A “Liberal Catholic” sums it up nicely.

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 Liberal Catholics use contraceptives which pretty much implies that they feel the stance of the “Old Church” is out of date with reality in some areas.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.

Oh my.

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…

Found this on another blog post that points out the inanity of pro-contraception Catholicism.

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.



  • Former Episcopal

    I used to be an Episcopalian and became Catholic when i got married. Why don’t the CINOs just become Episcopal? It’s more in line with their thinking, especially now.

  • Mary

    Thanks for this, Tom. All very well stated. I’ve never understood why a person (a “liberal Catholic”) would want to even remain in the Catholic Church, when they find it so oppressive/misogynistic/backward. Your closing line hits it on the head.

  • Del

    This is why Blessed John Paul II called for a New Evangelization. He recognized that there are millions of baptized persons who do not know Jesus Christ. There are millions of baptized Catholics who do not know Jesus Christ in His Church. These are our mission field.

    Yes, the catholycs are frustrating. They do grievous harm to our Church and our culture. They encourage sexual license, divorce, abortion, and unnatural unions. They have sexually abused our kids and contracepted against their own.

    And yet…. our constant prayer and hope must be for their repentence and reconciliation with Christ and His Church. If we must insist that they officially separate from the Church while they are bound in sin and disobedience, we must always hope that they will come back as faithful Catholics.

    And pray for our Bishops, every day. They have a very hard job, as shepherds to this flock of cats.

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      Del— Totally agree. I wish they would all, in the words of a priest friend of mine, “get over their infantile rebellion and be, once more, Catholic!” (He was speaking of the Jesuits on the feast of St. Philip Neri, but the sentiment applies more broadly, of course.)

  • Brian C

    “There certainly are areas where people of faith can legitimately differ, but the nitty gritty of sexual ethics is not among them.”

    You included this statement at the end if item C. You should have included it (as the entire response) for item E; that would have made this a perfect post. As it stands, your post gives more ammunition for those who think CV is just an arm of the Republican Party, which is a claim that I disagree with, but your statement for item E does not help.

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      Brian C— You project too much. Item E) was in response to the commenter’s endorsement of the policies of Barack Obama, contrasting them to the “backward”-ness of any conservative (not Republican) president who might follow. My response was to list the major policy areas of Obama that are decidedly un-forward-looking, and on which a more conservative president could be expected to have a decidedly more forward-looking policy. There are plenty in the Republican party who agree with some of Obama’s policies. I oppose them as well. I am politically conservative. In this day and age that does mean I tend to vote Republican more often than Democrat, but that’s because of how the politicians and issues align, not out of party loyalty.

      • BethAnn

        But those are your opinions, Tom. Those are not facts. Your claim about becoming more dependent on Middle East oil has no backing in fact; EIA stats show domestic drilling levels are generally on par, if not higher, than years during the Bush administration. Which of our allies is less safe? How do you quantify safety? And what specific Obama policies have made them less safe? You are entitled to endorse your conservative opinions, but please don’t pretend that these are facts. Or, next time, offer proof to back up your positions.

        • Bruce

          Does Obama support drilling Catholics for money to fund abortions and homosexual pride parades?

  • Walker

    I find the conversation above between “T More” and Tom fascinating, and invite “T More”, “faithful democrat” and others to continue and or join in; I think it would be helpful for both sides to understand where the other is coming from. One one side, Tom and others (including myself) argue that there are non-negotiable, dogmatic elements of faith to which we should assent (contraception and abortion are intrinsically evil, two people with same-sex attraction cannot form a marriage, women cannot be ordained as priests, etc), and there are prudential elements of the faith which we apply to our lives in, well, a prudential way (somebody help me with my wording!), such that two reasonable, faithful and orthodox Catholics might disagree (e.g., just war). And, one can give preferential treatment to the dogmatic elements of our faith to prudential elements in certain situations (so, I might choose to vote for a candidate that is opposed to abortion, even though that candidate is a strong proponent of the death penalty, and I am not). And, the other side??? I am not so sure, and that is why I invite others to present their position. Is it that some of the elements that I presented as dogmatic, others view as prudential? And, vice versa? Or, maybe it is that all of those elements are viewed as dogmatic, and preferences differ?

