President Biden and Progressive Catholic Fantasyland

Catholic progressives were not so craven in the face of legal segregation during the classic period of the civil rights movement; they were, in fact, bold and brave. So why the surrender to the Zeitgeist now?

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House in Washington Jan. 27, 2021, prior to signing executive actions. Also pictured are John Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate, and Vice President Kamala Harris. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

Imagine yourself the op-ed page editor of a newspaper that prides itself on rigorous editorial standards. A column comes in, declaring Donald Trump the greatest president since Lincoln and citing as warrants for that claim Kellyanne Conway, Sidney Powell, Rep. Jim Jordan, and Steve Bannon. What do you do?

You toss the piece in the trash can or hit the delete button on your computer. Why? Because ill-informed encomia buttressed by cheers from partisans do not make for serious commentary.

Alas, that protocol seems not to have occurred to the op-ed editors at the Washington Post who, on January 28, ran an article in which E.J. Dionne, Jr., joined the progressive Catholic media chorus in its two obsessions of the moment: the denunciation of Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles for the Inauguration Day statement in which the USCCB president expressed concern about certain likely Biden administration policies, and the claim that President Biden’s election will accelerate the revival of liberal Catholicism in America.

Dionne’s celebrants of the anti-Gomez pile-on and his sources for that strange prediction? Four of the most voluble liberal Catholics in the country. Moreover, in the course of his op-ed Dionne misrepresented the teaching of Pope Francis on the Church’s public witness, portrayed Mr. Biden as some sort of authority on “the Catholicism of the Second Vatican Council,” misconstrued the dynamics within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and endorsed a most un-liberal-Catholic resort to authoritarian Roman ultramontanism in order to marginalize U.S. bishops less enamored of the Biden administration.

Quite something for one 800-word column.

What Post editors deemed “the struggle for American Catholicism” in their headline on Dionne’s column does indeed, as the author suggested, encompass “more than a half-century of Catholic history.” But rather than trace the roots of the struggle back to the early Sixties and the era of the “two Johns” – John XXIII and John F. Kennedy – it would be more accurate to locate the flashpoint in 1968, the trigger being Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on the morally appropriate means of regulating fertility, Humanae Vitae. Activist U.S. Catholic progressives and many American theologians were key figures in lobbying the Vatican for a change in what was long taken to be settled Catholic teaching on the ethics of marital love – a campaign conducted behind the scenes in Rome and, tellingly, in the international media. Paul VI resisted those pressures, taught that family planning was a moral obligation, and reaffirmed the Church’s teaching that, in meeting that obligation, couples should make use of the natural rhythms of biology because that method of fertility regulation was most congruent with human dignity, especially the dignity of women. Progressive Catholics were stunned – or, in the British vernacular, gobsmacked – and they’ve never recovered their equilibrium since.

Pope Paul’s warnings in Humanae Vitae that a contraceptive mentality would do grave damage to relations between men and women, to family life, to the public moral culture, and to society as a whole were ignored, when not lampooned, by liberal Catholics. The link between a contraceptive mentality and abortion as a method of ex-post-facto “birth control” was denied. Schemes of “faithful dissent” were devised by progressive theologians, who thereby greased the skids on which Catholic politicians careened down the slippery slope from support for contraception to support for legalized abortion to support for taxpayer-funded contraception and abortion – the gravamen of the battle between the proponents of Obamacare and the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is about to recommence, thanks to the nation’s second baptized Catholic president.

The progressive Catholic attack on Archbishop Gomez, echoed in E.J. Dionne’s column, may strike some as puzzling. For in his measured and wholly respectful Inauguration Day statement, the USCCB president pledged to work with the new administration on a host of causes dear to liberal Catholics: immigration and criminal justice reform, climate change, economic development, and world peace. So why the anti-Gomez rancor, indeed fury, in portside Catholicism? Because throughout this half-century of “struggle,” progressive Catholics have, in the main, consistently surrendered to the cultural headwinds of the sexual revolution. And those headwinds now carry the message (which seems congenial to the Biden Administration) that contraception, abortion, the LGBT agenda, and gender ideology are a package deal that must be accepted in full.

