates from after 1600. Now who’s stupid?

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Mulopwepaul noted:And said club’s name is “The Old European, Celibate, White, Boys Club”?Or should it be the “Contemporary Sinners’ Club”?Or the “Club Filicide”?

  • Leawood

    I really take offense at being called “elite”, a contrived label produced by right-wingers, now the new buzz-word, also reserved for Obama. It’s also fitting that, you, as a Catholic would feel comfortable using sterotypes and labels for an etire group of people who think differently than you.Anyone can use history to make their point. I see your points as flimsy and self-serving. To challenge the faith and commitment of liberal Catholics is not a job for you. Those who worship in the church can only be judged by God.

  • Marc Edward

    Howdy Mary Cunningham – you are right I was a century off. I still contend you are what – 400 years off? The “liberals” of England in the 1600′s does not reflect modern sensibilities (where I live we have linear time which moves forward and we cannot travel backwards).Calling people names like “self hating Catholics” isn’t very helpful. Many of us love the teachings of Jesus but don’t love the “cafateria Catholicism” practiced by many conservative Christians (including many in Rome). Fussing about masturbation (which is healthy) or homosexuality while ignoring the condemnations of peeps who wear two different kinds of clothing strikes some of us as rather silly.

  • Garyd

    Actually sir Liberals originally were in the forefront of the battle against the overweening authority of the State. The founders of the United States were liberals to a man.The problem now is that we have started calling statists liberals. They aren’t. They are in reality neofascists. Note Fascism is socialism with an Italian rather than a Russian or German Face. Freedom is the absence of governing authorities. Government always increases at the expensive of human freedom.

  • Tim

    I have been in parish admin for 35 years and I can say that it is men (more men than women) like Arroyo who are creating division and much anxiety within parishes – divisions that create groups of faithful Catholics who comprise the “true church”, as opposed to liberal cafeteria Catholics. Let’s just name these groups for what they are – right wing republican fundamentalist Catholics. They ignore the teachings of Vat II and quote Trent and Pius XII. Their attempts to reform the Church are futile. 95% of the faithful want to belong to a faith community that addresses their deepest spiritual longings, not a top-down Church that is more interested in clinging to false power.

  • Mary Cunningham

    Liberalism in contradiction to CatholicismWell, Marc Edward, our attitude to history differs and I guess I cannot fault you for not knowing much about the history of European thought. However, what dead white men did and said (and wrote) affects the liberal movement today. IMO Liberalism is interesting as much for the groups that it originally *didn’t * include as for those that it did. Left out of liberal thinking on “God given rights” were Catholics in Britain and Negro slaves in the US. (For the purposes of brevity, I will leave the discussion of women to another day). You can see the results in modern Britain: after Catholic Emancipation, Catholics were overwhelmingly Tory (patterning themselves on Burke’s thinking) and scorned the Liberal Party, biased as it was towards dissenting Protestantism. Later they supported Labour. Let’s agree on a definition: historically a liberal was “favourable to democratic reforms and abolition of privilege” (OED concise), but this process has been taken to its conclusion. Catholics in Britain and slaves in America were finally emancipated, although subsequently their voting patterns indicated decided preferences! Today we can define liberal as someone who believes that human beings have rights which it is the function of the political system to uphold. Liberalism did not fade away when democracy was achieved, instead liberals began to find more and more rights which the political system was meant to protect. This is where the modern day liberal conflicts with the Catholic Church. Whose rights should dominate? The nun demonstrating for the “right to life” or the feminist demonstrating for the “right to choose”? Well, unborn babies don’t have votes, so the nun loses decisively. Shame, really. (A hundred years from now we’ll wonder how we could have allowed such slaughter of the innocent to happen, I firmly believe that.) Regards,

  • paul c

    I’m not a big fan of labels. I see the Catholic church entire theology and moral teaching being based on the two tenets of Christ: Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself. When you look to these two points, you can discern Church teaching on every issue:> Abortion: Evil, because it puts a mother’s convenience over her love and nuturing for her unborn child. As I’ve said before on these posts, there is no love in abortion.> Death Penalty: Again, its anti-love. Jesus taught us to love our enemies.> War: The church is against war, unless it is required to protect the innocent.Many of the other ideas described as “liberal” in these posts are actually forms of promiscuity (i.e.Sex outside of marriage). The church teaches that sex outside of marriage is wrong because it lacks the commitment of true love and does not lead to life as it was intended.

  • Ryan Haber

    Marc Edward,It is precisely because time moves forward, bringing the effects of historical actions into the future, that we have to understand history if we are to understand the present. We get to where we are from where we’ve come. Mary Cunningham’s synopsis of the English liberal movement into the present both in England and in America is accurate, and bridges a gap you seem to think unimportant. In fact, it is directly on point because the topic of discussion is the relationship between liberalism and Catholics; that is exactly what she discussed.Conservatives in America, and Tories in England have, in contrast to modern liberals, traditionally favored self- and local regulation. This position is being taken over by libertarians in the US, precisely because of its abdication by the Republican party, which has traditionally been in the conservative/tory ideological camp, but is no longer very clearly so.Now, Marc Edward, you’ve been snippy, but other than asserting it was stupid of Mary Cunningham to look to John Locke, the founder of liberalism, for an understanding of liberalism (because he was from the 1500s, lol, no less), and telling us you think masturbation healthy (you may have tipped too much of your hand there, sir) – what have you added to the conversation?

