Benedict’s little dig at liberals

In his new book the Holy Father has a dig at liberals.

I am sure this was directly at the Fishwrap. Aren’t you? o{];¬)

In some portrayals of the figure of Jesus, the emphasis is placed almost exclusively on the radical aspects, on Jesus’ challenge to false piety. Thus Jesus is presented as a liberal or a revolutionary. It is true that in his mission as Son, Jesus did introduce a new phase in man’s relationship to God, opening up a new dimension of human intimacy with God. But this was not an attack on Israel’s piety. Jesus’ freedom is not the freedom of the liberal. It is the freedom of the Son, and thus the freedom of the truly devout person. (p. 120-121)

Bottom line: Jesus was no liberal.

US hardcover HERE.  Kindle HERE. Unabridged audio HERE. Large print HERE.
UK hardcover HERE. Kindle HERE.  Large print HERE.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Benedict XVI, Liberals, Lighter fare and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. catholicmidwest says:

    This is true. This is the result of starting out with erroneous pre-suppositions, those things that underlie the hermeneutic of rupture that Benedict XVI talks about. When you start out with fallacies about what faith is, and how history is a part of salvation and about the nature of inspired revelation and the community, these kinds of “Jesus is a hippie” things are the consequence. Any time you see things like this, you can pretty much tell that there’s some very haphazard scholarship going on. Unfortunately, this stuff is very common now. It’s sad because it misses the point so badly on something that can be so beneficial and rewarding to the Church when it’s done correctly.

  2. frjim4321 says:

    [Lupus in fabula!] Well, it’s hard to know for sure what the targets are because there are not citations.

    (As a side comment, the site is acting strangely today, particularly the news feeds and incomplete posts, most likely because of the scheduled maintenance.) [I have been checking with different browsers and it seems okay. It seems faster, too.]

  3. benedictgal says:

    Just ordered it through your link, Fr. Z! I ordered two, one for me and one for my parochial vicar!!!

    [Thanks for that! That really helps. Everyone wins!]

  4. benedetta says:


  5. CatholicMD says:

    Fr. Jim – I’m pretty sure you know who he’s talking about. I bet you have several of their books.

  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    It’s not really a dig. It’s just true. The freedom of Christ or of one of His saints is the freedom of doing what is right, or multiple surprising things that are right. It is a much larger sort of freedom than merely civic or personal freedoms can ever be.

    It is the freedom of love used like a high horsepower engine for a race car, instead of love flopping around and crashing like a car steered in too many bad directions at once.

  7. frjim4321 says:

    [Lupus in fabula!]

    Is that something like “speak of the devil?”

    [I have been checking with different browsers and it seems okay. It seems faster, too.]

    I also thought it was faster, and my Dashboard thinks it is faster also.

    Okay, what was not working for me was not the speed, but from my iGoogle portal I would see newsfeeds for this blog, click on them and be told that the page does not exist. I would attribute that possibly to the WordPress datapack being in the process of backups or refreshes. Not a big deal.

    More to the point of the thread, I find it interesting that the author, who is usually so precise with language, opts for a rather popular and narrow understanding of the term “liberal;” also I would be interested in how he handles the equal and opposite errors of those popularly and narrowly labeled as “conservative.” I think many would agree that there are things we need to be liberal with and things that are worth conserving. I’d be surprised if this author would buy into such a false dichotomy, and am sure that the quote on these two pages is given balance elsewhere in the book.

  8. chantgirl says:

    Hmmm, perhaps I will make an anonymous gift of this book to my neighbor down the street who has a “Jesus was a liberal” bumper sticker on his car. On another note Fr Z, do you get a commission on just the item that you have linked on Amazon, or do you get a commission of my whole order if I go through your link to Amazon? I do a lot of my Christmas shopping on Amazon ;)

  9. AnAmericanMother says:

    frjim swings for the fence . . . and misses!