In a perverse and disturbing sense that is, of course, true. For the package in question is built on the foundation of a false anthropology of expressive individualism, in which the human person is reduced to a bundle of morally commensurable desires, the satisfaction of which is the duty of the state under the rubric of protecting “human rights.” But if the idea of “human rights” is traduced into the law’s endorsement of virtually any form of personal willfulness, then democracy is gravely imperiled. For the past four years, the Washington Post’s masthead has warned that “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Well, democracy also dies in decadence. And Catholic progressives, who ought to have been among the carriers of a more authentic notion of “human rights,” have quailed at the thought of pushing back against the lifestyle libertinism that is eroding the foundations of democracy in the United States and throughout the world, paving the way to what Benedict XVI aptly, if sharply, described as the “dictatorship of relativism.”

Is that phrase, “the dictatorship of relativism,” hyperbolic? I’m rather sure that E.J. Dionne and the liberal Catholics he deems authorities on contemporary American Catholicism would dismiss it as such. Consider, however, what the Biden Administration did in its first eight days in office.

Within hours of the president’s inauguration, the administration issued an executive order that risks imposing gender ideology and its falsification of the human condition on state-run schools throughout the country through the use of federal education dollars – as the “Equality Act” the president has promised to sign would, by deeming them “public accommodations,” erode the religious freedom of any religious community that does not bow to LGBT ideology in arranging its facilities.

On the forty-eighth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the White House issued a statement celebrating its creation of one of the most radical abortion regimes in the world and promising to enshrine that license in federal law.

A few days later, the president reversed the “Mexico City Policy” that banned the use of U.S. foreign aid funds for abortions abroad.

Is this really what the once-noble liberal Catholic project wants to defend and promote: the use of coercive state power to impose a relativistic ethic on all of society in the name of what every serious Catholic must recognize as a terribly distorted and harmful concept of freedom?

It is a sad commentary on the state of Catholic progressivism that, having lost so many of the intellectual arguments over the past forty years while demonstrating its evangelical and pastoral sterility, it now looks to political power to resuscitate itself. This Esau-like sale of one’s birthright did not have to happen. The fevered conspiracy theories of some Catholic traditionalists and the false historical narratives of some Catholic progressives notwithstanding, there is no straight or necessary line from the reform Catholicism of the mid-twentieth century and the Second Vatican Council to today’s liberal Catholic surrender to the Zeitgeist. One emblematic figure from the Vatican II era may illustrate that point.

Fr. John Courtney Murray, SJ, editor of Theological Studies, religion editor of America, and one of the architects of Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, was dismissed by progressive Catholics, shortly after his death in 1967, as impossibly old hat and behind the times. Now, Fr. Murray is being posthumously recruited as the prophet of the progressive Catholic revival being led by President Biden: a ridiculous notion at which the sometimes acerbic Jesuit would have groaned – before asking for a restorative “Beefeater martini, desperately dry.”

As author of the phrase, “The Murray Project” – a shorthand description of a cautionary, critically affirmative Catholic analysis of the American democratic experiment – I will say with some confidence that Fr. Murray would have agreed with Justice Byron White’s description of Roe v. Wade as an act of “raw judicial power” with no serious constitutional foundation. And that Murray would have been appalled by the pro-abortion voting record in Congress of his fellow-Jesuit, Robert Drinan, SJ, who long provided cover for Catholic politicians tacking to the prevailing cultural winds. And that Murray would have found Mario Cuomo’s 1984 Notre Dame speech on Church-and-state – the Magna Carta for the progressive Catholic marginalization of the life issues in national politics – as intellectually anorexic as he found John F. Kennedy’s 1960 address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. And that Murray would have been saddened by the ignorance of such eminent Catholic public officials as Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi about the bedrock Catholic social justice principle of the dignity of every human life from conception until natural death – a principle, Murray would insist, that we can know from both reason and revelation.