  • Ryan Haber

    Tim,You mention Republican Catholics citing Trent and ignoring Vatican II. I wonder which documents of Trent or Vatican II have you read. Are you sure that their contents are so different?

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Remove the myths, embellishments and paranormal from Catholicism and there would be no liberalism or conservatism to consider.

  • Ryan Haber

    Tim,You mention Republican Catholics citing Trent and ignoring Vatican II. I wonder which documents of Trent or Vatican II have you read. Are you sure that their contents are so different?

  • Ryan Haber

    CCNL,I’ll take “Contemporary Sinners’ Club,” please. That’s a club I fit in with, at least.

  • Fate

    Cummingham wrote: “In fact, modern liberal * cause celebres*–homosexual marriage, abortion, contraception for young teens—all bring it up against the teachings of the Church.”I think you are generalizing here. There are many conservatives who do not take stands on homosexual marriage, some like Dick Cheney because they have children who are homosexual. And there are liberals who would not agree with homosexual marriage for various reasons. Same with abortion, which Dan Quayle said he would have allowed for his daughter if she had chosen an abortion, and contraception for teens is given or withheld in many families of various persuations. The church of course has its stand but that does not mean everyone follows these stances nor that agreeing or disagreeing with the church lumps someone into one of the two categories (liberal or conservative). Your view of life, and Catholics, is pretty black and white, which is not in anyway a view of reality.Cummingham wrote: “This is why IMO it is contradictory to believe in these tenets of modern liberalism * and* call yourself a Catholic.”If by that you mean that you cannot ignore Catholic church teachings and be a good Catholic I would agree. But lets take another example, predetory priests. The stance of the Catholic church is that they should not be prosecuted and should be harbored by the church. Do you agree? The church also favors santuary for illegal immigrants. Do you agree? The church opposes the death penalty. Do you agree? If you do not agree with these stances of the church can you still be a good Catholic?Cummingham wrote: “Maybe self-hating CatholicYes, but you ignore church teachings that you may not agree with. Or do you agree with 100% of church teachings and live by them all? And if you disagree with any does that make you a self-hating Catholic?

  • JaneDC

    I still don’t get why people feel the need to belong to this church.Can’t they figure out how to be decent, kind, honest, generous, law abiding people with a set of regulations from some old guys in Rome?I find most of the RCC’ers to be sheep

  • Norrie Hoyt

    ‘Instead of seeing abortion as the destruction of human life, these folks dismiss the issue in secular terms as “control over a woman’s body.”‘Of course abortion is the destruction of human life, but Roe v. Wade is good, because, if it were overturned, the sum total of human suffering in the world would increase beyond what it is now.

  • Bridget Scally

    I too don’t really like labels because it puts you in a box. However, sometimes it’s helpful to have an idea of where people are coming from. I have no problem with the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion. The problem comes legally in how do you strike a balance in a country that rightfully and thankfully has no government sanctioned religion. Catholics like myself need to remember that if the US had not separated Church and State, we would not have been permitted in this country. We’re the late comers here. But what does bother me about the US Bishops and other anti-abortion Catholics is that they want to deprive communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, and are usually democrats, but say nothing about Catholic republicans who support illegal wars that have and will continue to cost more lives. Either be consistent or shut up! Remember the only time Jesus Christ lost his temper is with the hypocrites in the temple.

  • Garak

    “Until Catholic Liberals realign loyalties to make the Church come first, don’t count me in.”What about loyalty to America? Or should Catholics put the Vatican above the USA? Anyone who puts any other power, real or imagined, above the USA should renounce their citizenship and leave America. Otherwise, don’t complain when Muslim-Americans put their religion ahead of America. They have just as much right as Catholics to make the USA second best. The Catholic Church just can’t seem to get over the Middle Ages. Catholics can think for themselves, and the Bishops and Cardinals can’t accept this reality. They’re stuck with the medieval attitude that the Church will tell people how to think, what the Bible means. That’s why the Church bitterly opposed translating the Bible into the vernacular and public schools. Once the flock could read the Bible on their own and apply their own critical facilities to it, the Curia started losing control. Bozos in red capes are no substitute for your own critical faculties, in spite of whatever pronouncements may come out of the Vatican.

  • csdiego

    Let’s be clear: are you saying that unless I’m a George W. Bush Republican I must not be a Catholic? Is that the litmus test you’re applying here?I grew up Catholic and to me the Church has always felt like family, but for years the only relatives I knew were mean old uncles like this writer, and so I stayed away. Then I met some very committed Catholics that I really liked, and it felt like meeting some cool cousins I’d never known about before. Their example allowed me to come back. Now that I know better I refuse to listen to anyone who’s not the Pope who tries to tell me I’m not allowed in the Church.

