Sunday, February 17, 2008

Death of Liberalism

from Good Jesuit

"Liberal Christianity will not survive long and political correctness within the Christian environment is destined to die, I would like to warn you about the perils of liberal Christianity.

Today we can't talk about Christian morality because the standards of 'traditional' and 'liberal' Christians are dramatically different and the abyss between these two branches of Christianity is growing,

we are hearing from some Christian leaders that marriage between a woman and a man is not the only possible option for the creation of a Christian family, that there can be other type of couples and that the Church should be 'inclusive' by recognizing such lifestyles and grant them a solemn blessing. We have heard that the human life is a negotiable value, to the point that it can be aborted in the mother's womb. What has happened with Christianity? In a confused and disoriented world, where is the prophetic voice of Christians?

It is not our duty to defend sharia, promote alternative lifestyles or secularized values.
Our mission is to announce what Christ himself announced".

Russian Orthodox bishop Hilarion Alfeyev said during a conference addressing the Ecumenical Council of Churches at Geneva, Switzerland.


Anonymous said...

The prophetic voice of Christianity is Benedict XVI. He is indeed right to seek unity with such at the Russian Orthodox Bishop.

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Ah, a timely post indeed.

Fr. "Justin" has posted on this too.

"Liberal Christianity will not survive long, and political correctness within the Christian environment is destined to die."

Wonderful words from the Russian Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev !

If Moscow were in communion with Rome, we could do with him over here in England.

I hope he's right. I think he is.

After 40 or more years in power, the liberals have more or less had their day, (though thy won't give up without a struggle. This is why I uncharitably think of them as the undead.)

But what is "the Christian environment" ?

The Catholic family, the Catholic parish, Catholic schools.

Well, the former is in decline and under attack, the latter in many places has gone, leaving the Catholic parish to supply the Catholic environment.

This is why the liberals try to influence and control the modern liturgy, as a way to infiltrate the Catholic ethos.

They mustn't be allowed to !

Well, they won't prevail against authentic Catholic teaching and practice.

And prayer, particularly the Rosary, is our weapon.

Priests must be men of prayer and be ready to encourage the faithful to live a Catholic life.

Then we can all announce what Christ himself announced.

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

I hope he's right. It's a lonely and difficult thing being an orthodox Catholic with children. Some of my protestant and Muslim friends have a better handle on bringing children up with morals than the Catholics I know.
It is a sore challenge to me at times.

miss book said...

Totally agree with Dr. Wright, especially about the Rosary.when I was involved in appointing a new head teacher to our Catholic primary school, we were warned off appointing anyone who was a 'rosary swinging catholic' apparently their vision is too 'narrow'.We were told to go for the other type of catholic with the 'broad vision'!-----In a parish and school under the patronage of Our Lady!
No, the liberals have had their day,and shown that the truth cannot be compromised-thank God for BenedictXV1 and JP11

miss book said...

P.S. I do hope you are feeling better, Fr.

bill said...

Most telling for me was how Bishop Alfeyev refers to the fundamental division between the "two branches of Christianity" as being, not Orthodox vs Catholic (as one might in another context have assumed), or any other familiar denominational distinction, but traditional vs liberal - a division which exists within all the denominations, but which increasingly unites across denominations.

Are we looking at the beginning of a radical realignment of Christianity? Could we be moving towards a situation where those for whom sacra traditio is normative and definitive in terms of dogma, morals, order, biblical exegesis etc, realise that the common ground between them (irrespective of their denominational labels) far exceeds that which they ostensibly share with their liberal "coreligionists" for whom such matters are regarded as irrelevant baggage from the past, to be jettisoned as soon as they are seen to obstruct the current liberal agenda?

For me, such a realignment cannot come soon enough. It may not take much, for we are already working within a two-dimensional grid: historical denominationalism on one axis, trad/liberal on the other. All that's needed is a perceptual shift to accept that the labels on the denominational axis (however much we may like to cling to them) are increasingly meaningless, and the real division (as the bishop says) lies on the other axis. Adherents of the traditio, whether from a Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican background, can rediscover their common underlying identity and purpose far more easily once they are no longer encumbered by those who want to make up their own faith to accommodate secular agendas.

George said...

The good Bishop also mentions shariah - obviously alluding to Dr Rowans' recent musings on this subject.
Well, it's only eight or so years since the Balkan war and this week Kosovo has finally attained independant status through state seccession from those 'terrible genocidal bogey-men Serbs'(pack of lies). Islam has triumphed again.

Here's a U-Tube link which Catholics should find distressing:

Let's hope that our liberalism, tolerance and cultural 'open-mindedness' doesn't lead to similar scenes in the UK.

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Bill's comment provides great food for thought.

What he is suggesting, if I have understood it right, would be a fairly earth-shattering realignment of Christianity,
(presumably only between Churches of apostolic descent,) on a trans denominational axis of tradition v. liberalism.