    • T More

      I agree with everything you just said and vote exclusively for pro-life candidates. What frustrates me is the attitude that if an issue is a matter of prudential judgement then you can simply ignore the spirit of the catechism and the clearly defined recommendations of the church hierarchy. For the most part this is done as a matter of political convenience. For example the Vatican and USCCB made very unequivocal statements about the just wars and the death penalty but this self professed Catholic website chooses to ignore those statements. If you are going to call yourself a Catholic website why wouldn’t you defer to the leadership of the Church on matters of prudential judgement. Liberals use similar tactics to justify voting for pro-choice candidates. It smacks of self serving hypocrisy.

  • Marsha

    Tom, you state that “Catholic means to accept the Church’s competency to teach infallibly.” To me, that means to never question the “authority” and never look within yourself to determine if what is being taught is accurate. In other words, don’t use your brain and don’t get in touch with your own conscience. This is no different than a father saying to his son “do this because I said so and don’t ask me me why.” And if the Catholic Church makes ethical mistakes (sexual abuse of children cover-up) or illogical mistakes (the sun is not the center of our universe) we are still asked to continue not to question the authority of the Church. The Catholic Church claims a connection to God that can not be proven and yet asks and demands that this connection be accepted. If someone says prove it or if someone determines on their own that one or more of Catholic teachings are not accurate, they are called “liberal Catholics” or Catholycs, I assume because God has told the Catholic Church to label them as such. And yet even this site is aware that it needs the votes of the “liberal Catholic” to elect a new President. So this site attempts to shame these “liberal Catholics” into voting a certain way when ethically, if what you say is true, you should be ignoring the “liberal Catholics” completely because they are no longer Catholic but rather heretics or worse yet; Protestants. (Ha Ha)

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      Oh, hi Marsha. Was wondering when you’d show up. And thanks for further making my point. (For the record, I actually clicked the thumbs-up on your comment because I think people should see it more readily).

      • Marsha

        You’re welcome Tom. And thanks for the by-line.

    • Walker

      Well, Marsha, I gave your post a thumbs-up as well, because I hope the conversation can be enlightening… Ignoring the red herrings on the sex abuse scandal and early geocentric *scientific* misunderstandings, I read your post as “We should use our conscience to discern whether what the Church says is true.” My question for you would be, is there any limit to the discernment? So, for example, should I question the Church’s teaching on the Trinity? The perpetual virginity of the Blessed Mother? The sanctity of human life? The use of contraception? The death penalty? Where do you draw the line, if at all?

      • Marsha

        Walker, I suggest that we question everything, not because any Church teachings may be wrong, but rather to own our decisions to follow the teachings or not. This is about not following teachings blindly. This is about not accepting something simply because an “authority” says it’s true. As an example, if you study the Church teachings of the Trinity and you then decide that the Church is accurate, then the decision is your decision and you feel much better about owning that decision and following that teaching. It becomes a part of you. There is no sin in questioning “authority.”

        • Curious

          Marsha, there is great sin in questioning God’s Authority, His Word, and His Laws. God Bless

    • JohnE

      “The Catholic Church claims a connection to God that can not be proven and yet asks and demands that this connection be accepted. ”

      The Catholic Church demands nothing. You don’t even have to believe in God, but there’s another name for that: atheist. You don’t have to believe that the Church teaches infallibly. But there’s many other names for that too: Protestant.

      Being Catholic is more than just being baptized (Many Protestants also have valid baptisms). It’s more than where you had your wedding ceremony (Protestants have valid sacramental marriages too). It’s more than the name of the parish you attended with your family as you were growing up, with the great memories of donuts in the parish hall after Mass.