  • Dwight

    If you don’t agree with the Catholic Doctrine, renounce the catholic faith and find another religion. You were given free choice and should use it. the Catholic Religion is not about the priests or the Pope, it’s about our Lord jesus, the christ, The Son of the Living God…

  • FRIEND

    “Labels are dangerous things, and I try to avoid them.Perhaps what I most find unappealing in people more liberal than Catholic is a distressful “groupies-ness.” Fad seems to outweigh fact in such a world.”Sticks and stones, bro, sticks and stones…

  • Sothuse

    “We Catholics are united, however, in considering abortion to be wrong, plain and simple.”Pshaw. I’m quite certain that 99% of Americans consider “abortion to be wrong, plain and simple.” As usual, “holier than thou” doesn’t translate into “smarter than thou.” It’s also wildly ironic that neither “Catholic America” nor America itself would exist if it weren’t for those trying to escape the same religious oppression that the author is proposing to force down the throats of all Catholics.

  • Fate

    Dwight wrote: “If you don’t agree with the Catholic Doctrine, renounce the catholic faith and find another religion. You were given free choice and should use it.”In this you are correct. But be careful what you say.Dwight wrote: “the Catholic Religion is not about the priests or the Pope, it’s about our Lord jesus, the christ, The Son of the Living God…”Did Jesus say not to eat meat on Fridays? Did Jesus say to keep Sunday holy? Did Jesus design the Vatican heirachy, cardinals, etc? Did Jesus describe all the venial sins? No, the new testament is about Jesus but the Catholic religion is clearly about priests and the Pope. Its also about Jesus of course, but I find Jesus and the Church to be about equal in what is taught and which rules must be obeyed. Consider the last supper. It was a Passover feast, but Catholics do not celebrate Passover. Now why is that? Did Jesus want his followers to not celebrate Passover? I would imagine not since he celebrated it himself and even asked his deciples to remember him by breaking bread and drinking wine at Passover. The Church decided to not recognize Passover. Guess why? The Church decided not to keep holy the Sabbath but instead keep holy the day after the Sabbath. Guess why? The Church decided not attending Sunday service was a sin, but Jesus never mentioned not attending a service to be a sin. Why did the Church make it a sin? I could go on, but to say that the Catholic Church is only about Jesus is just laughable and goes against anyone with a brain who knows anything about the Church, its arbitrary rules, which they equally create and recind, and its history. For example, Galileo was muzzled by the Church for saying the sun did not revolve around the earth. Was the house arrest of Galileo a result of defying Jesus and his teachings or defying the Catholic Churches laws, most of which have nothing to do with Jesus, such as the earth being fixed (according to the bible) and heliocentrism was thus blasphomy? Was upholding heliocentrism, against church doctrine, any worse than upholding the rights of a woman to keep the church from making laws on a woman’s body, with church retribution (no communion, excuminication) for those who even consider that a woman has a right to choose?

  • Yada Yada Yada

    Think for yourselves. Question everything.Religions suck.

  • Marc Edward

    Ryan Haber: “we have to understand history if we are to understand the present. We get to where we are from where we’ve come. Mary Cunningham’s synopsis of the English liberal movement into the present both in England and in America is accurate, and bridges a gap you seem to think unimportant.Attempting to bridge a “chain of thought” over 400 years in a paragraph doesn’t seem useful or accurate to me. It’s difficult to bridge the thinking of the 1850s to the 1950s, the value, demographics and technology changed so much. Comparing the England where bear baiting and baby tossing were public sports to the modern day isn’t that useful, IMO.”In fact, it is directly on point because the topic of discussion is the relationship between liberalism and Catholics”Wrong – it’s about Liberal Catholics, not liberals and Catholics. Those of us who read scripture see Jesus a a liberal revolutionary. Of course Arroyo’s definition of modern liberals is next to stupid.”that is exactly what she discussed.Conservatives in America, and Tories in England have, in contrast to modern liberals, traditionally favored self- and local regulation.”Not sure what you are talking about there. COnservatives in America have been desperate for decades to use the power of the federal government to impose their rules on the rest of us. Maybe you weren’t following politics in the 1970s, 1980′s, 1990s? On a practical level, I’d appreciate it if you’d explain how local governments could regulate the manufacturing standards of automobiles, or the production of food products. “This position is being taken over by libertarians in the US”All three of them? Sorry couldn’t stop myself on that one.”precisely because of its abdication by the Republican party, which has traditionally been in the conservative/tory ideological camp, but is no longer very clearly so. Now, Marc Edward, you’ve been snippy,”Raising kids will do that to a person.”but other than asserting it was stupid of Mary Cunningham to look to John Locke, the founder of liberalism, for an understanding of liberalism (because he was from the 1500s, lol, no less)”It’s silly because she’s asserting that mistreatment of Catholics in GB was the fault of Liberals and had nothing to do with GB’s civil wars and the long history of Catholic led religious wars on the continent. Ignoring the threat the Catholic Church was to GB is like leaving Pearl Harbor out of a discussion of “Why did the US get into WW2?”"and telling us you think masturbation healthy (you may have tipped too much of your hand there, sir)”Masturbation was in the original writers post – third to the last paragraph. Anywho, I believe that any doctor (not to mention a recent Surgeon General of the USA) would tell you that masturbation is healthy. Maybe you rely on the bible (or faith healers) for your medical care, but most of us perfer science to 5000 year old texts. I also don’t hold with sexually mutilating babies, even though other religions favor it.Have a nice afternoon!

