A couple of related stories.
Consider this against the background of some clever tweets that are going around. Some wags post side by side images of something traditional and something liberal with the caption, “What young people want… What old people want young people to want.”
— CatholicBrit???? (@Englishpapist) March 24, 2018
Now, forward! (Which is the traditional way, after all.)
First, our friend Fr. Dwight Longenecker has a piece giving 10 reasons why liberal catholicism is doomed to fade away. Let’s see the first, part. Take note that the image heading the piece is an old, and I mean old, photo of the LCWR on the march! Slowly.
Ten Reasons Why Liberal Catholicism Will Fade Away
The late Cardinal George of Chicago [of happy memory] said, “Liberal Christianity is a failed experiment.” At this time in the church there seems to be a rise in the liberal or progressive wing of Catholicism. However, those who are concerned about this should keep several big picture aspects in mind.
First of all, our dear old Catholic Church, when it tries to keep up with the times, is invariably about twenty or thirty years behind the times. That is to say, when the Catholic Church started bringing in folk hymns and round churches and groovy priests, the trend had already pretty much reach a peak and was fading out.
The liberalism we are seeing in the Catholic Church at this time is not new. It is not fresh. It is not young. It is not innovative. It is old. It is passe. It is derivative. It is uninspiring.
It is a bunch of old folks who are either trying with one last gasp to resurrect the glory days of the sixties and seventies, or it is a few well meaning intellectuals who really do feel that climate change, neo-Marxism and the adaption of current sexual ideologies are the way to bring the church into the modern age.
Secondly, liberalism is always a protest movement. It always has to have something to campaign against. But now it has become the establishment default setting it has rather had the wind knocked out of its sails. Liberalism is driven by anger[That’s for sure! This is one of the reasons why libs are so humorless.] and if there is nothing to rage about you run out of gas.
Thirdly, liberal Christianity is, by definition an adaptive ideology. [It does precisely what Paul warns against: it seeks to conform to the world and the world’s ways.] It believes that to survive, Christianity has to adapt to every age and culture in which it finds itself. If the culture and age in which it finds itself is still residually Christian there’s no problem, but if the culture and age in which it finds itself is radically anti-Christian, then to adapt to the culture is to cease to be Christian. Thus we have liberal Catholics who, incredibly, support same sex marriage, abortion, remarriage after divorce and who knows what else that isn’t really part of the Christian religion
Fourth, liberal Christianity focusses more on this world than the next. It is concerned more with making this world a better place than preparing for a better place. People aren’t dumb. They soon realize that you don’t need to be religious to make the world a better place, so they sleep in on Sundays. Liberal Christianity is therefore self defeating. [Libs, as modernists, reduce the supernatural to the nature at every turn.]
With this in mind, here are ten reasons why, despite the present appearances, Catholic liberalism will shudder, fade out, flicker and die.
Check out the 10 reasons over there.
Next, at First Things there is a piece by Matthew Schmitz about the tone and spirit of the document from “young people” issues shortly ago as a lead up to the 2018 Synod.
Here’s a taste…
The document is supposed to have been written by young Catholics for the benefit of bishops, but it eerily repeats what certain bishops have long been saying. For instance, the “youths” declare: “Sometimes, in the Church, it is hard to overcome the logic of ‘it has always been done this way.’” But at the opening of the meeting, Francis had said the same thing: “You provoke us to break free of the logic of ‘it has always been done this way.” This is not a dialogue; it is an echo.
This makes the document significant—and unsettling. The document manifests an aversion to whatever is sacred, holy, divine. It laments that “sometimes we feel that the sacred appears to be something separated from our daily lives.” But that is the precisely the meaning of the word “sacred”—that which is set apart.
Remember the tweets? “What young Catholics want. What old Catholics want young Catholics to want.”
Reduction of the supernatural to the natural.
Conforming to the world.
On the other hand, we see demographic studies which suggest that in a few years, the number of Catholics attending Mass will plummet.
It’s not liberalism.
Several things are staring us in the face, however.
Alas. As I have written before and I will have to write again, there are those in the Church who would rather tear churches and institutions down, burn the wreckage and then sow the ground with salt rather than try reconnecting to our roots.