QUAERITUR: Why give the liberals so much attention?

Quite a few have asked in e-mail, some in comments, why I should give so much attention to liberal dinosaurs such as Richard McBrien of Notre Dame, to dissident publications such as NCR, America, RU-468 (aka The Tablet).

I wonder about that too.  Even as I post about them, I wonder if I am not just propping them up a little longer by giving the impression more people read them with attention than actually do.

But no… some response must be made.

The way I figure, they are rather like the old Batman villains.

Batman villains are clearly ridiculous, but you still have to defeat them.  They hurt people.

Editors of the NCR, Tablet, America, Commonweal

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. greg the beachcomber says:


  2. Fr. John Mary says:

    Father Z: Thank you for making us aware of all of this. I think (what do I know, really?) that your posts on the NCReporter articles have deluged them with comments froom your readers that people need to hear.
    And maybe THAT’S why they shut down the combox on McBrien’s diatribe. Just some speculation.
    But thank you. I would not have known about it unless I read it here; NCReporter is not my “thing”, if ya’ know what I mean?

  3. MrTipsNZ says:

    Perhaps then, from left to right, the photo above could be:

    Sr Joan Chittister, Fr Richard McBrien, Fr Richard Rohr and Fr John Jenkins?

    And does WDTPRS need an equivalent bat-signal?

  4. Agapified says:

    Just remember.. right or wrong, these are brothers and sisters in Christ.

  5. MrTips: I think there was one… made by the official WDTPRS photoshopper Vincenzo. I wonder where that is? Long time ago, now.

  6. Jackie L says:

    I came from a very NCR friendly type of parish in my childhood, inertia was why I was there and was what kept me there, I can’t say I ever bought into too much of what was going on in the church and I now attend a TLM. I think that giving these articles attention could be very helpful for someone who is now in the position I once was.

  7. RichR says:


    The reason it is important that the response be made is because there may be a few souls out there who really need an answer to this drivel, but can’t articulate it well enough. They find your blog entry through some search engine, and they are given peace of mind. With the internet, an answer just needs to be written – after that, it is easily found

  8. lacrossecath says:

    Great picture! Father Z, I like that you reach out to non-continuityites. Although it is difficult to have an honest conversation with them, it shows that Catholics need to find the common IDENTITY which we have lost.

  9. shoofoolatte says:

    I hate to be the one to tell you, Fr. Z., but for many of us the NCR and America are lifeboats. They articulate well our own ways of understanding and living the Catholic Faith. Much as you would like to “correct” them with red letters, they are not wrong – just different. We are brothers and sisters, and like brothers and sisters, we see and do things differently. The trick is learning to listen, support and love each other, despite the differences. And, radical as it may seem, we really need each other. I like the way Merton puts it: “we are all more or less wrong”.

  10. Jordanes says:

    They’re not lifeboats, shoofoolatte, they’re end-of-life hospice beds.

    The Ark of Salvation is the only boat I want or need. The Ark has not sunk and can never sink, as your lifeboat analogy might suggest. Anyone adrift in a lifeboat is not on the Ark, is not cruising to our heavenly port.

  11. Traductora says:

    These people are totally irrelevant and death will carry them away shortly. However, they are still effective with many of the USCCB bishops, still effective with the media, and still effective with our current government. I would never read the NCR or America on my own because they have no connection with the Catholic Faith and it infuriates me to see them depicting their Marxist-tinged Protestantism as the official voice of the Catholic Church. So anybody who can wade in the swamp, shower and then present us with a few examples of the mating calls of the swamp denizens is doing us a favor. It wouldn’t matter, except that these swamp denizens are much more influential than we are, so we have to know what they’re doing. Thank you for carrying out this heroic task!

  12. medievalist says:

    I read NCR et al. daily, consider their “interesting” points, and head swiftly in the other direction.

  13. pcstokell says:

    No Eartha Kitt? For shame!!

  14. Richard says:

    What happened to “love thy neighbor” or “love those who hate you” or “go the extra mile” etc. Radical ideas by a radical – God.

    People – God is the great “I am” – the Alpha and the Omega – the All.

    If He, in his wisdom, touches some of His children in one way and speaks to some of His children in another (any parents out there who have more than one child know that one approaches them differently even while maintaining the values that are true) then let us respect the Father in His wisdom and try to respect His reaching out to His people.

  15. Hidden One says:

    Shoofoolatte, NCR and America may articulate your way of understanding the Catholic faith very well. That doesn’t change the fact that your way is wrong.

    Incidentally, I’m quite certain that there isn’t a single orthodox Catholic who actually needs America and NCR. John Allen (I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt) could probably find employment elsewhere if NCR went out of business.

  16. chironomo says:

    And for some, groups like Call To Action and Roman Catholic Womynpriests exemplify their way of practicing the Catholic faith. But as Hidden One already noted, that doesn’t mean they are right.

    The idea of a “liberal Catholic” seems about as logical as an “Orthodox Unitarian”. I have come to wonder if there really are such things, or does one have to denounce the substance of the noun to live up to the expectations of the adjective…

  17. Fr. John Mary says:

    How can we be in communion with brothers and sisters who do not accept the primacy of Peter (the Holy Father) or the ‘de fide’ dogma of the Church?
    That is my question.
    Fine, we love everyone in Christ, yes, that is our call.
    But to put up with distortions and errors, “can’t we all get along”, when we have no ‘common ground’ (barf!..sorry!)…how does this make any sense?
    Isn’t charity in truth the calling of all to the Truth in Christ in His Holy Church?

  18. shoofoolatte says:

    Our common ground is the Eucharist, Fr. John Mary. We don’t really have to get along, but the Eucharist makes us one with Christ, despite our distortions and errors.

