".... and they are known as phithan... um, thilan... uh, pilanth.... they are known as 'Good Deed Doers'!"
A piece well worth reading, The Sadness of Liberal Catholicism , though I could have wished for a different title.
Kerry Kennedy... has written a book ... called Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk About Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning. ...I would like to draw attention to two themes that come up with great, and I must say, disturbing regularity in this book. The first is the favoring of “the faith” or “spirituality” over the institutional church, and the second is the reduction of Catholicism to the works of social justice.
... Now, I know all about priests and bishops who sometimes say stupid things, and worse, sometimes do harmful things. ...
But this acknowledgment should never lead one to conclude that the faith is divorceable from the hierarchical structure of the church, as though the Catholic faith could float free of the pesky interference of priests and bishops. The church is neither a philosophical debating society nor a political party, but rather a mystical body, hierarchically ordered in such a way that authentic teaching and sacraments come through the ministrations of the ordained.
... In the fourth century, St. Augustine battled the Donatist heresy which held that only morally praiseworthy priests could legitimately administer the sacraments and preach. The great saint insisted that the power of word and sacrament does not come (thank God) from the personal worthiness of the minister but from Christ who works through them. So even today, the “faith” cannot be severed from the “institution,” even when that institution is represented, as it always is, by deeply flawed people.
The second theme that disturbed me could be found in almost every essay in the book. In reflection after reflection, we hear that Catholicism amounts to a passion for service to the poor and the marginalized. Again and again, the contributors said that what they prized the most in their Catholic formation was the inculcation of the principles of inclusivity, equality, and social justice. The Church’s social teaching comes in for a great deal of praise throughout the book.
But in the vast majority of the pieces, no mention is made of distinctively Catholic doctrines such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, redemption, original sin, creation, or grace. For the most part, it would be very difficult to distinguish the social commitments of the contributors from those of a dedicated humanist of any or no religious affiliation. The problem here is that the social teaching of the church flows necessarily from and is subordinated to the doctrinal convictions of classical Christianity.
We care for the poor precisely because we are all connected to one another through the acts of creation and redemption. More to it, we worry about the marginalized precisely because all of us are cells, molecules, and organs in a mystical body whose head is Christ risen from the dead. And our work on behalf of social justice is nourished by the [E]ucharist which fully realizes and expresses the living dynamics of the mystical communion.
The great Catholic advocates of social justice in the twentieth century—Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, Romano Guardini, Reynold Hillenbrand, Thomas Merton—were all deeply immersed in the doctrinal and liturgical traditions. No one would have mistaken any of them for a blandly secular humanist. My fear is that a Catholicism reduced to social justice will, in short order, perhaps a generation or two, wither away....
Rev. Robert Barron is a professor of theology at Mundelein University. His website is Word on Fire.
As I said, I regret the title, because I think I qualify as a bleeding heart, as do many I know, and we know that the Mystical Body of Christ's being drawn by the Holy Spirit to worship the Father and to receive the Real Body of Christ is the Source and Summit of the Faith that sends us in mission. The SOURCE.
So I don't think those whose thinking he regrets ARE examples of Liberal Catholicism. The liberalism they inaccurately describe as Catholicism in themselves is, to use his word, divorced from actual Catholicism, it is independent of it.
Oddly, real Catholicism, or at least the remnants of it is precisely where the liberal impulses come from, it is the fuel that drives the engine. But if they don't recognize that, they're gonna run out of gas.
They'll still be doers of good deeds. But it's harder to push a Buick than it is to drive it...
There is an artificial separation of faith and works that has been promoted, often by a false spirit of ecumenism, (it's all the same God, just different roofs, right? naturally leads to, I don't think you have to go to church to be a good person.)
What difference does any of it make, as long as you're nice to other people?
Maybe you are a saint.
Maybe you can be perfectly good while ignoring or ignrant of the truths of the Faith.
We all know atheists who are really good people.
But when God provided humanity with a mechanism to accomplish our goals, and you were lucky enough to know what that mechanism was --- why are you trying to climb that incline without using the railing?
The organizer of a recent conference on Benedict's Liturgical Theology in England had this to say: the most urgent need of all is for mystagogical catechesis. Young people as well as old need to become aware of the cosmic nature and theological depth of the Mass."