Friday, 18 February 2011

"...a liberal by any other name may smell so sweet..."

We Catholics use tags to describe each other according to where we stand in respect of the Church and I am probably more guilty than most. They used to say, in Northern Ireland during the peak of the terrorist activity, that, strangers sitting opposite one another on a train would commence a polite conversation whose sole purpose, in its early stages, was to determine whether they were speaking to a Tadhg (Catholic) or a Prod (Protestant). Once these facts had been established the conversation could take a more general note but always avoiding the possibility of broaching a subject that might have been offensive to one's travelling companion. It was a form of acute courtesy.

So how should we describe one another? Take a look at a few of the options on offer:-

Liberal, Traditionalist, Modernist, Orthodox, Right wing, Left wing, Conservative..... many more besides.

It would be good, I feel, if we had courtesy tags so that any potential for offence is removed. The trouble is...where does one start?
I am happy with Orthodox Catholic as being descriptive of where I stand in the faith. That is, totally true to the teachings of the faith and the Holy Father.

But what do you feel?  Do you have a tag that you would like to put forward?  (no abuse please).
Does the camp divide into just Liberal and Orthodox? Or are there more compartments that need tagging? Or perhaps we should chuck all current tags out of the window and go for something totally off the territory, any suggestions?


  1. I rather like the latest slogan on Fr. Z's mugs:

    "Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist".

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  3. Thanks for this post.

    I`m not happy with the alternative "Orthodox" vs. "Liberal", because this distinction ist often misunderstood.

    Take me, for instance: In points of faith, I consider myself to be orthodox; but politically seen I´m a conservative Liberal. So, I´m a catholic Liberal, but not a liberal Catholic.

  4. Both - yes it does get more complex doesn't it?
    I am plumping for Reformed Jew!

  5. I prefer the term 'Taliban Catholic'. For me it encompasses those traditional rabid dogs such as James Preece who endevour to destroy our church from within. Constantly undermining the authority and teachings of our hierarchy.
    His shameful Blog has become a very dark, cruel and negative place. Our church, our Archbishop and our Bishops are attacked daily with no thought given to the consequences.

    There is no charity, compassion, humility or kindness in his writing.
    Arrogance, bitterness and anger rule the day. If this is what it means to be a Traditional Catholic then I prefer to be a Liberal and I am very proud of that.

  6. I like "orthodox"; it seems more inclusive (in a good, and, erm, orthodox, way) than "traditionalist" which otherwise I might be more or less happy with.

    "right wing", "left wing" are surely to do with politics more than religion.

  7. I am a 'spiritual' catholic, believing that when I die, it'll be just HIM and me! Or maybe I judge myself in all that brightness?

    While here I use all the help available, catholic or not (Right now I'm enjoying a five-Monday class in Buddha.)

    Just try to be helpful in every situation--and I stay sober...that helps!

  8. I wonder whether "Orthodox Catholic" maybe has too many other connotations? In particular, I think it implies Eastern Rite Christianity (whether Eastern Catholic or Eastern Orthodox), and is therefore perhaps not best suited to those whose Catholicism is very much defined by the traditional Roman Rite.

  9. Wow, talk about planting a minefield! I'm not especially happy with "Taliban Catholic", even to describe the kind of nastiness Clare describes and which I've seen by some of the posters on Fr. Z's blog. Sorry, nastiness and bitterness don't equal bombing and shooting. On the other hand, I'm not all that polite about people who break with the Pope and bishops on any point of moral or theological dogma; my preferred term is "crypto-Protestant". There are points of faith which haven't been definitively settled, and on which practical Catholics in communion with the Pope can disagree; my main reference for such points is Dr. Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. But outside those areas ...? Maybe "liberal" is the closest to value-neutral we can come.

  10. Funny how Clare complains that Catholics of a traditional mould, are all arrogant and bitter. Has anyone read her comment? Yep - she's so full of sweet joy herself...

  11. Clare, I think you're the only Taliban here!
    It would be good if comments could be constructive though. If not, we just return to Mods and Trads.