Catholic progressives were not so craven in the face of legal segregation during the classic period of the civil rights movement; they were, in fact, bold and brave. So why the surrender to the Zeitgeist now? And why the indifference to what that surrender underwrites in terms of cultural, political, and legal pressures on fellow-Catholics who believe what the Church teaches, and will always teach? Is access to the halls of power really that important? Do many progressive Catholics actually think that the Church teaches falsely about human dignity and its implications in public life? Do progressive Catholics really believe that Pope Francis, who has consistently criticized gender ideology and the neo-colonialism embodied by western foreign aid’s subsidizing of contraception and abortion in the developing world, is cheered by what the Biden administration has done in its first week and a half in office?

In any event, the claim that President Biden, whose grip on basic Catholic social doctrine principles is as insecure as his piety is genuine, will revive the dying progressive Catholic project seems ill-founded: more like a trip to Fantasyland than a likely outcome of the challenging four years ahead.


If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.


About George Weigel 365 Articles
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. He is the author of over twenty books, including Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (1999), The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (2010), and The Irony of Modern Catholic History: How the Church Rediscovered Itself and Challenged the Modern World to Reform. His most recent books are The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission (2020), and Not Forgotten: Elegies for, and Reminiscences of, a Diverse Cast of Characters, Most of Them Admirable (Ignatius, 2021).

39 Comments

  1. The article is accurate within its framework, but it would help clarify matters to go back another century and a half or so to the dawn of the 19th century and the rise of the “new things” of socialism and modernism. While the novelties that appeared on the scene in the 1960s seem to have come out of nowhere, they were merely the fruit of a long and arduous campaign to reinvent Christianity carried on since at least 1825 and the publication of Henri de Saint-Simon’s “The New Christianity”, framing it as a blueprint for what became known as “socialism” supported by changes in doctrine that were labeled “modernism.”

    Even the “new things”, however, were simply the latest manifestation of something that has afflicted Christianity from the very beginning, as Msgr. R0onald Knox chronicled in “Enthusiasm.” This “excess of charity” that leads to disunity is still strongly in force today, and will remain so as long as the abstraction of humanity created by man is exalted above the actuality of the human person created by God.

  2. This was predictable.

    4 years ago 98% of the msm, in close cooperation with the democratic party, set out to destroy the presidency of Donald Trump. Now that they have succeeded (no small thanks to Trump’s inability to shut up every now and then) they have, predictably, overplayed their hand.
    The draconian measures to which our CINO president has added his John Hancock will have far-reaching consequences, and I pray that one of them will be this – more and more of the just ONE of the bishops (small b) who have heretofore just played along with this idiocy will suddenly come to his senses, and summon the courage to stand up and say NO, not unlike Archbishop Cordileone in San Francisco.

    We the laity have those who have already stood up for us – Cordileone, Chaput, and others, and more will follow.

    It is only a matter of time, and methinks that is why Biden is moving so fast on these measure.

    • Terrance, i have followed the presidential campaign with a sharp eye for any act of fraud or malfeasance. Unless I missed something I cannot find such in Biden’s rather mundane effort. He seems very in control. He doesn’t lie openly. He is not narcissistic, gracefully and in command of his emotions. That is largely implanted by his painful loss of his wife and young child, loss of young son Beau to brain cancer and his conciliation as well as his ability to accept responsibility for his mistakes. I pray that he will return to his Irish Catholic roots. Biden has been given an almost impossible task of restoring our nation to its’ glory. I pray for his success.

      • “He seems very in control. He doesn’t lie openly. He is not narcissistic, gracefully and in command of his emotions.”

        Where have you been for the past 45 years?

      • Over 31,000 Americans have died of Wuhan coronavirus in the slightly more than a week since the inauguration of Biden, and using the standard that you, Morgan, set, he is to blame for all of those deaths.