    The Holy Father (whom you so coyly label “the author”) is talking about exactly your habit of forcing political liberal thought into theology and church governance. The results are as he describes because the political labels cannot be applied here. It’s not politics, it’s Right and Wrong. Either you are orthodox, faithful and obedient . . . or you are not. And when you are not, you get the fake Jesus created in a politician’s image.

  10. JKnott says:

    Good comment AnAmericanMother.
    I might add:
    Dr. Don Felix Sarda Y Salvany
    Liberalism is the root of heresy, the tree of evil in whose branches all the harpies of infidelity find ample shelter; it is today the evil of all evils. (Ch. 4).

    “The theater, literature, public and private morals are all saturated with obscenity and impurity. The result is inevitable; a corrupt generation necessarily begets a revolutionary generation. Liberalism is the program of naturalism. Free-thought begets free morals, or immorality. Restraint is thrown off and a free rein given to the passions. Whoever thinks what he pleases will do what he pleases. Liberalism in the intellectual order is license in the moral order. Disorder in the intellect begets disorder in the heart, and vice-versa. Thus does Liberalism propagate immorality, and immorality Liberalism.” (Ch. 26).

    Liberalism “is, therefore, the radical and universal denial of all divine truth and Christian dogma, the primal type of all heresy, and the supreme rebellion against the authority of God and His Church. As with Lucifer, its maxim is, ‘I will not serve.'” (Ch. 3).

    “Liberalism, whether in the doctrinal or practical order, is a sin. In the doctrinal order, it is heresy, and consequently a mortal sin against faith. In the practical order, it is a sin against the commandments of God and of the Church, for it virtually transgresses all commandments. To be more precise: in the doctrinal order, Liberalism strikes at the very foundations of faith; it is heresy radical and universal, because within it are comprehended all heresies. In the practical order it is a radical and universal infraction of the divine law, since it sanctions and authorizes all infractions of that law.” (Ch. 3).

  11. tgarcia2 says:

    I wonder if Fr. Jim is in the cupboard in his Diocese….I know of a few here, and people are amazed that they are Priests to begin with

  12. Sissy says:

    tgarcia2: I’m not quite sure what you mean by “in the cupboard” but Fr. Jim tells us he has an Obama sticker on his car, if that answers your question.

  13. frjim4321 says:

    I don’t quite get the “cupboard” reference either. That’s new to me. I think for slang to work it has to be understood by more than one person.

    Site Report: Around 8:55 PM Central this site was totally down as far as my iPhone 5 was concerned.

  14. frjim4321 says:

    9:21 PM CT, iPhone 5 (Safari) is not opening this site … all other sites opening no problem.

  15. Elodie says:

    iPhone 4 user here. It’s been hard for me to access this site (and only this site) all day. Just tried once more and the full version popped up, not the mobile version.

    What do you know? I agree with Fr. Jim on something!!

  16. frjim4321 says:

    What do you know? I agree with Fr. Jim on something!!

    There’s hope for you, Elodie~!

  17. tgarcia2 says:

    in the cupboard=when a Priest disobeys or ticks off the Bishop, Bishop assigns said Priest from, let’s take my Diocese, a parish in El Paso to one in Marfa TX or Presdio TX or puts them in a parish that has no relvance what-so-ever for 15 odd years.

  18. Joshua08 says:

    It should probably be noted that the meaning of liberal here is not the very peculiar to America and different than historical use political label “liberal” we say of, say Pelosi, but Liberalism. I suppose most Democrats are either social liberals (meaning that version of liberalism developed in and through the progressive movement) or some sort of post-liberal. Whereas, what we generally call “Republican” ideology is liberalism, or what in Europe would be called liberal-conservatism (the Liberal Party in Australia, for instance, is the closest to the GOP there, they are the pro-family, etc party)

    I would think the meaning of liberal here is precisely the philosophical idea of libertarian freedom as opposed to “freedom for excellence” as say Servais Pinaeckers would call it. Sure many “liberals” (as we use the label) use that concept (when it suits them), but it is more championed (at least consistently) by libertarians. You see this from Rand to Rothbard to Mises. They all advance what in the 19th century was called liberalism, but without the conservative elements one finds say in the general GOP. I tend to find purer expression of liberalism among many who would call themselves conservative, indeed many would call themselves “classical liberals” The Left and Right in this country are rooted in the liberal tradition, with perhaps some on the left entering the post-liberal (socialist, quasi-fascist, etc) ideologies. Russel Kirk and others like him are the closest to being non-liberal on the right, and appropriate much more traditional conservatism than is common today.