  19. shoofoolatte says:

    P.S. whoever said it was supposed to “make sense”?

  20. Fr. John Mary says:

    shoofoolatte: HOW? I don’t get it.

  21. Girgadis says:

    I would submit to the dissidents who visit here that love and charity demand that we correct our wayward brothers and sisters. Some assume that it is God leading Father McBrien and those who espouse views similar to his. I believe the Great Deceiver is the pied piper leading anyone who would call Eucharistic Adoration “backward” and mock priests who actually look and behave like priests. To borrow a phrase from Father Corapi, there was a time in my life when spiritually, I had a foot in hell and the other on a banana peel. It’s not only cathartic for me to share that but I do so in hope of preventing others from making the same mistake, namely, to pay any heed at all to “scholars” like McBrien . Someday I will know the name of the soul who called upon the Holy Spirit to intercede for me. Until then, I have a duty to fulfill God’s will perfectly and to influence others to do the same. Father McBrien has this terribly wrong and what’s worse, as a priest with a voice, he is leading others astray with him. Don’t let yourself be one of them.

  22. david andrew says:

    Scripture clearly teaches us that if someone is in error, they should be corrected privately. If they do not receive the correction, then take several “brothers” (or in this case shall we say “faithful to the Truth”) with you to bear witness. If they persist in their refusal to acknowledge their fault, they are to be shunned. A paraphrase, but the basic upshot of the scripture passage nevertheless.

    The Church teaches that it is an act of mercy to correct the ignorant.

    Having said both of these things, either the scriptures and the Church were and are playing fast and loose with the rules, and correction wasn’t ever necessary in the first place, or there is a Truth that must be defended and maintained, and those who fail to see the Truth and accept the received Tradition as taught through the succession of the apostles through the Holy Father and the Magisterium must be corrected when they are wrong.

    And, this is ultimately done out of charity and love for the Faithful. Is it therefore an act of hate or an act of love to correct a member of the faithful when they go astray? Is it an act of hate or an act of love to protect others against the poison and falsehood of those who would preach heresy or teach a philosophy, concept or doctrine contrary to the Truth?

    God may be “radical”, but never contradictory. And it’s always been the favored trick of the Evil One to take the Truths and quote scripture in ways that he knows well and turn them on their heads so that those trapped in sin stay that way.

  23. Someone above referred to NCR and America as "lifeboats".

    I can agree.  I am sure that is what they are… in comparison with something else.

  24. TKS says:

    From my own experience, I spent many years letting everyone just ‘be’ so that I didn’t ‘judge.’ While there can be a fine line between ‘judging’ and ‘objecting,’ there IS a line. I’m afraid a few years ago we were so inclusive that there was no ‘wrong’ anymore. Now I wonder constantly why no one who has the power to do so doesn’t correct these blatant wrongs.

  25. Fr. John Mary says:

    Some good news (for some, not for others):http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/voice-faithful-critically-low-funds

    I am speechless.

  26. ThomasM says:

    TKS, don’t worry about judging people. Liberals do it all the time. Just read some Father McBrien. I kind of feel sorry for him. Just like the NCR, McBrien is fighting the last war. Even on the Notre Dame Campus hardly anyone takes him seriously anymore. He’s known primarily now for his prowess at the dinner table, not theology. Tom

  27. catholicmidwest says:


    Look around you. God is a God of order. The world is supposed to make sense, even if we understand and employ it imperfectly. Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of logic or philosophy!! Like it or not reality is not just a “lifestyle” or some kind of postmodern crapshoot. I feel sorry for you if you think it is.

    The fact of the matter is this:
    You may want to argue and differ. A lot of people do nowdays. It’s fashionable. However, at the end of the day, something is the case. What is, is. And neither you nor I can affect that one iota by wishing it were otherwise–or by pontificating and protesting, and generally putting on the 20th century political routine in church.

    Besides, the historical Catholic church–you know, the one in ROME–holds the deposit of revelation which is the foundation of our faith and our knowledge of God, as well the framework and raw material for reasoning about the world (for Catholics and non-Catholics alike whether they know it or not). So if I were you, I wouldn’t discount what the Church tells you so quickly.

  28. John Enright says:

    Father, there’s always a risk of paying to much attention to the moronic comments of idiots, but I think that there is a greater risk of allowing such comments to go unchallenged.

  29. John Enright says:

    I meant to say “too” in my post, not “to.” Sorry.

  30. rgarcia149 says:

    Exposing these wolves in sheep’s clothing is praiseworthy. Most of all because unfortunately
    most average Catholics believe and take what these people say as the “main stream” view.

  31. nlunsford says:

    Since someone mentioned the need for a “Z Signal” I whipped one up last night just for fun.

    Since I don’t know if it is possible to post an image, the link is below:

  32. Fr. John Mary says:

    For all of you with the time and intestinal fortitude, I suggest you look at the NCReporter article/comments on the “reform of the reform”…boy, do we have a lot of work to do!
    And yet, some very articulate and solid comments.

  33. Fr. John Mary says:

    Oh, and I forgot to include this: FLOOD them with comments!

  34. Tom A. says:

    Someone mentioned that we must remember that they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. I seriously try to think of them as that, but I am always reminded of the verse where Christ says, “He who does not gather with me, scatters.” To me, much of what the left has to offer is confusion and doubt. Truly, in many ways they scatter the flock. Not to say the left is the only side guilty. The schismatic right does a good job too. The point is, I suppose, the key to knowing if you are gathering or scattering is the Chruch. Stay true to her teachings, say the black, do the red.

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