Thursday, September 27, 2007

Liberal Catholicism and the late Fr Godfrey Diekmann
It all depends on what you mean by ‘liberal’

In historical terms I’m a liberal Catholic (!) or rather a Catholic with classically liberal political and economic views unlike the well-meant socialism of theologically orthodox people like the Anglo-Catholic slum priests and Dorothy Day... or of the religious left like Jim Wallis today (‘let’s stop the state in Iraq but keep the almighty state to fix all domestic social and personal evils’... because ‘we know what’s good for you’).

My liberalism: economics, the sciences and so on are autonomous (the true sense of mater, sì, magistra, no, or there’s no such such thing as Catholic physics different to ordinary physics) — I’m not a theocrat (religious liberty is good — the truth has nothing to fear and the church can best flourish this way) — and theological and liturgical conservatism. They’re not mutually exclusive.

(Theologically ‘conservative Catholicism’ is redundant and ‘liberal’ doesn’t apply: the Trinity, apostolic ministry, Real Presence and morals aren’t up for a vote. Like a woman can’t be ‘sort of pregnant’ they either are or are not.)

As long as they were reined in by the pre-conciliar church (which is broader in the good sense and deeper than the RC traditionalist movement today) men like him could and did do much good: social justice (Catholic Action), the legitimate liturgical movement...

Cut loose from that they were a disaster.

A story about the man.

Twenty-two years ago a liberal RC priest who knew the old ways (one of the old men who destroyed everything) boasted to me that ‘20 years from now the church will be completely different’.

It didn’t happen really but there are signs it may... in a way opposite to what he meant! His and this man’s confidence is being proved wrong.

They managed to give RCs the worst not the best lessons from Protestantism turning most of them into indifferent mainliners.

(They probably didn’t know mainline Protestantism would be dying either.)

Meanwhile the kids are trying to rebuild what these old men tore down: witness the motu. (If it were only about nostalgic old people the Pope wouldn’t have bothered.) And the Orthodox convert boomlet among Protestants (they would have been yesterday’s Anglicans) in the generations in between.

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