  • Mary Cunningham

    Bridget Scally wrote: “Catholics like myself need to remember that if the US had not separated Church and State, we would not have been permitted in this country. We’re the late comers here.”I was disturbed when I read this, Bridget S.Catholics began arriving in the US in numbers in the 1830s and in great numbers in the 1840s. Surely that’s early not late. The country had only taken form in 1789 (the first census was in 1790) so Catholics began arriving within two generations. Separation of church and state was primarily to allow Protestant Dissenters freedom of worship. A few Catholics were tolerated, but when Catholics began arriving in greater numbers they were met by rioting and a political party (the Know Nothings) designed to keep them out or send them home. They disobliged in both cases.I would hope–hope!–American Catholics don’t generally feel that they have to tread carefully as far as their core beliefs are concerned. To the others: thanks but no time to answer.

  • Fate

    Cunningham wrote: “Catholics began arriving in the US in numbers in the 1830s and in great numbers in the 1840s. Surely that’s early not late. The country had only taken form in 1789 (the first census was in 1790) so Catholics began arriving within two generations.”Brigit’s point, if I read it correctly, is that those Catholics arriving in the 1800s might have been turned away had America made religion part of government and not separated the two. Instead they and those of other religions arrived, and as you noted, rather quickly as the chance for living in a society where religion was not forced down one’s throat seemed attractive, at least until recently when the republican party decided religion should be part of government. Now we have Muslims feeling uncomfortable as our nation takes on Christianity as the state religion. Good thing Americans back in the 1800s understood what church-state separation meant, unlike many today who seem to think it only means the state cannot go around destroying religions but can adopt a religion to guide policy, even if the policies are unconstitutional. When you sideline the Constitution, you sideline America and everythng it stands for.

  • Sparky

    You said “As a political force, liberalism places great emphasis upon 1) individual rights over institutions and society; and 2) centralized power in “big government.” I must disagree. Lieralism says it is for individual rights, but liberals always go for bigger and more centralized government controlled by Democrats. Anyone who disagrees wil be attacked and destroyed. In the 1950s the nuns in my school asked us to pray for Castro because Baptista was such a corrupt politician. They got what we prayed for. This time they should me more careful. Socialism is a failure–ask any Eastern Eurppean.

  • Robert Sieger

    It is very disturbing that some barely-knownMany years ago he wrote an apologetics piece for the NY Times about Queen Isabella and the Spanish Inquisition in the light of murmurs of demands for her beatification and ultimate canonization by Spanish and other supporters. Stevens-Arroyo trotted out mealy-mouthed nonsense – I remember one bit about her “ill health” – as thought his justified her actions. Stevens-Arroyo, though he parses his words, is a scary example of Catholic integralism and fundamentalism, which he disseminates thanks to the blogosphere with the likes of Amy Welborn, Patrick Reilly and Andrew Cusack. Very scary. I’m almost 44 and I hope I can make it to the grave without having to endure another genocidal eruption from the Church of Rome.

  • Anonymous 2

    Congratulations Anthony Stevens-Arroyo for calling a spade a spade and refusing to be boxed in by egotistical self-serving prejudices that have no basis in the Christ of the gospels or could possibly be inspoired by the Eucharistic Christ.Thank you, you have written and delivered an invitation for a collective examination of conscience.I will post this on both your conservative and liberal statements.

  • Youngj1

    The author lost me very early with his definition of liberalism. How can one be for individual rights and centralized power? Doesn’t acquiesence to centralized power mean giving up individual rights?Please some one explain!?!?!?

  • Youngj1

    And just one more thing, shouldn’t all Catholics be considered “liberals” since the Catholic hcurch is one of the most centralized organizations on the planet? I’m really trying to understand! Can someone help me with this and my previous question.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Again, remove the myths, embellishments and paranormal from Catholicism and there would be no liberalism or conservatism to consider. Some starting points:1. There was no physical resurrection (i.e. Heaven is a Spirit State)2. And it therefore follows there was no ascension and no assumption.3. There is/was no original sin. A&E were fictional characters living in mythical land.4. And it therefore follows, baptism does not erase original sin since there is no sin to erase. Limbo therefore is a non-issue.5. Jesus was crucified but details of the deed have little historic verification.

  • Mary Cunningham

    YoungJ1 August 9, 2008 6:11 AMLet’s back up. The Liberal project, in Britain—the home of liberal, parliamentary democracy—consisted in the progressive granting of the franchise (defined as the right to vote in parliamentary elections) to previously excluded groups, beginning with excluded religious groups: Protestant Dissenters, then Catholics, then gradually eliminating property qualifications: extending the franchise to minor gentry, then the middle classes, finally culminating in universal franchise in 1918 (to all males over 21 and women over 30, subsequently lowered to 21). After this the Liberal Party more or less dissolved (see Herbert Butterworth: “The strange death of liberal England”) . The newly enfranchised working classes wanted their *own* party, founded the Labour Party, and within 20 years it became the main alternative to the Conservatives. During WWII, Churchill’s main partner was Labour and in 1945 the Labour Party would go on to defeat him.The situation in the US differed, mainly because universal franchise for males was the norm; there were no religious excluded groups, no linking of franchise with a requisite amount of property &tc. There was, however, a huge prohibition: slaves were forbidden to vote. The Civil War and the resultant 14th (?) Amendment supposedly freed and enfranchised the former slaves but unfortunately within a decade of being granted the vote, African Americans were effectively disenfranchised. In order to enjoy the vote the blacks had to migrate to the cities of the North and they did not do so until, say, the 1920s. Thus you had a huge group of American citizens excluded from voting, a situation that continued 75—seventy five!—years. Rectifying this exclusion was a classic liberal project.Technically blacks in the south * were* permitted to vote, de facto they were not. Thus liberals looked to the central government (since the state gov’ts were remiss here) to * enforce* the voting rights for these excluded citizens. African Americans technically already had the right to vote, but the right needed to be enforced. Thus the linking of the *rights * of a certain group with the enforcement of these rights by the strong central government.. I would say this came about with the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Feminists (and later homosexuals) almost immediately seized upon this same template to secure *their* rights, claiming the same exclusion as African-Americans. (Both of the latter cases were wildly dissimilar, but that is beyond the scope of this discussion.) But the Liberal Project continues in America, right up to the present day, although IMO it has run its course, all the excluded groups have been included. I hope this is helpful. Regards,

