Is it a distortion and unfair to label priests who are orthodox and faithful to the magisterium as "conservative"?


I ask this, because I regularly run into church people who label outspoken faithful priests as “conservative”, often prefixed by “ultra-” or “very” conservative. This always seems to carry the connotation of being an extremists and one must be cautious. I personally associate orthodoxy as desireable and positive for one’s spiritual health.


To label someone, a person must have some idea formed in their minds as to why they apply it. If you see a woman dressed like a street walker, you form an opinion. If you hear a youngster scream obscenities at their parent, you form an opinion. If you hear a priest give homilies that have content of fire and brimstone …

… yes, you form an opinion. Nobody goes about casually saying these things without a probable cause. I know an elderly priest who assists in parishes when the pastor is away, and we get lengthly, and I do mean lengthly, homilies. As I look around the church seeing people squirm, looking at their watches, and feeling their pain myself from having to listen to words that bring the spirit down rather than edify, it is easy to decide that he is ultra something-or-other.

For the record, his mass is very beautiful, but his homilies ought to center on the scriptures of the day, IMO.


Yes - it is easy, and quite usual, for priests to be orthodox without being conservative (whatever that may mean - it’s an ambiguous word). Conversely, one can easily be conservative without being orthodox: conservatism is as easy a way to Hell to any other.

It’s silly to chuck labels around, since one can easily be conservative in some ways, but non-conservative in others. To call people conservative tout court, is to imply that they are conservative in all respects - which is often not the case. Besides, conservative by what standard ? Much of what passes for conservatism in Catholic doctrine today, would have been downright heresy by the standards of an earlier time. Today’s heretic or dangerous thinker is often greeted as tomorrow’s pillar of orthodoxy - Cardinal Newman & St. John of the Cross are two examples of “suspected” Catholics who came to be appreciated & honoured once they were dead.

All too often, labels & slogans are replacement for thought - & that is not at all healthy. Bigotry & ignorance, OTOH, thrive on these replacements for thought. These ugly qualities have no place in a Christian Church.

The problem with “canonising” any single form of fidelity - & fidelity is not the same thing as any of the “-isms”, just as it is not the same as “conservatism” - is that one can become oblivious to the dangers it poses, because it suits one’s own outlook. Another problem with giving any of these “-isms” in the Church a privileged status, is that of division & divisiveness: it should be enough that all are Christians, & all are Catholics: any division of Catholic against Catholic is utterly to be rejected.


Catholicism that is faithful to the Magisterium transcends the conservative-liberal dichotomy. Conservative and liberal are just finite boxes that people stuff themselves into. Orthodoxy is another animal entirely. It is spiritually liberating, not reductionistic.


So, orthodox is preferable over heterodox, is preferable over dissident, is preferable over heretic. Conservative and liberal are simply political labels that may or may nor be indicative of one’s othodoxy, i.e., fidelity to the magisterium in matters of faith and morals. Did I get that right?


It seems good enough to me.


I think it would be great if a priest like that ended his homily, “So if you think my homily is long and painful to sit through, wait until you get to hell! Repent, ye heathens!”


Q: What do I call a person who is orthodox and faithful to the magisterium?
A: I call them holy.


I was dismayed (to say the least) when I found out one of our local Pastoral Associates and DRE promotes “Sr.” Joan Chittister’s work (hands out literature and seems to be a devotee).

Other than pray for true conversion and return to full orthodoxy and faithfulness to the Magisterium, and trying to live the Catholic life, what can or should be done about her? I mean, in her position, she is likely misleading at least some, probably teaching that women should be allowed to become ordained priests, that kind of thing.

I would think the bishop would be aware of the situation; should I (perhaps along with a few others) write to him and voice our concern?

I don’t want to see anyone lose their job, but promoting heterodoxy shouldn’t be tolerated.

God bless,


That depends on what kind of bishop you have. People I know who have complain to their bishop have never accomplish what they hoped for. I suspect that most bishops are inundated with complaints. Given the recent scandals in our Church, I don’t expect a lot of action. Also, beware of the connections the DRE and the PA may have with the bishop. Hopefully, your identity would remain unanimous.

Promoting heterodoxy shouldn’t be tolerated but sadly it is. Truly, have faith. Be the example of the virtuous woman. Many of those dissenters are dark within. Their anger and disgust only repels. The light and hope that will radiate from you and others like you will illuminate the way for others. With prayer, nothing is impossible.


As a Catholic Deacon, whats wrong with being conservative.? I do consider myself orthodox and conservative. That means to me that I believe, teach and practice only what the church believes and teaches, and do not try to twist it to determine how far I can go without sinning. Yes, I hope and pray that I am conservative and orthodox.
Deacon Ed B


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