You can argue with a Marxist, but not with a Catholic progressive.

Today at The Catholic Thing there is an essay by Francis X. Maier about how Francis is perceived by the left and by the right (to use rapid, sketch terms).

In the main, he seems to be willing – as Catholics ought – to cut Francis some slack. He makes the point that Catholics love their popes. My phrase, but something he clearly expressed: “Like many American Catholics, respect for the Holy Father is hardwired into my DNA.” He is right to underscore such a thing, for it is incumbent on Catholics to love. We are not, however, commanded to like our neighbor… any neighbor, far or near.

What struck me was Maier’s bit toward the end, which makes a point I’ve been making here for a while.  My emphases and comments:

The pope’s closing remarks to the 2015 synod on the family came across to many of those present as petulant and scolding. [This is the synod that was clearly “rigged”, even to the point of concluding documents being written already as committees met, books were stolen from participants’ mailboxes, and Card. Kasper’s curious ravings were on high display.] And his promoters in the years since have, to put it mildly, lacked charity in dealing with anyone seen as “conservative,” and thus inimical to the Francis pontificate’s more progressive approach to the issues of Church and world.

That word – progressive – warrants some scrutiny. It brings to mind the philosopher Augusto Del Noce’s prescient essay, “On Catholic Progressivism” (collected here). Writing in the turmoil of the late 1960s, he noted that, whereas popes like Leo XIII had sought “to bring the modern world into line with the eternal principles,” progressivism and related forms of religious thought pursue the “exact inverse, since they seek to bring Catholicism into line with the modern world.”

He added that, while [NB…]

. . .a discussion with a Marxist intellectual is possible, it is not so with a Catholic progressive. Not because we despise him, but because he despises his critic, treating him already from the start as somebody who stops at mere formulaic intellectualism. Therefore, one does not discuss with a Catholic progressive, but in front of him, just hoping that our arguments may provide an opportunity to stimulate his critical reflection.

A resounding YES!

The attack on traditional Catholic sacred liturgical worship does not stem merely from a desire to “bring Catholicism into line with the modern world”, which is the agenda of the virtually papalotrous left who have anew become high from sniffing the spirit of Vatican II.  It’s not just that they understand that the content of the traditional forms of worship is a constant check on their project to convert the Church into an NGO with themselves as the powerbrokers.  They don’t like the people who like traditional liturgy.   It’s the people they are targeting.  Thus, the additional twists of cruelty in their machinations.

This is the same view that brought forth from Hillary such phrases as “basket of deplorables”.

Just a little more of Maier’s piece, the peroration:

Times have changed since Del Noce. But not necessarily for the better. One of his main concerns with Catholic progressivism was its tendency to downplay and surrender metaphysics, leading to the loss of the supernatural and a religion of purely horizontal ethics.  In other words, a flattened out “faith” entirely explainable by social science and foreseen more than a century ago by the father of sociology, Auguste Comte.  [The essence of Modernism is the reduction of the supernatural to the natural.]

Del Noce also noted, oddly, that “If we recall that Comte envisioned an alliance with the Jesuits, [!] and their conversion to positivism, we may well say that, with respect to some of today’s Jesuits, he was truly a good prophet. Only his timing was off.”


Note that bit about the surrender of metaphysics.  This is the thrust of Thomas Stark’s difficult but important explanation about how Kasper, and those around Francis, have substituted philosophy with politics.  They don’t have objective underpinnings, premises and procedures.  They have polls.  And they lie with their polls, as is evident in the claims that Traditionis custodes was founded on a survey of bishops.  They had a predetermined outcome in mind and then used politics, purely horizontal “ethics” to ground that outcome.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. MaterDeicolumbae says:

    Father Z:
    Re your insert in this blog:
    “[The essence of Modernism is the reduction of the supernatural to the natural.]”-This hits the nail on its head re progressives.
    I’m so tired of them seeing themselves as “cool” because they glom onto the latest, trendy heresies which gives them an excuse to despise us true-to-the-Magisterium Marian Catholics.
    Meanwhile, Our Lady expects me to pray for them, as a spiritual work of mercy, which I will do…saving souls is our duty.

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  4. WVC says:

    This is the dominant mentality of our current time.

    The progressives don’t actually believe in the transgender movement. They continue, in private (and often in public) to refer to binary genders. They sell items for men/women and boys/girls. They don’t use made up pronouns in their normal discussions. They don’t actually believe in it.

    But they know that they HATE the kind of people who oppose it, so they use it as a stick to club people with.

    The progressives don’t believe that COVID is actually very dangerous. Among the sheeple, yes, there are some who have been panicked into hysteria, but the elites don’t really believe it. This is why they always take off their masks in public, full well knowing they’ll be photographed. This why someone like Gavin Newsome can demand everyone vaccinate their children while his own daughter remains unvaccinated. They don’t really believe it.

    But they know that they HATE the people who aren’t afraid of it and who oppose vaccination mandates. So they use it was a club to beat them down. They know that those kind of people are the ones they want poor, penniless, jobless, and ostracized from society.

    Progressives and the Latin Mass are the same thing.

    It’s not about principles or ideas or facts or truth or the common good or science or anything like that. It’s about progessives and elites figuring out that these are convenient ways to identify the ones they hate and punish them.

  5. Unwilling says:

    “don’t have objective underpinnings, premises and procedures”
    Yes, it has always (since the Greeks?) seemed to philosophical disputants that subjectivity was a fallacy in argument and a failure in conclusion. But now [not here, of course, but even in prevalent conservative discussion] authentic feelings are essential in argument and a warrant in policy. Logic and truth are patriarchy!

  6. Cincture says:

    del Noce is re-discovered.
    A short synopsis of his thoughts may be found here:
    Mr Lancellotti also translated del Noce’ Crisis in Modernity, which contains his writings after 1968, having translated the work cited by Maier separately containing his works of the early sixties.

    Regarding Maier’s cogent comment: “Times have changed since Del Noce. But not necessarily for the better. One of his main concerns with Catholic progressivism was its tendency to downplay and surrender metaphysics, leading to the loss of the supernatural and a religion of purely horizontal ethics”

    In other words, catholic progressivists veer in the wrong direction in concentating on socio-political matters to the exclusion of concentrating on the salvation of the soul; transcendence.
    By doing so, they improperly embrace of their own often ignorant accord the secularization inherent to the ‘Marxist’ line: 1) As to the relationship between nature and grace, and 2) removal of the Church and its guidance in modern society.

    Regarding 1): del Noce quotes Acquinas: “Gratia perficit naturam, non tollit.”
    Yet today’s aforementioned wayward sons and daughters conclude that nature alone is capable of fully autonomous self-realization.
    Regarding 2): It is maintained that we moderns no longer need the Church to serve as socio-political substitute to save mankind; we can take it from here. And by the way, in doing so, we also don’t need your religion at all.

    The Marxist knows these things, because that’s what they stand for. The catholic progressive often has no clue, and an approach other than discussion may be warranted, as Maier quotes del Noce.

  7. Cincture says:

    This reminded me on this topic, of Pope Pius X’s Encyclical Notre Charge Apostolique, August 15, 1910, in combatting the Sillon, ( and relevant to their ilk today), and to ask this list if they know why it does not appear on the Vatican’s own website:

    It can be read here:

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