  • Garyd

    The problem Mary is that in this country we call the wrong people liberals.Classical liberalism was about the championing of human rights against the overweening power of the state. The people we call Liberals now thing freedom is accomplished by the creation of as many rules and regulations as possible even though that is the exact opposite of the truth.

  • patricksarsfield

    Folks,ANSWER: Sancho is wrong when he claims that being for social justice makes one liberal. Conservatives as well as liberals can be for social justice and liberals often are against social justice as in the situations of their opposition to the right to life of defenseless babes in the womb and their opposition to aid for parochial schools. What makes one liberal is being for use of the coercive power of the state to take as much money as possible from a minority of the population to give it to the majority so that the majority will support the accession to, or continuation in, power of the “liberal” government service provider. Liberals insist that they are just looking to get a “fair contribution” from the disfavored minority (whether it be the “rich” or the parents of kids in parochial school) but they are loath to define what a fair share is except to say that it is MORE than is already being paid. Take, for example, Obama’s fix for the energy issue: he would do niothing to increase the supply of oil. His solution it to tax more and give some of the taxes back to voters in the form of a $1000 giveaway, so they can pay for the gasoline whose price would be even higher because now Obama is adding on more taxes. How many years worth of the so-called, new “windfall profits tax on oil” will it take to fund the giveaway? More importantly: how is Obama going to prevent the oil companies from funding the tax out of increased revenues that will come out of the pockets of the gas-buying public? He can issue as many pronunciamentos barring such pass-along of the tax as his PR people think advisable, but the oil companies have lawyers and tax guys who are very skilled at making their side’s case too.

  • Mary Cunningham

    Gary & Patrick,The point I tried to make in my (admittedly potted) history is that liberalism as a political movement is long defunct. In Britain it didn’t survive the enfranchisement of the working class (the Labour Party won a majority first in 1924). In America it really *shouldn’t* have survived the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The coercive power of the federal government *was* needed in the case of enfranchising African-Americans in the South who had been de facto disenfranchised since the 1870s. Once African-Americans in the South were (for the second time) granted their full voting rights the movement should have dissolved. What happened next was that feminists using the same ideology (we have rights but they’re not good enough) ‘kidnapped’ the liberal movement. No one was denying women their voting entitlements in the same way that blacks had been denied theirs. But once the coercive power of the federal gov’t had been used to guarantee black voting rights, it could be used for other things. And was. The ‘human rights’ movement was born: affirmative action, quotas and the coercive contemporary federal gov’t actions familiar to today’s citizens. To the extent that Catholics support modern day liberal ideology *before* their Catholicism, IMO they diminish their religion.

  • Fate

    Cunningham wrote: “To the extent that Catholics support modern day liberal ideology *before* their Catholicism, IMO they diminish their religion.”So what do you say Mary to the Catholic churches that actively provide sanctuary to illegal aliens in this country. That sounds pretty liberal to me.As for feminism, I would imagine you are young and did not live through the 60s and 70s when women were actively discriminated against, like blacks, in the workplace and in other areas.

  • Mary Cunningham

    Fate–your style could be much improved. When you quote someone use their full name first, then their surname plus title and finally their surname only last. As you don’t give a name, I am going to call you Fatalia Worsethandeath and will demonstrate below: Unfortunately Fatalia Worsethandeath doesn’t know as much as she thinks. The Church has always provided sanctuary to those ‘outside’ the law, well before there was a liberal movement. The medieval church actually provided housing within its grounds as well, felons could actually go outside to work (provided they weren’t caught) during the day and return to their sanctuary at night. Regarding Ms. Worsethandeath’s view of feminism and liberalism: the liberal movement in the US used the federal gov’t to coerce the southern states to provide blacks *voting* rights. Feminism hijacked the idea of a coercive federal gov’t providing them with ‘rights’ they couldn’t achieve through voting. But Worsethandeath ignores the fact that women had had the vote since 1918! They were not denied their voting rights by anti-democratic voting tests (unless they were *black* women). They could–and did!–vote and had been doing so for 50 years! Women and Gay Rights was simply not the same as African-American voting rights, all of Worsethandeath’s assertions to the contrary.