      Being Catholic means believing what the Church teaches and striving (even though you may often fail) to live by those teachings. If you reject the teachings of the Catholic Church, then you’re just as much a Catholic as a non-Catholic, and the word “Catholic” has no substantive meaning whatsoever. You may as well call yourself a God-believing atheist.

      • Marsha

        JohnE, I agree with your points. My point is that before anyone accepts the teachings of any religion, that they do their own research. Jesus, when He was a teenager, studied all the religious teachings at the time and met with the religious leaders of the time and then formulated His own perspective and His own eventual teachings. He didn’t simply accept what was already being taught. I think everyone should do that rather than not question at all. A very famous philosopher once said, “question everything.” I agree with that.

        • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

          The only value of “questioning everything,” Marsha, is if you are prepared to accept that which is manifestly true, even if you’d like the truth to be otherwise. Perpetually questioning is a puerile refusal to accept truth. For Catholics, that does mean “because the Church defined it that way” is a sufficient answer when push comes to shove. Everyone should own their faith, no doubt, but if you are to be Catholic, if your process of seeking answers lands you at odds with the doctrine of the Church then you are wrong and need the humility to submit your belief to the Church’s teaching. Plain and simple. That’s Catholicism.

          • Marsha

            Tom, a true scientist never searches to prove what he or she already believes. I true searcher of the truth doesn’t care what the truth is but only wishes to determine, to the best of his or her ability, what is true. Your definition of Catholicism grinds any search for the truth to a halt, therefore our discussion regarding this is a waste of time.

        • Curious

          Marsha, You wrote, “Jesus, when He was a teenager, studied all the religious teachings at the time and met with the religious leaders of the time and then formulated His own perspective and His own eventual teachings.” Are you serious? Please, get a Bible, God’s Word and read it. Jesus did not EVER have to learn or study religious teachings. He did not have to formulate His own “understandings”. Jesus is Devine, and He has always and will always have Devine understanding of God’s teachings and GOd’s Laws, (which are His teachings). Unlike you, that wants us to question God and His Authority, Jesus taught us NEVER to question God’s Authority, His Laws, or His Descisions. We will follow God and not the “popular” crowd that you would like for us to follow. If you read the Bible, Jesus taught us this first hand. God Bless

          • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

            Curious— Marsha isn’t even Christian in any traditional sense if she really believes that. No tradition of Christianity holds that Christ did a deep soul-searching of that sort. It’s new-age claptrap. That’s why I basically ignore her.

          • Curious

            Tom, Thank you for your kind words. I knew this about “Marsha” from her/his earlier posts, but as my dearest friend, a priest, told me to never leave a person in ignorance of God. Always speak the Truth, Truth being God, (the Trinity), and this is planting seeds. He said to always clear things up and plant seeds of Truth. Some seeds will take and others will not, but it will always be in God”s time. Marsha may turn to God, or she/he may continue to turn her/his back away from God, but at least seeds of Truth have been planted for possible growth at some point in time. Thank you for your words though. Hopefully, my post did not “sound” like it came from a place of frustration because it did not. It actually comes from a place of sadness for “Marsha” coming to this site to purely try to lead people away from God. I feel for this person’s heart, and that gets to me, but I trust that God will use us that follow Him unconditionally as His vessels, and He will take care of it in His time and in His ways. Thank you again. God bless

          • Marsha

            Curious, if your beliefs bring you peace, then good for you.

          • Curious

            Marsha, I am very happy! Thank you! You see, what you believe in as your god is man. This will NEVER make you happy eternally. On the other hand, God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, (Trinity) is NOT a belief, THEY ARE. God is only TRUE happiness, even during earthly trials and devastation. Therefore, I don’t have beliefs, I have FAITH, and that faith IS TRUTH. Truth is my happiness. We are continuing to pray for your conversion as we pray for our continued conversion daily. God. Bless

    • Bruce

      Marsha has absolutely zero understanding of what the Church actually says about conscience, infallibility, and authority. Newman must be laughing and crying at the same time. Anyway, to start (but not to finish, for to correct your mistakes on these three topics would take a semester), you are not magisterial, authoritative, nor infallible.



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