What is the difference between a Conservative and Liberal Catholic?


What is the difference between a Traditional/Conservative Catholic and a Liberal/Progressive Catholic? And how would either view persuade someone’s political decisions?



I think the labels conservative and liberal should not be applied to Catholics. You either are Catholic… meaning you believe what the Catholic Church teaches… or you are not Catholic. It never makes sense to me to hear someone say they are a conservative Catholic because they think Vatican II was wrong or that someone else is a liberal Catholic because they believe using birth control is OK. Holding either of these positions means you are not really Catholic. IMHO.


It is all in the mind of the labeler…

Sometimes it is related to moral issues, sometimes it is not.

One can be labeled based on an opinion related to only procedural issues, such as kneelers, architecture, music, communion in the hand, altar girls, altar rails, or the use of latin - regardless of whether or not one is in line with Church rules.

One can be labeled based on how one stands on the historicity and inerrancy of scriptural interpretation, regardless of whether one is in line with Chruch teachings.

One can earn a label based on an opinion related to the role of women in the Church, regardless of whether one acts on these opinions.

One can also earn the label based on serious moral issues, such as abortion or certain forms of birth control, although, in my opinion, this is an invalid use of these labels. After all, we don’t consider someone who steals things or murders someone to be a “liberal”, we call them a criminal.

It is unfortunate that:
*]It usually only takes a single item from the above list (in either direction ) to earn a label - most of us are more comlex than that implies.
*]When labels are used, it is very common to automatically associate the worst possible opinion with that label. For example, it is very common on these forums to see the word liberal coupled with “pro_abortion” as if they were always the same thing.[/LIST]


If they are obedient to Rome and accept all Church teachings then there is no difference.


Let me put it this way. What is a conservative Catholic? And, what is a Liberal Catholic?


Earlier responders expressed very well that one is Catholic… or not. A conservative is generally known to be for less government, fewer taxes, and more importantly, is pro-life. A liberal is generally known to be more socialist in approach to government (with little regard as to the cost on the taxpayer, the government takes care of the citizen), is generally BIG government, and more importantly, is NOT pro-life (supports abortion on demand as well as euthanasia). A Catholic abides by the teaching of the Church.


I asked a Catholic Answers apologist and this is what she said. This is closer to the answer I was looking for.

Generally speaking, when speaking of Catholics, “conservative” usually indicates someone who places importance on obedience to Church authority, particularly on issues of personal morality. “Liberal” usually indicates someone who does not place as much importance on obedience to Church authority, particularly on issues of personal morality. Of course, please keep in mind that I can only state this in the most general of terms. And, since such labels are politically-loaded, I can only recommend avoiding them whenever possible. Please see these links for more information:



SSPX, which considers itself conservative and thinks Vatican II was wrong, ironically (with respect to your post) doesn’t consider birth control sinful.


I tend to agree with the apologist. I am a catholic that fully submits herself to the teachings of the Catholic Church. I do call myself a conservative Catholic to differentiate myself from the far too many “Catholics” that I came across when I came into the faith, that do not believe in nor follow all of the church’s teachings. I happen to be a political conservative, as well. But when I say Conservative Catholic, it is something I, unfortunately, feel I have to do to set myself apart from the defiant catholic. However, it is true that we are Catholic or not. It is just an unfortunate thing that sooooo many people call themselves catholic and cause such scandal due to their irreverance for Church Authority.
Hope that helps :shrug: It’s late and I sleepy…


Perhaps you should call yourself “faithful Catholic” or “orthodox Catholic”… although the last term gets confusing what with the “Orthodox” church and all…


When people expect me to call myself a conservative Catholic, I call myself instead a “faithful, practicing, informed” Catholic.

The label is a way to mis-label and mis-direct: to dismiss the actual issue.

When someone calls himself a “Progressive” Catholic, I can expect to find instead the opposite of progress–a disobedient, destructive and defiant Catholic.

Try out the topic of Contraception and see if it is not a 100% correct litmus test,

separating NOT the so-called conservative from the so -called progressive,


separating the informed and obedient Catholic from the ill-informed and/or disobedient Catholic.

There is no “conservative” Catholic–there is a Catholic who adheres with mind, heart and life to the Church as a lifelong project including failures and successes as to that adherence along the way.


Well said! Excellent. :thumbsup: :tiphat:


When a liberal Catholic dies the media calls them “devout.”




I don’t understand the original question. When you say conservative or liberal, are you talking about the political meanings, or the theological meanings of those words?

There is a world of difference.


Liberal Catholics want to have their cake and eat it.
Conservative Catholics cherish tradition.


As a Baptist, I usually only hear the terms practicing or non-practicing Catholic. You either attend mass, or you don’t. You either do what the church says, or you don’t. It may be a simplistic system but it works for me.


A conservative Catholic thinks the Pope isn’t Catholic enough. A liberal Catholic thinks the Pope is too Catholic.


– Mark L. Chance.


I’m glad that is the distinction the regular non-Catholic world is making about Catholics–this reflects reality rather than media wishful-thinking.

By the way, are you testing the Catholic waters? Come on in!


For all the “liberal Catholics” on CAF, I haven’t seen any of them come in and explain their views. I would expect that “liberal Catholics” don’t see themselves as they have been [correctly] depicted here. I would like to hear the opposing view.

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