  • L.Kurt Engelhart

    “As a political force, liberalism places great emphasis upon 1) individual rights over institutions and society; and 2) centralized power in ‘big government.’”It seems to me just about anyone should see these alleged emphases to be opposites and mutually exclusive. No way of thinking can embrace them both. A Catholic, however, clearly believes in centralized power because they are willing to relinquish their rights to the power of a church. Protestants are defined by exercising individual, personal responsibility for their religion. They embrace this same principle in government, which they see as being an extension of their personal power rather than some evil force that opposes their religion. An evil oppositional force is also how Catholics see “liberals,” whatever that may mean. We can see that these “non-liberals” are essentially driven by mysticism and superstition to the extent that they are not even concerned with the logical meanings of the words they use.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Again, remove the myths, embellishments and paranormal from Catholicism and there would be no liberalism or conservatism to consider. Some starting points:1. There was no physical resurrection (i.e. Heaven is a Spirit State)2. And it therefore follows there was no ascension and no assumption.3. There is/was no original sin. A&E were fictional characters living in mythical land.4. And it therefore follows, baptism does not erase original sin since there is no sin to erase. Limbo therefore is a non-issue.5. Jesus was crucified but details of the deed have little historic verification.6. Holy Communion/Eucharist is a fantastic spirit symbol of our thanksgiving but body and blood do not exist there. 7. The simple preacher man’s teachings to include the 70% added by P, M, M, L and J’s embellishments serve as the basis for living a good life but there are other teachings of comparable strengths save Islam which is nothing more than a warmongering, anti-female, plagiarized version of the OT, NT and other ancient rules.

  • Arminius

    As the bumper sticker says, JESUS IS A LIBERALIf you don’t believe it, try reading the Gospels with an open mind, paying particular attention to what he actually said.

  • patricksarsfield

    Folks,”As the bumper sticker says: JESUS IS A LIBERAL. Actually, Jesus is God, not a politician. Is he “liberal” on social issues? Certainly not on the issue of Divorce and Remarriage. He said: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:11-12.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Paul C, Paul C, Paul C,There is no body and blood in the Eucharist for a lot of reasons e.g. common sense, science, Jesus died in 33 CE and his body and blood decomposed just like everyone elses, there is no trinity as the concept was invented post NT. From “In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him.”Incorporeal things are not in place after a manner known and familiar to us, in which way we say that bodies are properly in place; but they are in place after a manner befitting spiritual substances, a manner that cannot be fully manifest to us.” [St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Supplement, Q69, a1″Sure reads like a spirit state to me. All of the above are being taught as “gospel” in many Catholic university graduate theology classes. And only 30% of the NT is authentic Jesus aka the simple preacher man as per many contemporary historic Jesus exegetes based on their exhaustive studies of first to third century scriptural and non-scriptural documents. A partial list of said documents has previously been presented.The simple preacher man is not a partial or whole god. Get used to it!!!!! And the historic Jesus did warn about divorce but that was not said as “God” but said by a “simple preacher man” not familiar with marriage and its difficulties. The Catholic Church in its contemporary easy annulments has finally recognized the problems.

  • Fate

    Cunningham wrote: “Unfortunately Fatalia Worsethandeath doesn’t know as much as she thinks.”She? My, you presume a lot.Cunningham wrote: “The Church has always provided sanctuary to those ‘outside’ the law, well before there was a liberal movement.”So you agree the church is liberal. But I guess if the church does a liberal thing it is not liberal? But if Obama called for sanctuary for illegals you would likely call it liberal. I call that moral relativism. Cunningham wrote: “The medieval church actually provided housing within its grounds as well, felons could actually go outside to work (provided they weren’t caught) during the day and return to their sanctuary at night.”Gee, I can’t see Dick Cheney approving of this, or any conservative today. Can you see Trent Lott providing such sanctuary? But if a democrat calls for illegals having rights you probably call it liberal. Just where is your line between conservative and liberal?Cunningham wrote: “Regarding Ms. Worsethandeath’s view of feminism and liberalism: the liberal movement in the US used the federal gov’t to coerce the southern states to provide blacks *voting* rights.”The “liberal movement”? “Used the federal govt”? Can you define that? Just what was the “liberal movement Mary? Who led it, what was its purpose, and what did it achieve? How did they “use the federal govt”? Your simplification of complex mix of movements to bring this country to accept its Constitution’s rights and reverse decades of official repression is silly at best.Cunningham wrote: “Feminism hijacked the idea of a coercive federal gov’t providing them with ‘rights’ they couldn’t achieve through voting.”No Mary. Women used legal action to bring the injustices before the courts. The result is that today we have qualified women heading some of our nations most successful corporations. Elections alone did not reverse the entrenched repression, as it did not reverse the repression of blacks. Sometimes Mary you need to bring the laws to court for review. The feds were simply enforcing the court rulings.Cunningham wrote: “But Worsethandeath ignores the fact that women had had the vote since 1918! They were not denied their voting rights by anti-democratic voting tests (unless they were *black* women). They could–and did!–vote and had been doing so for 50 years!”Yes they did, but many women did not vote, at least in the numbers men did. The legal actions taken by women modeled what blacks did, and the result was that when justices weighed the repressive actions of some laws against the constitution, the laws were deemed unconstitutional, and the result was a level of equality that is the envy of every girl outside the USA today.Cunningham wrote: “Women and Gay Rights was simply not the same as African-American voting rights, all of Worsethandeath’s assertions to the contrary.”Constitutional rights are the same for everyone. Sorry Mary, you cannot say a black has rights a woman does not. You cannot say a married man and woman have different rights than a married man and man. The equal protection clause guarantees the same rights for everyone. Read your constitution Mary and stop thinking like they did 100 years ago, when restricting who could vote got you around the constitutional requirements we all say we love and fight for. The constitution exists for all at all times. Get used to it. Its not a liberal idea, its an American idea.

