Liberal Liturgist\Proper terms


Recently in another thread I talked about people who modify the liturgy or take liturgical personal expression as good and called them liberals.
I think that they are one huge cause of the problems in the Church today,

Is this the proper term, what do we call them then, and can they be called orthodox?

Also am I too harsh?

In Christ


There are liberals who are orthodox and conservatives who are orthodox. Anyone who distorts Catholic teaching is not liberal, he is heterodox. That having been said, many here on these forums mistakenly call heterdox people “liberal” when, in fact, a true liberal is within the bounds of moral and doctrinal orthodoxy while being more lax on diciplines than their conservative counterparts.

So, depending on what these people are doing, they may be liberal or they may be heterodox. I tend to be more rigid on liturgical matters, so I am not the best to comment on “personal expression” in the liturgy. If I had it my way, there’d be more uniformity.


I very much agree with everything you said except what I highlighted.

Within the context of the Church and the Mass, a “liberal” would historically be more open to change/reform as directed by the Church. To give a practical example, a “liberal” might be far more accepting of the Church allowing females to serve at the altar. It really has nothing to be about being “lax on diciplines.”

One of the biggest dangers of mis-applying labels like “liberal” (particularly in an apologetics setting) is the likelyhood you’ll turn people off because they will sense the mis-applied/blanket use of the term.


I stand by the highlighted part as written :slight_smile:

Lax doesn’t imply laziness. It is the opposite of rigid. One can be less stringent on gray areas and still be in the realm of orthodoxy. Letting women serve at the altar is a classic example. I, personally, don’t prefer female servers, but that’s another thread.

Without gettnig too much into labels, I would say that the most important thing in liturgical law is to see what the Council called for and not go chasing after indults, options, rescripts, special allowances, extraordinary circumstances, etc… Too many of the liturgical norms are not heeded, in my opinion, because of all the “options” being exercised. It gives the impression that no norms exist.

I challenge people to actually READ Sacrosanctam Consillium without looking for loopholes or ways out of things. Just read the thing and see what they are trying to get across. You’ll be surprised and inspired.


There has got to be a better term for people like that though. “Liberal” is a political term (and doesn’t necessarily mean Democrat either). Liberal political views are compatible with Church teaching- though many liberals take positions on certain moral issues that are not compatible with Catholicism or Christianity in general.


It’s probably true that some “liberals” are orthodox, but it’s generally used as a derogatory term.

I don’t think it’s an entirely inappropriate word. Here’s the second definition from my Webster’s dictionary:

*Holding, expressing, or following views or policies that support the freedom of individuals to act or express themselvese as they choose. *

The highlighted bit is primarily my beef with “liberals” in the church. It’s what they want to believe and do, not what Rome requires. This covers all areas, from moral behavior down to the liturgy. I can’t control their personal moral behavior (and don’t want to), but when they start messing with the liturgy that really gets my goat. :mad:


I do believe that being liberal morally or liturgically or doctrinally is in rebellion against God as the person is elevating themselves in authority. Much like the sin of Adam

We are free to be liberal in our love, expression of charity, devotions and evangelization. We have freedom to express ourselves in many different ways as Catholics and use the gifts we have to share the faith, educate and express ourselves.
I agree that some “liberal” political views are compatible and even are specifically Church teaching. We are supposed to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, etc…

Yet, when we blur the line between our freedom of personal expression and our obedience to God then that is where problems arise. There is no freedom in our obedience as obedience demands submission. A “liberal” liturgical style is just plain disobedience usually expressed by some gay dancing, liturgical abuses, avoidance of doctrine, and elevation of the person above God.

I know that the word “liberal” evokes reactions, that sometimes are just gut reactions, since in popular culture it is mainly associated with politics.

So what is a better word for those who use freedom of expression to try and seek personal liberties instead of obedience to the faith? (Seeking loopholes, technicalities, or non-specifics to allow for their own desires.)

God Bless


Who are you to judge others? Sorry to say this but your post smacks of arrogance!


Actually it is humility to seek to accept truth and conform to it.

I am just a Catholic who seeks to serve God, we are all called to judge right and wrong, what is faithful and what isn’t. To not try and conform to God and seek our own superiority is arrogance, which is exhibited by those who seek to never be judged, to not conform and seek their own way.

It is an act of humility to seek truth, it is arrogance to make your own. It would be cowardly for me not to point out the errors and evils of those who take liberties with the liturgy and the Holy Faith.

In Christ

Was Saint Francis de Sales arrogant? I would suggest everyone read his letters. I am no Saint Francis de Sales but he is an example of how each of us should stand up for truth.


Great post. Why is it that a post like yours “smacks of arrogance,” while those who say that the Church’s teachings or liturgical norms are outdated and should be changed are not called on this? Political correctness is not only arrogant but condescending, and for one to pit their limited intellect against the collective wisdom of two thousand years of divinely-inspired teaching is the epitome of arrogance.


I don’t like to use these labels much because they don’t mean much.

And keep in mind that neither “liberals” nor “conservatives” hold the corner on “liturgical abuse”.