      • Am I wrong, but are we not cautioned in the New Testament to beware of those who were in the Faith (Catholic) but deny or reject the Faith? Did not the Holy Apostles warn us to stay away from people who reject what is taught? And did not Saint Teresa, the Little Flower warn us about staying away from people who are lukewarm Catholics as it can harm your own Faith. Those who only pick and chose what to believe and what to follow. It is absolutely contrary to Catholic Church teaching to officiate at a so-called marriage between two people of the same sex. It is absolutely contrary to the Catholic Faith to give money to pay for abortions of unborn children. This is facilitating abortions directly. A man who has had access to the Graces of the Sacraments and the teachings of the Catholic Faith for his entire life has seriously placed himself outside the Catholic Church. We need to offer up our sacrifices and pray for him, but not support his actions.

      • Somehow, I can’t bring myself to believe that Biden absolutely NEVER discussed the China connection with his son as he insists, or Hunter’s lucrative sinecure on the Ukrainian energy company’s board, or that his son NEVER used his influence in his dealings with these countries, or…………

  3. Mr. Weigel cannot appeal to “being serious,” after offering his own unserious narrative about the McCarrick Report, “System Failure but No Smoking Gun,” published on these very pages at CWR.

    Trusting I suppose that Catholics won’t read the McCarrick Report, he ignored the reality that “the system” failed, but not the man John Paul II, when in fact, the export gives evidence that the original regular process (the system) made the correct decision and recommended rejecting McCarrick as Archbishop of Washington, and then the man John Paul II over-ruled the system and set up a second, irregular (process that is, a personal, irregular process) that resulted in the decision John Paul II wanted, to make McCarrick Archbishop of Washington.

    Ignoring facts and writing twisted narratives is not “being serious.”

    He should try a different narrative theme, because he is sawing off the limb he is sitting on. Unlike more candid Catholic commentators like Fr. Gerald Murray and Phillip Lawler etc etc, who still respect JP2, Mr. Weigel can never speak candidly about anything “negative” about John Paul II.

    And that is a mark of a man pretending to be serious.

    • Why would John Paul II want McCarrick as Archbishop of Washington, or Newark, for that matter? Are you suggesting JPII wanted immorality to flourish in the Church hierarchy?

      • The better question to ask is: “Why would John Paul II overturn the decision against McCarrick, made with the regular CHurch decision process, and establish a second, irregular selection process especially designed for McCarrick, and taken from the hands of the COngregation for Bishops, and put into the hands of the Secretary of State, ignoring the direct warning of Cardinal O’Connor, and the advice of the Congregation for Bishops?

        I think that the answer is that Pope John Paull II, who in may ways I like as a teacher of the faith, was a very bad governor of the Church, and failed the Church in that role. As in the Maciel affair, he showed a tendency to be duped by sycophants and frauds. The late Cardinal Dulles observed in First Things that JP2, for all of his good qualities, was (by comparison to others) too optimistic about individuals and human nature, and thus damaged the Church because he did not pay heed to warnings from more sober advisors, until it was too late.

        • Sadly, there was little O’Connor could do to block McCarrick from becoming Archbishop of Washington. O’Connor was dying and no one backed him up.

          • Sadly, John Paul II did not heed Cardinal O’Connor, and others, which was bad governance.

            John Paul II, and his predecessor Pope Paul VI, allowed power to flow to the wrong kind of men, those not yoked to Our Lord, but instead, those men who have chosen to be yoked ruler of this world.