    We should also bear in mind that we shouldn’t be misapplying these terms, either in the philosophical meaning of Liberalism (of which is our general mileu) or the vague, and somewhat changing political sense, to ecclesial use. Benedict XV was very adamant about not using such labels.

  19. frjim4321 says:

    I’ve been stumped for a while trying to figure out what kind of ecclesiology would permit a judgement of a canonically erected parish as having “no relevance what-so-ever.”

    Most bishops are savvy enough to distinguish between a priest who is a chronic malcontent, unproductive and slovenly pastor from an upbeat, dynamic and hard working pastor who has a few questions/concerns about tangential issues. Most bishops have more parishes to provide for than pastorate-qualified priests, so it’s unlikely except under the handful of hyperorthodox episcopal zealots that an effective pastor would be moved to the boonies except for grave cause. Bishops need pastors and most are wise enough to pick their battles judiciously.

    That being said, I don’t think you could call a place that’s around 835 households and growing, running well in the black and active from pre-K through seniors and a lot of outreach to be a “cupboard.” Though I would be happy to go where the ordinary asks me to go. There are no irrelevant parishes here.

  20. Michelle F says:

    @ tgarcia2:

    Around here we call that “exile.”

    Also, around here it seems to be used against priests who are too traditionalistic: the ones who believe in God, who “say the black and do the red,” who appear in public wearing clerical attire, etc.

  21. tgarcia2 says:

    @Michelle F, I heard that term from a friend of mine who “escaped” seminary. Most famous priest where I’m at that got exiled was Rev. Michael Rodriguez and his brother for alleging they mishandled thousands of dollars in church money….

    Prayers to things reversing in your part of the country soon.

  22. Michelle F says:

    @ tgarcia2,

    Thank you. Our current bishop will reach retirement age in 5 years and 10 months, and I and my friends are hoping and praying that Rome sends us a strong, orthodox man next time.

  23. benedetta says:

    Once again establishing that liberalism has nothing coherent to offer the Faith, frjim4321 would MUCH rather discuss whether he is in the cupboard in his diocese than the substance of this post. Ahh, the luxurious life of a trolling liberal priest who’s got no blog of his own…

  24. Midwest St. Michael says:

    LOL benedetta!

    Well said.

    The “trolling liberal priest” you mention reminds me of this video…


  25. Supertradmum says:

    frjim4321, Where are these ” hyperorthodox episcopal zealots “? Jist wonderin’….

  26. wmeyer says:

    AAM said: frjim swings for the fence . . . and misses!

    The Holy Father (whom you so coyly label “the author”) is talking about exactly your habit of forcing political liberal thought into theology and church governance.

    Yes, and as usual, Pope Benedict’s use of language was precise.

  27. TomG says:

    Supertradmum: it seems more likely to me that any “moving to the boonies” would be endured by what frjim would call “hyperorthodox” priests – at the hands of the Weaklands of the world.

  28. benedetta says:

    MSM, very funny! How very beige….

  29. Mark Ingoglio says:

    Fr. Jim,

    I have two questions:

    1. What, in your view, are the indispensable qualities of a man who would ordinarily be “pastor-material?”

    2. Would it be fair to say that a priest in your diocese may do as he pleases, without the likelihood of paternal/fraternal correction from, or reassignment by the ordinary, provided he has a positive outlook, people are generally pleased with him, the books are in the black, the school has a large enrollment, there is extensive social outreach, et cetera?


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