Initially, this might seem an attractive scenario.

But it would become a civil war between Catholics and schismatics.
There would be bishops with valid orders on both sides of the divide.

Traditionals v. liberals ?

The former communio would be united under the banner of "truly Catholic."

The latter would be united only in its commitment to abandon the past and embrace the liberal agenda of the present.

In fact, it would be a communio of schimatics.
This is a rather shaky basis for communio.
The whole liberal thing would become increasingly fissiparous, and disintegrate into independent "Churches".

Look at the Anglican communion. Look at the Old Catholics, and others.

(By the way, what would stop liberalism attempting to infiltrate and undermine traditionalism, in this scenario as in any other ?)

Many people would say (quite rightly) the Church is already in a state of civil war.

(Was there ever a time when it wasn't ?
There have been "isms" in the Church since the earliest times.)

Catholicism would be the eventual victor, but at what price ?

At this point, the doubts in my mind begin to surface.

Would it be right to abandon the liberals to to their own devices, and to eternal darkness, which is all they would find ?

The principle of "Salus animarum" could be seen to apply here.

Christ came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

It is the Church's mission to save souls, not to abandon them.

Of course, if people are determined to cross the pons asinorum out of the Church and into eternal night, I suppose they will do so.

In any event, I think I would feel uneasy with any equation which (even implicitly) reads Traditionalism = Righteousness.

It seems to smack of "I thank God I am not as other men."

Can we say traditionalists = the elect ?
I don't think so !

One is ever mindful of Christ's condemnation of the Pharisees.

On the whole, I think I prefer to belong to a Church of saints and sinners.

Nevertheless, I see how Bill's "realignment" could happen in theory.

Having examined the theory, I find for thelogical and ecclesiological reasons, I cannot accept it.

It remains an interesting theory.

But that people are even thinking along these lines shows the terrible damage liberalism has done and is doing.

michael petek said...

George, I don't know why you talk like the David Irving of Balkan holocaust denial.

The ethnic cleansing of the Kosovo Albanians qualifies as genocide whether it involved physical killing or not, as there are five heads under which the crime can be committed. One of these is the imposition of discriminatory birth control measuires on a national, racial, ethnic or religious group with intent to destroy the group, in whole or in part, as such.

UNFPA was caught red handed negotiating with Milosevic to supply the means of birth control to prevent the Albanians from reproducing too fast.

George said...

How about the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Kosovo? The alleged 'genocide' which Michael Petek mentions never happened. The UN peacekeeper officers found no evidence. Yes, there were casulaties that numbered some 3,000 (1,000 Serbians) but horrific as that may be it was no genocide. Only a few 'brave' members of the international press are coming out with the truth several years after the war - but it's too late, it's happened. The 100,000 graves of murdered Kosovans were never found because they never existed. Much like looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - where are they?

As for coercive birth control, forced abortion etc... take your pick! IPPF has it in for the human race as a whole. Let's face it a 'zero carbon footprint' means no people! Oh sure it's targetting the 'poor' of the world because, according to Malthusian ideology, the poor, the feeble minded, the workers, the dross of society (as judged by some elite yardstick) are all expendable and doomed to a short life unworthy of being lived anyway. The world's population has to come down to 2 billion according to some famous Scientist (sorry - forgotten his name).

Funny how it always comes back to Milosevic and the Serbs did this and that - the Kosovans and the KLA were all saints weren't they.

But the images of torched Churches and Basilicas that were built at the very beginnings of Christendom, being wrecked and desecrated by muslim Albanians (what were they doing in Kosovo?) are never shown on the TV or discussed in the press.

What the kosovans are doing by declaring independance is actually illegal under international law, and the EU and USA stand by and applaud. Why?

When the local muslim population of a UK town reaches 90% and they decide to seccede and create their own islamic state within the UK - who will stop them? English Law, Shariah Law?? Kosovo was for centuries Serbia's 'capital of Christendom'. Now they've been sold out. I think we need to dig a lot deeper Michael to see past what the press are told to report. My opinion.

bill said...

Dr Wright, thank you for your thoughtful observations. I am well aware that there would be problems with the model I set out - not least, differing understandings of what exactly is the content of sacra traditio (e.g., to take a very obvious issue, what does the traditio tell us about the nature and exercise of the Petrine office?) We'd be talking initially about such a realignment producing an agreement on methodology rather than an instant doctrinal convergence. My point is that the methodological incompatibility between liberalism and traditionalism makes them essentially irreconcilable in a way which is not true of denominational differences.

Of course you are right that the Church must embrace both saints and sinners (it can hardly do otherwise, since all baptised Christians are saints by calling and sinners by nature). That, if I may say so, is a red herring. The distinction here is not between the righteous and the unrighteous (I am quite sure that there are any number of liberals who have attained a higher degree of personal holiness than I will ever achieve) but between orthodoxy and heterodoxy. While it is in the nature of the Church (to borrow a phrase) "monstrare se esse matrem" to all who seek divine truth, it is not in her nature to forge accommodations with heterodoxy simply in order to keep as many people as possible under her general aegis, regardless of the harm that that does to her witness to the truth.