  4. I can see some vitriol by the most introspective of us, but my patience stops there!

    “President” Biden’s morality on abortion must be challenged. I want to believe that Biden will again support the Hyde Amendment which withholds taxpayer funds for abortion on demand. I want to be politically correct by my use of quotes. Did he really get elected? As a Catholic and a recent RINO, I cannot respectively accept Pope Francis’ full message…

    “Pope Paul’s warnings in Humanae Vitae that a contraceptive mentality would do grave damage to relations between men and women, to family life, to the public moral culture, and to society as a whole were ignored, when not lampooned, by liberal Catholics. The link between a contraceptive mentality and abortion as a method of ex-post-facto “birth control” was denied.” How can Pope Francis, who is not a clinician, poses as if one. Like the three exceptions allowed on abortion, the clinical threat to the ill woman’s life may be threatened with another pregnancy.

    The immoral issue of frivolous abortion is always evil. God save the lives of our future citizens.

  5. Thank you, George, for another excellent article.

    The quisling Catholic attack on the “measured and respectful” statement by Archbishop Gomez calls to mind the Holy Spirit’s words, speaking through Paul to the Corinthians, that “there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” 1 Cor 11,18
    .
    St JP II pray for us.

  6. Never has it been more obvious that the term, “progressive Catholic” is an oxymoron.

    Today’s progressivism contradicts Catholicism in every detail.

    All of the “progressive Catholics” I know of are excited by politics, not by Jesus Christ. Like Drinan, these nominal Catholics are only too willing to sell their spiritual birthright for a whiff of political power.

  7. Mr. Weigel writes that “Biden’s…Catholic…piety is genuine.”

    Here is a concise definition of piety, given by a man we all know: “If you love me, keep my Commandments.”

    This is the divine distillation of the virtue of piety, one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and elaborated here:

    https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=33735

    Mr. Weigel might be at a loss for words in asserting that Biden has “genuine piety,” since he is obviously not using the word piety in the Catholic sense.

    Perhaps it is just avhapless effort to give Biden some type of token of respect, when they meet at the “National Prayer Breakfast” or happily sup together at the sacred “Al Smith Dinner?”

  8. Pope John Paul was too kind. Contraception and other progressive wants damage not only society as a whole but serve to eliminate the very ability to think in individuals holding on to them. History shows that it is not uncommon for a held position to lead to the destruction of an individual’s ability to think outside of a narrow set of parameters. If we can say that such positions can be categorized, then, clearly, the ‘progressive’ position belongs to that category. For those not so categorized this is a problem. How does one relate to those who filter reality through a set of adamantly held positions which force them to see all others as similarly using a filter? In the mind of those in the category the only solution from a logical perspective is the death of the other, and for some to the point of self-immolation in the process. This is the psychological mindset of the progressives. They swear, insult, slander, organize, ostracize and belittle in every way that they can imagine, all while accusing their opponents of this very same thing – of which their opponents are very likely innocent. So, how does one deal with self-mutilated progressives? It seems that nothing can penetrate their protective carapace. Pointing out their faults falls on deaf ears, or only serves to give solace to those who recognize the folly of progressive positions. Am I to think Christ was too demanding; that love of one’s enemy is just too much to ask? This is the temptation that the Holy Spirit has presented to us. Just as He led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the Devil, He now leads us to a challenge to save a weak thinking world. Pray that he provides the Grace.

  9. The notion that progressive Catholicism has a need to regain anything under President Biden seems a bit of a stretch. Progressive Catholic thought is the mainstay of American Catholicism, with traditional Catholic worship gaining some ground but still well within fringe territory. One need only look at the actual practices of Catholic couples when it comes to contraception to know that any prohibitions that might have lingered from the 60s are, at best, now well forgotten or, more likely, never even considered. The acceptance of LGBTQ+ family members, friends, parishioners, colleagues, etc. further demonstrates an already pronounced shift among mainstream Catholics. Lay participation at Masses, women leading parishes, continued changing attitudes towards women’s ordination and a much more critical view of church leadership are not only a fixture of American Catholicism but have been more broadly adopted around the world, as well. Perhaps President Biden will further advance the movement. But it sure isn’t necessary for progressive Catholicism to continue to thrive.