When standing during communion was mandated all of what would be called the “orthodox conservatives” were up in arms and wanted to disobey - and I had to remind many of them that standing instead of kneeling is a legitimate order in compliance with the GIRM. Of course more than a couple told me it should just be ignored because it was put upon the bishops by liberal liturgists.

To be quite honest, in my experience those who call themselves “orthodox conservative Catholics” are far more likely to ignore GIRM directives and other documents and do their own thing than so called liberals.


Kneeling to receive is not an abuse as it is allowed and the traditional way to receive. Standing is now the norm in the United States and those who want to receive kneeling just need to be catechized, informed what is the norm, and discouraged.

Now a legitimate abuse would be then complete disobedience and would then be someone taking liberties with the Holy Mass. This would make the person a liberal as they would be introducing innovations and personal freedom to worship or the faith. This would be liturgical dancing, fractioning of the precious blood, improvising or ignoring certain parts of the Mass, etc… the kind of stuff you see out here in Southern California.

So what kind of liturgical abuse would be committed by a conservative? The very definition of conservative orthodox Catholic would be someone who holds to tradition. This would promote an obedience to liturgical norms, not innovations.

In Christ


People who refuse to stand during the communion procession, priests adding “Hail Mary’s” at random points during the mass, people refusing to participate in the singing of the communion antiphon (hymn), people refusing to sing the parts of the mass that are sung, priests who encourage personal piety and ignore the “COMMUNAL” nature of liturgy: These are all irregularities likely to be committed by those who label themselves “conservative”.


I would agree that adding a prayer when one is not appropriate or in the GIRM is wrong, yet the other things are not liturgical abuses. Not everyone in the pews has to sing when possibly they are not comfortable. I do not sing a song in my parish which would require me to state that
And as such doing things we are not supposed to is wrong and should be identified and corrected.

Maybe we should start a thread on if encouraging personal piety, not singing, would be abuses. This thread should maybe include the desire by some to sing all the way through the communion without any silence to discourage personal piety. Should the primary focus of Mass be God, then community or community, then God? It has to be one or the other. This could be answered if we start another thread.

I am not sure how someone would ignore the communal nature of the Mass as everyone prays together, sings together, kneels together and participates in worshipping God together.

Anyone introducing innovations to the liturgy would be exhibiting a liberal mindset of personal expression above obedience, even if they call themselves conservative. This is like those who call themselves Catholic, but support contraception.

In Christ


In the Latin Rite, standing after the Agnus Dei and until one processes to receive Holy Communion is the norm. Kneeling during that time is permissible, but not the norm. Standing to receive, when not at an altar rail, is the norm, but kneeling is permissible. Receiving Holy communion in the hand is not the norm, but is perssible. Receiveing Holy Communion on the tongue is the norm. Standing after one has returned to their pew after receiving Holy Communion is not the norm and, while I am not certain about this, I not believe it is permissible either. One is to kneel after receiving Holy Communion.

As for the second bolded section, what are you referring to? Can you give some examples of abuse in this area? (Holding hands during the Our Father is not permissible, by the way, despite how common it is.


I very much agree. I stop listening to those who suggest they know better than the Church – whether they are “conservative” or liberal." The communion posture is a good example.

There is a great deal of hypocrisy out there and in the end, it does nothing but fuel heterodoxy.


The posture after the Agnus Dei and while we await Communion is set by the local ordinary.

An altar railing has nothing to do with receiving Holy Communion. People who kneel will not be denied Holy Communion – but it is hardly approved or “permissable.”

One can stand, kneel or sit after receiving Holy Communion. It’s 100% up to the communicant.


Your post is a perfect example.

Now I realize that this wasn’t necessarily authored by YOU, but none the less, we just had a post not long ago where someone was talking about why people do things that are technically allowed but still discouraged. Of course, what followed was the bashing about how “liberals” see a “loophole” where they can grab an inch and instead take a mile.

Sure, kneeling at communion is not PROHIBITED - you couldn’t PROHIBIT people’s personal conduct even if you wanted to.

But it is not the norm; it is not encouraged. And there are plenty of reasons why it’s wrong.

So why do it? Now I realize that maybe YOU personally don’t. But you are making the case that it’s not abuse. And I agree, the label “abuse” is thrown around far too much. But it’s not a great thing to be doing, and really is against the norms, which basically allow it as a compromise.


Well … not really.

I suppose it IS 100% up to the comminicant in as much as we can’t really go up to people, pull them up and yell “On your feet!” during mass.

But the Church is pretty clear that, at least here in the United States, it is definately not preferrable to be kneeling during the Communion rite.


I started to respond to this using my memory as a guide. However, I realized that may not be a good idea. I did a little poking around and came across these nice summaries that quote sections from the GIRM, clarifications from the Congregation of Divine Worship and even Cardinal Arinze himself.

Letters from discussing kneeling during reception. Kneeling is permissible.

And this from the CA library. Note that the indult regarding lay purification of vessels has expired and the laity are no longer permitted to do this.

Finally, this is what ZENIT has to say.

I will conform my behavior and posture to whatever the Church and my Ordinary require and recommend.

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