Let's define "liberal Catholic"

There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what a “liberal Catholic” is.

My understanding is that a liberal Catholic is someone who claims to be a practicing Catholic, and yet is in disagreement with Church teaching in one or more important areas such as:

*]Sodomy and same-sex “marriage”
*]Fornication and other sins of impurity (including the sin of impurity)
*]Hell and sin in general
*]The exclusive claims of Christianity

These people may be Catholic by virtue of baptism, but they are not practicing Catholics; they are lapsed Catholics. If they claim to be practicing Catholics, then they are either lying or delusional, because every claim (including Jesus’s claim to be God and the Church’s claim to be God’s voice) is either the truth, a lie, or a delusion, and that claim is certainly not the truth.

Does this definition make sense?

I’d add Ordaing women and homosexual attempts at marriage to your list.

Thanks so much for doing this, btw!

The term "liberal’ is a broad brush to be painting with, I think it would help to narrow down your terminology. The way that I see it, a liberal Catholic is one whom is more open to newer theologies, and Ideas - but then I rarely use the term “liberal Catholic” when in conversation with other Catholics.
For an instance, I feel that the post VII is substantially more liberal then the Church had been previous to VII, so this would encompass the majority of the Church… Not all of these “liberal Catholics” are dissentient in their nature, such as some of the more progressive Catholics whom espouse a theology that clearly contradicts our Magisterium.

I would also add “Catholics” who oppose Church tradition when and where ever possible, and take modernistic stances on church issues (e. g. denying there is a crises in the Church), or have modernistic understandings of Church teachings (e.g. Believing that because of invincible ignorance everybody can now go to heaven).

I feel like there are many Catholics with such modernistic tendencies that they seem protestant.:eek:

God Bless and Ave Maria!

“liberal” would generally mean to me people that are moving away from the traditional, conservative views of Holy Mother Church. I would reserve this term primarily for political issues such as abortion, euthanasia, taxes, etc.

Pretty much everything else I would call people “Cafeteria Catholics”–those to just pick and choose whatever they want to believe in. The attitude of “let’s make everyone their own church” I would include people who don’t desire the beauty of the Mass, don’t believe in the True Presence, want women priests and liturgical dance.

Actually, I would prefer to call them heretics, but that may be seen as a little unPC.

You are, I presume, defining ‘liberal Catholic’ as in, theologically liberal, rather than politically liberal? Theological ‘liberalism,’ of course, being juxtaposed to theological ‘orthodoxy,’ as opposed to political liberalism vs. political conservatism.

Because one can obviously be an orthodox Catholic and subscribe to Keynesian economic theory, or favor less US intervention in foreign, polocy, higher capital gains taxes, and hold what are commonly understood as being liberal political views on the environment, foreign policy, etc. One can also, of course, be quite theologically liberal while being politically conservative.

Generally, when I think of theological liberalism, I think of, say, not belieivng the actual resurrection of Christ (maybe believing Jesus was ‘just a good guy’), not believing in the divine inspiration of scripture, flouting Church teaching, etc, intersecting of course with the political realm on some issues, most notably abortion.

OK, my definition is any Catholic who can read the National Catholic Reporter for 15 minutes without becoming either infuriated or ill.

But the problem with this language is that you then have no way of talking about sincere disagreements as to how to interpret Catholic teaching. This isn’t a sharp dichotomy, because one part of Catholic teaching that has to be interpreted is the teaching about what Catholic teaching is and what kind of authority belongs to different kinds of teaching.


There are certain thing which have been definitively taught, such as the use of abc, the ordination of women, about which my idea of the liberal Catholic disagree. There is no question about the teaching exceptthat which they bring up in order to justify their lack of acceptance. The Church has never ordained women; the Church has always taught abc is wrong, and yet those people try to argue that somehow they are right.

I disagree with the OP. People opposed to the authoritative teachings of the Church aren’t “liberal catholics” they are “defiant catholics.”

Liberal catholics should be a label reserved for those who (somehow) genuinely believe that universal health care, immigration reform and government poverty assistance programs have a larger proportionate impact than abortion. I can’t wrap MY head around their reasoning, but they are out there.

Liberal catholics think church architecture should arrange people facing each other as well as the priest, place the tabernacle somewhere OTHER than the main focal point of the building, and design confessionals like lounges with easy chairs facing each other instead of kneelers and a screen.

Let’s leave the ‘liberal’ tag on things about which we can disagree without being disobedient instead of lumping the liberals in with the rebels. True, they often tend to be the same group, but there’s no need to push them together!

I agree. This also depends as much on the those doing the labeling as on those being labeled. For example, in CAF one is often classed as a radical liberal when one thinks altar girls are ok, that communion in the hand is ok, that organ music isn’t all that great, that there were once talking snakes, or that the infancy narratives are mostly fiction. These items are rarely even noticed in the real world. It is ridiculous to lump those for whom the above items are OK with someone who is pro-abortion.

I disagree. There are “disobedient rebels” on the right as well: The Old Catholics who reject Vatican 1, sedevacantists who reject VII.

Now, people have a general idea of what is meant by “liberal Catholic;” people can give examples of people or groups they would suggest as examples, Sr Chittester, Fr Curran, Catholics for Choice… so I think we need to start with how the phrase is already used.

I think a Catholic who agrees with the Democrats except on abortion can still be very orthodox and loyal to Catholic teaching, and they should not be considered liberal Catholics, maybe Catholic liberals instead?

well yes. The proper label for them is still “rebellious catholics.” “Conservative catholics” on the other hand, are the sorts of people who think girls should be forbidden from serving at mass, that reception of the Holy Eucharist on the hand is a bad idea, that guitars are profane instruments unworthy of use for mass, etc. These are examples of some highly conservative opinions, but obviously aren’t doctrinal disagreements. Just like the arguable notions on the left side.

My point is that we do clarity no favor when we call somebody like former priest Matthew Fox a “liberal catholic.” (OK, he’s an EX-catholic nowadays, but during his time before being formally separated from the church, the correct label was still “rebellious catholic.” Or we could just go whole hog and bring back “heretic” for that matter! :wink:

I agree. I would not classify these people as liberal, esp after all these years!

Well, the reasons I would call the ones I would call liberal Catholics by that term are 1. it is good to differentiate between heresies, and 2. it’s in common usage, altho too stretched out, imo; they are calling non-dissdentents by a term also used for dissesents.

Hey, maybe we can just call those I would call liberal Catholics dissendent Catholics. Duh!

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