    • 1 John 2:1-6:
      *
      2 My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6 he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
      *
      1 John 2:15-17:
      *
      15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.
      *
      Despite all his wisdom King Solomon failed to keep God’s commands and it led to the division of his kingdom. The Catholic Church was allowed to be divided during the Protestant Revolt, no different than King Solomon. God and His Will appears to be missing from your comment. Can a progressive Catholic pray an honest Our Father? You know, the part about “Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” That is the prayer that we pray before receiving the Holy Eucharist.

  10. It would be very interesting to know how many of those so called “Progressive Catholic’s” were part of those 81 Million votes Biden/Harris hauled in after Midnight on November 3rd-4th,2020

  11. “Rather than impose further expansions of abortion and contraception, as he has promised, I am hopeful that the new President and his administration will work with the Church and others of good will.” This statement from Bishop Gomez’s inauguration day letter is already well out of date. Biden has issued numerous pro-death, pro-abortion executive orders without any thought of working with the Church.
    I guess, as Mr. Weigel says, the letter was a measured response. On the one hand the bishop says that Biden is for abortion, but, on the other hand, he is against racism, poverty, etc.(as though the republican candidate was for racism and poverty.
    Since both the bishop and Mr. Weigel commend Biden’s piety, I would like to know their definition of piety.
    We are in a war, a spiritual war, and measured responses are not going to do it.

  12. What is a command if it melts away in a sea of pluralism? What is a Crucifixion if its legacy is merely subject to feelings? George Weigel’s thesis is a variation on a progressive theme by John Courtney Murray SJ the true kind versus the Biden kind. Measured by the amount of Martini Rossi dry added to his, Murray’s cocktail. There are lots of “woulds” regarding Murray’s putative reaction to Fantasyland progressivism, based on what writings Weigel has read that are available to the serious scholar, which Weigel is, notably the highly controversial Dignitatis Humanae. Courtney Murray didn’t simply contribute to Dignitatis; he was the primary author. Where did Murray stand on the major issues that have impacted the practice of Catholicism? “The lead drafter of the declaration was the New York Jesuit John Courtney Murray, who had written about Catholicism and church-state relations since the 1940s. Murray told reporter Robert Blair Kaiser in 1965 that the ‘resolution of the religious liberty issue had transferential implications’ for those trying to work out the birth control question (Leslie Griffin quoting Robert Blair Kaiser, The Politics of Sex and Religion in article What Might Have Been: Contraception and Religious Liberty).” Courtney Murray had long standing conflict with conservative bishops in Am in Rome notably Cardinal Ottaviani. Murray’s counsels to Rome prior to Vat II were consistently rejected. Did Murray have grasp of a form of pluralism that allowed for independent thought on Catholic doctrine that either resolved or conflicted with coercive authority? The irony is that at the time Murray authored Dignitatis the issue was not essentially Catholic doctrine and individual conscience, rather State authority now slowly usurping the traditional role of the Church as arbiter of social mores. As to that issue Dignitatis was a success. “The ‘American Proposition,’ John Courtney Murray notes ‘rests on the forthright assertion of a realist epistemology. There are truths, and we hold them, and we here lay them down as the basis and inspiration of the American project, this constitutional commonwealth.’ The Proposition begins by looking to the sovereignty of God as announced in The Declaration as the first principle of America’s political organization. We aren’t Jacobins. This part of the Proposition is, Murray announces, a crucial limitation on government because it recognizes that man’s highest calling rests above government’s competency” (Richard M. Reinsch II on Charles Murray, John Courtney Murray SJ A Direct Glance at America in Law and Liberty). Nowhere in Dignitatis does Murray speak to the responsibility of Catholics to form conscience in accord to what the Church teaches [including Humanae Vitae] in its coercive capacity upholding Christ’s commandments and Apostolic Tradition. That understanding of religious liberty and the responsibility of conscience to the truth as revealed by Christ is the cleavage within our Church and the distancing from his revelation. This was the core issue that John Courtney Murray SJ did not resolve.

