The Catholic debate over liberal society

Rod Dreher describes what happened at a conference sponsored by First Things on the future of religion in the public square.  In the course of doing so, he describes a current controversy among conservative Catholics:  The “Murrayites” believe that Catholicism is compatible with American-style political and economic liberalism.  (Not so much liberalism as left-wing ideology, but the ideals of liberty, democracy, and free-enterprise economics.)  Against this view are the “radical Catholics” who believe that this liberalism is incompatible with Christianity.

Read the remarks after the jump and click on the link to Patrick Deneen’s article on the conflict.  Substitute “Christian” for “Catholic.”  Do the points still hold for Christianity in general, or does the debate hinge on specific tenets of Catholicism?  Can there be a “Murrayite” Protestantism vs. a “radical” Protestantism?  Or is Protestantism intrinsically connected to liberalism?  How about “Lutheranism,” or does the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms work for any society?

I’m curious too what the alternative is for the “radicals.”  Some kind of authoritarian regime?  The Pope at the head of an Emperor, as in the Middle Ages?

[Read more...]

Catholics begin synod on marriage & sexual morality

The Extraordinary Synod on the Family is underway at the Vatican.  Two hundred bishops of the Roman Catholic Church summoned by the Pope will discuss the church’s teachings about marriage, divorce, contraceptives, annullments, and sexual morality.  In particular, the bishops will study the pastoral issues such teachings raise, such as whether divorced Catholics should receive be allowed to Communion and the fact that most Catholics ignore the church’s teachings about birth control, among other teachings on sex and family. [Read more...]

Half of marriages aren’t valid?

Roman Catholics don’t believe in divorce.  But they do allow for annulments.   These involve ecclesiastical tribunals that rule that a valid marriage never existed in the first place.  If it was determined that a couple was too young and didn’t know what they were doing or that they didn’t understand the Catholic theology of marriage, their marriage could be declared invalid.  Despite receiving the sacrament of marriage in their wedding, despite living together for decades, despite having children and raising them to adulthood, they weren’t really married, thus ratifying their civil divorce and allowing them to marry someone else.

Catholics who do get a divorce and remarry without an annulment (which is a very expensive and time-consuming process) incur automatic excommunication, meaning that they are not allowed to receive Holy Communion.  This affects lots of people, as you can imagine, and cuts seriously into church attendance.  So the church is reconsidering its practice, trying to find a way to allow remarried people to take Communion.

A leader of that effort is the retired German archbishop Cardinal Walter Kasper, who, in the course of an interview in Commonweal Magazine, dropped this bombshell that, strangely, has drawn little attention: “I’ve spoken to the pope himself about this, and he said he believes that 50 percent of marriages are not valid.” [Read more...]

Catholic, Calvinist, and Libertarian

David Brat, the Virginia economics professor who overthrew House Majority leader Eric Cantor in the Republican congressional primary, calls himself a “Calvinist Catholic libertarian.” Let’s hope Pope Francis doesn’t burn him at the stake!  But what could that possibly mean?

Does that make him, in effect, something like a Lutheran, holding to a sacramental spirituality that expresses salvation by grace alone, with a strong emphasis on Christian freedom?  Or is he trying to combine beliefs that can’t be combined?

Or is it mainly a matter of his social and economic theory? Julie Ingersoll explains that, after the jump. [Read more...]

Is the free market incompatible with Catholicism?

The pope’s right-hand man has essentially declared that free market economics is incompatible with Catholicism.  Speaking at a conference entitled “Erroneous Autonomy: The Catholic Case against Libertarianism,” Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, drawing on statements from Pope Francis, said that the free market economy “kills” and oppresses the poor.

His condemnation seemed to conflate Ayn Rand-style libertarianism with free market economics, but it also scored theological points against the assumptions of autonomous individualism.  Many prominent American advocates of free market economic policies–such as Rep. Paul Ryan, Father Robert Sirico,  and Michael Novak–are Roman Catholics.

Catholic conservatives, what do you make of this?  Do these arguments carry any wait for Protestants, or is Protestantism tied up with the same “autonomous individualism”? [Read more...]

“Spiritual Communion”?

According to Roman Catholicism, you can receive “spiritual communion” even when you don’t take actual, physical communion.  That is, if you desire to receive the sacrament, that is almost as good as actually receiving it.  I learned this seeming bit of Gnosticism from a post by Nicholas Frankovich as part of the discussion about whether or not divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive the Sacrament.

Note too, in the excerpt after the jump, that whereas Lutherans believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are given and received specifically for the forgiveness of sins, Roman Catholics believe that sinners must not receive them.  More evidence that Lutherans actually have a higher view of the Sacraments than Catholics do! [Read more...]


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