  • Anonymous

    Arminius:As the bumper sticker says,JESUS IS A LIBERALIf you don’t believe it, try reading the Gospels with an open mind, paying particular attention to what he actually said.August 11, 2008 8:48 PM^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  • Anonymous

    On Susan Jacoby’s thread: ‘The Poor Ye Shall Always Have With You,’ Arminius was supportive of atheist Pam’s defense of Roe vs Wade.

  • Mary Cunningham

    Is Fate Worsethandeath a politician? He gets up on his soapbox whenever he can preaching, oh Lord, the gospel of liberalism/atheism/secularism and waving the flag to boot. They make an odd combination IMO. But the tricks! Oh! he *must * be a pol. (or a lawyer). Define ‘liberalism’ as providing sanctuary to felons. The Church provided/s sanctuary to felons, the Church is thus—you guessed it!—liberal. But why not change it round? From its Of course it’s a rhetorical trick. Firstly the definition is wrong. And it fails logically: if A has B as an attribute and C also has B as an attribute, it doesn’t follow that A=C. (But Mr Worsethandeath knows this.)Anyway, politician or not, scoundrel or upstanding citizen or both, liberalism as a * political movement* has run its course.( Liberal as a adjective will probably knock around for a few more years, although I note that US Dems. are now styling themselves ‘progressives’. ) This is because all the formerly excluded, ‘rights’-wise and voting-wise have now been *in*cluded. And since today most of the rights liberals propound are sexual–sexual preferences, sexual freedom,The Dem. Party is an uncomfortable home for most Catholics, transfixed as it is by the passé politics of sexual freedom. That won’t change, infuriated remonstrances from whats left of the Liberal Project notwithstanding. However, since the Rep. are in much worse a state, the Dems are off the hook for now. Now please, Worsethandeath, no more sermons on the soapbox. That nice Vegan has been patiently waiting her turn and I want to hear her recipe for nutloaf.

  • candide

    The main difference between a liberal and a conservative Catholic is that the first one will burn you with a sign of regret while the second will smile.

  • Fate

    Cunningham quipped: “if A has B as an attribute and C also has B as an attribute, it doesn’t follow that A=C. (But Mr Worsethandeath knows this.)”Then what does it mean when liberals and Catholics agree on a point? Is agreement not agreement? Is like-mindedness not like-mindedness. Its people like you who put yourself into a box and others into other boxes and where common ground exists deny any shred of agreement. That is the state of politics today, demonizing your political opponents to an extreme, at least on the republican side. So who is being a politician here?Cunningham quipped: “Anyway, politician or not, scoundrel or upstanding citizen or both, liberalism as a * political movement* has run its course.”You think you can wipe out liberialism with such a statement? Liberalism goes back thousands of years, well documented in Chinese and Greek writings. It helped create this nation. It freed slaves, stared down communism and has brought this nation from one where the elderly died of starvation and neglect to one where the elderly are cared for. Its legacy is everywhere in programs no one can touch such as medicare, medicaid, social security, voting rights, public schools, affirmative action and others that have made this nation the envy of the world. To call it dead is to ignore the world around you and many of the freedoms and liberties you probably enjoy but ignore their origins.Cunningham quipped: “This is because all the formerly excluded, ‘rights’-wise and voting-wise have now been *in*cluded.”And who brought those rights to everyone? Conservatives? Hahahahahaha. Who invented pole taxes? Liberals? Hahahahaha. Who voted for the Civil Rights Act of ’64, conservatives? Hahahahaha.Cunningham quipped: “And since today most of the rights liberals propound are sexual–sexual preferences, sexual freedom,Abortion is a sexual right? Wow, you must be a Catholic.Cunningham quipped: “…liberal has come to mean sexual freedom almost exclusively.”In your mind maybe. The freedoms I have described so far that liberals have brought to this nation are not sexual, but why is sexual freedom so bad Mary?Cunningham quipped: “This sits poorly with Catholics, who believe the state should intervene economically (to aid those displaced by some of the worst vagaries of capitalism )but not socially (to protect the ‘rights’ of, say, transsexuals to wear dresses in public or gays to marry).”And what would you do Mary, have the cops jailing people based on what they wear, who they sleep with and who they marry? That time is long gone Mary. Do you want to bring it back? You conservatives love to moralize and ask for action but you never consider the consequences of what you wish for or the history of why America decided to remove such discrimination from society. I remember the days before abortion. I remember when gays “didn’t exist”. It was an ugly time that is thankfully in the past. Try this as an exercise, ask yourself where in the Constitution it allows for jailing men who wear dresses in public and how it harms you.Cunningham quipped: “The Dem. Party is an uncomfortable home for most Catholics, transfixed as it is by the passé politics of sexual freedom.”You really need to get over the fear of sex the Catholics teach. Its not healthy.Cunningham quipped: “That won’t change, infuriated remonstrances from whats left of the Liberal Project notwithstanding. However, since the Rep. are in much worse a state, the Dems are off the hook for now.”Look Mary, I’ll take freedom over the dictatorial requirements of a bunch of men in robes who have shown their own sexual perversions in numerous cases and their ability to keep it quiet as though it does not exist. To be a Catholic like you describe is to ignore the reality of mankind which has existed in recorded history for eons. Your wish that gays stay out of the public eye, that abortion could not be performed, legally or not, that humans have varied sexual appetites is just not reality. Your vision of a fantasy world REQUIRES the denying human and Constitutional rights. Its an ugly world that is mostly in the past. You wish to bring it back. No thank you. Most people are liberal Mary, whether you realize it or not, and if some of your freedoms which liberals brought to you, like voting rights, were taken away, you’d have a tizzie, so just get over the unrealistic pope dictated view of the world and learn to trust and love other people who are different than you and do not hurt anyone. That is what Jesus taught after all. So who do you worship, the Pope or Jesus?

