From the “Couldn’ta said it better myself” files.
One of our regular Catholyc commenters who specializes in beating straw men to death, missing the point, mis-stating others’ arguments, and just generally being a bad-faith interlocutor, recently commented the following:
This “liberal Catholic” label is bothersome. First of all, liberal Catholics outnumber “conservative Catholics.” Liberal Catholics have a different value set than conservative Catholics. Liberal Catholics use contraceptives which pretty much implies that they feel the stance of the “Old Church” is out of date with reality in some areas. The majority of liberal Catholics do not support the insurance coverage of contraceptives but they are not foolish enough to throw out Obama and vote for a conservative President because they don’t want to move backwards. You’re not going to convince liberal Catholics to vote against Obama using the “freedom of religion’ banner. It’s that simple in my opinion.
Really, I must thank this person for putting into one succinct paragraph the problems faced by “liberal Catholics” in their efforts against the Church. Let’s go through it part by part…
A) The label “liberal Catholic” is considered “bothersome,” but then the commenter proceeds to use it several times to self-identify. Perhaps this commenter was merely using it for convenience sake. But then the commenter enumerates very real differences between “liberal” Catholics—or “Catholycs”—and “conservative” Catholics, those identified later as supporting the “Old Church.” More on that in a moment. But the very real differences this commenter enumerates indicate a set of teachings and beliefs very different on some very important issues from the “conservative Catholics” who don’t differentiate between the “Old Church” and the Church of today—they’re the same Church.
B) “…liberal Catholics outnumber ‘conservative Catholics.'” Even if true, that means… what, exactly? Right is right if the world be wrong. A vote would not make 1 + 1 = 3. In questions of absolute truth majorities simply do not matter.
When Paul VI published Humanae Vitae he did so against the headwind of the day, against the recommendations of his own commission, and against what many bishops and priests and theologians had already begun teaching. Because at the end of the day it didn’t matter what “the majority”—even a majority of Very Smart People—thought about the matter, he realized that contraception is immoral. Period. End of story. And as Peter he was singly responsible for affirming that fact and then turning back and strengthening his brethren. Catholycs really want to be Catholic, but only if they can be pope.
C) “Liberal Catholics have a different value set than conservative Catholics.” No kidding. We value the Church’s teaching authority, they value their own teaching authority. The thing about being Catholic is that we have a defined set of beliefs that are non-negotiable on matters of faith and morals. That set of beliefs is defined and taught by an established hierarchy, unified in the bishop of Rome. People of other faiths are able to seek a denomination or congregation that fits the set of truths and values that they prefer. People with no faith are free to be complete freelancers on morality and values. Those options are not open to those who would be Catholic because to be Catholic means to accept the Church’s competency to teach infallibly. There certainly are areas where people of faith can legitimately differ, but the nitty gritty of sexual ethics is not among them.
D) “Liberal Catholics use contraceptives which pretty much implies that they feel the stance of the ‘Old Church’ is out of date with reality in some areas.” And here we have the crux of the matter. Catholycs insist that they are Catholic, but it’s some new Church they must have sung into being and definitely not the “Old Church.” But you know what else is firmly a part of the “Old Church”? Jesus Christ. He who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Jesus self-identifies with His Church, which all Catholics believe to be the Catholic Church, and thus the doctrinal teachings of the Church are His teachings. As such, they cannot be “out of date with reality” in any time or place. We have a term for those who dissent so obviously and pointedly on defined matters of faith and morals: heretics.
E) “The majority of liberal Catholics do not support the insurance coverage of contraceptives but they are not foolish enough to throw out Obama and vote for a conservative President because they don’t want to move backwards.” Because the energy policy that is crushing our economy and making us *more* dependent on Middle Eastern oil is so forward-looking; the fiscal policies that are returning us to Carter-era stagflation and handing a multi-trillion dollar liability to our posterity are so forward looking; the obsequious foreign policy that has us retreating and aimless and disrespected the world over and making our allies less safe is so forward looking; and the attacks on religious liberty that harken back to some of the ugliest parts of our nation’s history are so forward looking. But hey! Free condoms! So it’s all totally worth it, the liberty of the Church and all citizens of faith to operate according to their deeply held religious beliefs be damned.
F) “You’re not going to convince liberal Catholics to vote against Obama using the ‘freedom of religion’ banner. It’s that simple in my opinion.” Yep. That’s true. Fully subsidized condoms, abortofacients, and sterilization are, in fact, more important than religious liberty to those who regard their libido more highly than the clear and unequivocal teachings of the Church they claim as their own. Uninhibited sex, fully subsidized by everyone else, becomes the Most Important Right, and the first sacrament in this “New Church” they’ve imagined.
There really is no convincing those who refuse to be convinced. There is no teaching those who refuse to be taught.
I just wish they would be honest and stop calling themselves Catholic, “liberal” or otherwise.