As the history of modern Protestantism and Judaism shows, the principal achievement of liberal religion is to persuade people that they do not need religion at all. Liberal Catholicism has achieved its goal of undermining many traditional beliefs and practices, but it has thereby also undermined itself—issues like women’s ordination do not interest people who belong to the Church in the same way they might belong to a health club. A decreasing number of liberals even bother to call themselves Catholics, and in a sense the “best” liberal Catholics are those who have left the Church entirely.
But by no means all those who leave the Church do so because they consider its doctrines too rigid. On the contrary, an unknown number have joined fundamentalist Protestant groups, often complaining that their liberal priests offered them only a worldly version of the Gospel.