It is in this connection that your point about salus animarum cuts both ways. Does that imperative dictate that the Church should prefer to keep within its fold those who plainly, openly and knowingly reject sacra traditio and the whole edifice of doctrine which is founded upon it - and should do this even when it is at the expense of continuing to exclude people like Bishop Alfeyev for whom it is so obviously central and definitive?

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Thanks to Bill for a very nice and thoughtful reply.

I hope you didn't find my comment too dismissive !

Well done for spotting the red herring ! You are a careful reader, I can see.

Many people wouldn't see this red herring. They would, and do, confuse tradition v. liberalism with righteousness v. unrighteousness by marching unseeingly down the road marked "loyal Catholic v. disloyal Catholic."

Pope Benedict has been careful not to venture down this road.
Instead, he famously condemned, in his December 2005 speech to the Curia, a hermeneutic of discontinuity, or rupture, with the Church's past.

I read that as a solemn warning which in time will, I believe, be more effective than a thundering anathema.

I also saw in it a manifesto for his policy of ressourcement.

You yourself, in exposing the red herring make the valuable point that a liberal Catholic is not necessarily bad or damned.

Therefore, it would seem imperative to keep him within the Church, the ark of salvation.

I certainly wouldn't want to make a conscious choice between including liberal Catholics and excluding Churches not in communion with Rome.

Not to sound too polemical, but the decrees of the council of Florence, which seemed to have reached agreement with the Orthodox in 1439, were never promulgated by the Russians or the Greeks.

Most people would probably write off the thesis of the Russian philosopher, Soloviev, on a continuing unity, as wishful thinking, and say the Orthodox Churches have already excluded themselves !

(Not irrevocably, of course.
The whole question of reunion with Rome could be reopened at any time.)

In any case, I'm not at all sure they feel excluded !

The plain fact of the matter is that as a Russian Orthodox bishop, Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev owes his allegiance not to the Pope, but to the Patriarch of Moscow who does not recognise the primacy of Peter.

Our admiration for his recent speech should not blind us to this fact.

The same applies, of course, to the autocephalous Eastern Churches who are in communion not with Rome, but with the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Their status is very different from the sui juris Churches of the Eastern Catholic rites.

In addition, I honestly don't think the problem of the liberal Catholics, who could be described, and have been described, as being in a state of de facto schism, would simply go away if there were a re-alignment of orthodox Christians who follow the sacra traditio.

I think we would see liberals (including bishops) who formally separate from Rome, and also liberals (including bishops) who would "remain in the fold", so to speak.

In other words, the existing situation would not be resolved. In fact it might only get worse.

The latent civil war in the Church would undoubtedly become open conflict.
It would be very messy.

The re-alignment of Christianity could become a huge new fragmentation of Christianity. Bigger than anything seen in the sixteenth century.
Mutatis mutandis, it could be a re-run of the Great Schism.
Would this, in turn, be followed by a re-run of the Conciliar movement ?

In the meantime, souls would be lost, I feel sure of this.

Of course, a re-alignment of Christianity along the axis of those who follow sacra traditio would have to involve reunion with Constantinople, Moscow, and other Eastern Churches.

This would inevitably involve non negotiable features, particularly papal primacy, (which they at present reject) and (presumably) Catholic dogmas : what about, for example, the Immaculate Conception and papal Infallibility ?

I appreciate what you say about agreement on methodology, but I don't see this happening without doctrinal convergence.

The irony here is that the liberals already in the Church, in their way, could be said to reject papal primacy too. Or rather they elevate personal conscience and personal preference above the authority of Peter.

As things stand, therefore, I would have to answer (regretfully) "yes" to your final question, with the proviso that individual Catholics will have to choose (sooner rather than later, I suspect) between an increasingly heterodox position and loyalty to Peter and the Magisterium.

I wouldn't want to make that choice for them.

Do I prefer to see disloyalty and dissent within the Church ?

Well, I don't like it, of course.
But I am not convinced a re-alignment of Christianity would get rid of it.

That is how I see things at the moment.
But these are interesting times.

Bill said...

Thank you for more thought-provoking comments; there is much to ponder here.

Certainly, "these are interesting times". Though it may be overstepping the mark to talk in terms of an imminent paradigm shift, it is hard to predict the final outcome of the processes and forces presently at work. The Holy Spirit may be directing the life of the Church in ways which none of us can foresee. I would only plead that those who have influence in such matters do not close their eyes to the existence outside the visible bounds of the Catholic Church of very large numbers of faithful and doctrinally orthodox Christians who naturally and properly belong within it - more naturally, I would suggest, than some who are currently within it, however much the Church properly concerns herself with their spiritual welfare.