  • Mary Cunningham

    Where is that nice Vegan? I’ll offer one Worsethandeath for one nutloaf!

  • Mary Cunningham

    Fate Worsethandeath:Well, I guess that nice Vegan has gone home. God! Worsethandeath your posts are long. Can you limit your time on the soapbox? Did you read *anything* of what I wrote about the completion of Liberal Project and liberalism as a political movement? I bet not.Anyway,Worsethandeath, this will be all from me. Have another rant free, my gift of the soapbox, but I won’t respond.Learn to define your thoughts with more precision, control them, don’t let them run away with you. You don’t want to become an old crank like Candide.Best wishes,

  • Fate

    Cunningham wrote: “Anyway,Worsethandeath, this will be all from me.”I accept your concession. See you in another blog Mary.

  • jkarn

    There is a tremendous amount of anger, hatred and name-calling displayed in this chain of comments. Why so much self-indulgence?The fundamental unstated proposition in Anthony Stevens-Arroyo’s essay is the assumption that the Catholic Church is the final arbiter of God’s will on earth and that individual Catholics owe their allegiance to the church rather than directly to the God that it claims to represent, or to their society. This point is very much open to question, and I suggest that we open-mindedly support individuals in conscientiously seeking their own relationship with God (whether or not God is a sentient being) and more Christ-like relationships with people, rather than ripping each other for having different opinions. Thanks.

  • paul c

    jkarn:

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Paul C noted “We Catholics believe that the Church’s role is to help people find God, not to stand between us and God. Sure, you can attempt to find God on your own, but what’s wrong with accepting help and guidance from the Church, which got its direction directly from Christ through the Apostles? To be historically correct, said statement should read, “We Catholics believe that the Church’s role is to help people find God, not to stand between us and God. Sure, you can attempt to find God on your own, but what’s wrong with accepting help and guidance from the Church, which got its direction Jesus, a simple preacher man, and his embellishers and myth makers, namely Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. Very little is known about the last four scribes but the consensus of NT exegetes is that they were not members of the original twelve apostles and were not witnesses to the life of the simple preacher man. Paul was also not a witness.”

  • paul c

    CCNL:

  • jkarn

    In response to Paul C’s comment:I based my suggestion that there was an unstated proposition (should have said assumption)in Mr. Stevens-Arroyo’s essay on the two excerpts quoted below:”In my thinking, there is a difference between being a “Liberal Catholic” and being a “Catholic Liberal.” Catholic Liberals attach their primary loyalty to the secular public opinion or specialized movements rather than their brothers and sisters in the Church, while Liberal Catholics keep the priorities straight”"We Catholics are united, however, in considering abortion to be wrong, plain and simple. But if you gather with the flock that believes all truth is relative, nothing is ever plain and simple.”The first quote suggests that if Catholic Liberals attach their primary loyalty to the secular public opinion, then Liberal Catholics, in the scenario of keeping their “priorities straight” must attach allegience to their brothers and sisters in the Church. The writer may have been suggesting that having your “priorities straight” means attaching your allegiances to God, rather than to the Church or secular society, but the content and tone of the essay don’t suggest that. There are very clear implications that loyalty (fealty?) to the Church must be high priorities – and that those who hold opinions that differ from the official teachings of the Church are not really Catholic. I spent 13 years in Catholic School education, so i’m not entirely unfamiliar with the day to day life of the church and faith-holders. I’m not suggesting that the church always intends to set itself as the primary liason between humans and God, but much of the theology and practice are de facto based on that assumption. Everyone in the church is only human, living with the same human strengths and weaknesses that the rest of us have. While they may be guided from above, no one has yet acheived actual infallibility. There is certainly nothing wrong with accepting help and guidance from the Catholic Church. Church participation can be a powerful aid in exploring and developing one’s understanding of the universe and one’s personal faith in God, Ground of Being, ???.My primary point is that the divisiveness (drawing of lines between us) and name-calling don’t help anyone get closer to God, and certainly don’t help us help each other. I’d like to see the explorations of faith issues that are pursued in “On Faith” be more constructive and less divisive.Thanks.

  • paul c

    jkarn:

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