    • I should clarify, “including Humanae Vitae” implied by statements such as that to “reporter Robert Blair Kaiser in 1965”. Dignitatis was published 1965. Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae project was an offshoot of previous questions and discussions on contraception. “With the appearance of the first oral contraceptives in 1960, dissenters in the Church argued for a reconsideration of the Church positions. In 1963 Pope John XXIII established a commission of six European non-theologians to study questions of birth control and population. It met once in 1963 and twice in 1964. As Vatican Council II was concluding, Pope Paul VI enlarged it to fifty-eight members, including married couples, laywomen, theologians and bishops. The last document issued by the council [Gaudium et spes] contained a section titled ‘Fostering the Nobility of Marriage’ 1965, nos. 47-52, which discussed marriage from the personalist point of view” (Wikipedia). It’s widely understood that religious freedom, the right to choose in accord to conscience and the laxity of implementing Humane Vitae in Am and elsewhere is largely the legacy of Dignitatis Humanae.

  13. “Alas, that protocol seems not to have occurred to the op-ed editors at the Washington Post who, on January 28, ran an article in which E.J. Dionne, Jr., joined the progressive Catholic media chorus in its two obsessions of the moment: the denunciation of Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles for the Inauguration Day statement in which the USCCB president expressed concern about certain likely Biden administration policies, and the claim that President Biden’s election will accelerate the revival of liberal Catholicism in America.”

    Liberal (or progressive) Catholicism is an oxymoron. There is a book that should be read by everyone who identifies as Catholic: “Liberalism is a Sin.” It can be found online.

    Even the word Catholicism (which is NOT accepted by the Church as a description of its beliefs) implies that it is some kind of ideology. However, I submit that every ideology is somehow false. The Catholic Church teaches truth and can’t teach falsehood.

  14. I loved Mr. Weigel’s succinct yet powerful statement:

    Catholic progressivism . . ., having lost so many of the intellectual arguments over the past forty years while demonstrating its evangelical and pastoral sterility, it now looks to political power to resuscitate itself.

  15. Just as I do not ascribe personal guilt to the soul of President Biden for the ignorance and/or culpability of his views, neither do I extend personal approbation to his alleged personal piety. He will be judged on both conditions in due time. We can all judge his actions, however, by the means by which we judge the morality of any issue and by that measure he is woefully short. For some of our clergy to give him personal cover that includes public actions inimical to common morals is clearly a scandal and they also will have to answer. A rather sorry situation to find the Church in.

  16. There are times when Wiegel wraps himself in scholarly commentary to avoid the obvious. Chiding the Catholic left, as he does, is futile. They check their beliefs and consciences with their ideology and party. Except for the virtuous veneer it supplies, there is little to no interest in Catholic morality and ethics. All of that is subservient to progressivism, and folks like Bergoglio, Cupich and Tobin, are little more than flowerpots to pretty-up the place, and stooges, to boot … supplying ammunition for their own demise.

    • “There are times when Wiegel wraps himself in scholarly commentary to avoid the obvious.”

      Having had a number of long conversations with Mr. Weigel, I politely disagree.

  17. Catholic progressives haven’t “surrendered to” the zeitgeist; they LOVE the zeitgeist. They’ve welcomed it with open arms.

  18. To find that E.J.Dionne is making a mess of truth and accuracy is not surprising, He’s been doing it for decades.
    Those “Fellow-Catholics who believe what the Church teaches” have all surrendered to the culture, failing in numerous ways, and so we get Joe Biden. What can you say about a 78 year-old man who uses his bully pulpit to validate teen-age girls (or anyone, of course) having abortions? His total assault on tradition and reason itself is just unbelievable.

  19. Let us love one another.
    Clearly, America was given two choices for presidency and there is plenty of judgements made on both of them. Who will judge me? You? Perhaps, if we all get out of the judging business the healing can begin.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. SATVRDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.


*