Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

the iron fist of liberalism

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Feb 14, 2007

The UK Tablet continues its crusade for Brokeback Montanism, most recently by means of a curiously argued essay urging the Church toward a Vichy-style capitulation that acknowledges the de facto coercive power of sexual Leftism:

Liberal society is leavened through with toughness: it has plenty of state powers to resist subversion from within as well as from without; it has a whole cohort of laws punishing hate speech and other kinds of unacceptable talk. It now has anti-discrimination laws to prohibit not all kinds of discrimination but rather only those that offend against its model of tolerance and broad-mindedness -- like refusing to accept same-sex couples for adoption, for example. In the post-socialist age, non-faith-based progressives are deadly serious about imposing their liberalism, as the Catholic hierarchy has now found to its cost.

Liberalism -- the author stops short of saying -- is intrinsically illiberal. Note his highly paradoxical use of the terms "toughness" and "subversion." Far from seeing this radical incoherence as a sign that liberalism's promises of freedom are promises it cannot deliver, the author urges the Church to make a virtue of necessity. Whereas earlier liberals urged Catholics to bend over backwards to accommodate the counter-Christian citizenry, today's Tablet urges us to bend over forwards. The counter-Christians, after all, are in a position to take by force what is not offered freely.

How should the Church react to the challenge of this liberal vision of society? It should recognise, first, that it is much better than the rampant capitalist world of competing selfish individuals that might otherwise be on view, and second, that it seeks a much better world than one in which all are allowed to discriminate to their heart's content. And finally, with one large exception, the liberal vision of society is very close to that of the Church, with progressives and Catholics being almost always on the same side on such key issues as esteem, dignity and opportunity for all. The one exception, the radically different approach taken to sexuality, is often more to the fore among the senior church leadership that it is on the ground at parish level.

The last sentence above shows the author is familiar neither with senior church leadership (and their triathletes-in-waiting) nor with the attitudes of parishioners "on the ground." Still, he confidently exhorts us to seize on the solicited, er, partnership:

The liberal vision of a tolerant society based on mutual respect but also on a rejection of intolerance is not one to be feared. Rather, it is an offer of partnership that the Church should joyfully seize. But first it has to work out how on earth to manoeuvre itself out of the cul-de-sac of sexuality into which its universality has forced it. Liberal society knows exactly where it is going; does the Church?

The historical naiveté of this conspectus -- in suggesting that "the radically different approach taken to sexuality" is the Church's innovation -- is stunning. It's the European sexual anarchism (which the author misleadingly labels "liberalism") that has departed from the traditions of moral discourse, that has failed to explain itself publicly, and that has crawled into a cul-de-sac that is demographic as well as philosophical. No matter how "liberal" its rhetorical piety, a future built on Andrew Sullivan's grand-daughters will find liberty in short supply at the ‘Abd Khaled al-Mash’al Museum of Infidel History (earlier known as Oxford University).

The Tablet essay does, however, make one excellent point that needed to be foregrounded earlier, viz., the doctrinal inconsistency in the English bishops' plea for an opt-out in the gay adoption ruse:

The Church's stand left many questions to be answered. Are homosexual acts a "grave depravity", as the Vatican says, if within the context of a loving, monogamous relationship. And if so, why are the bishops so apparently relaxed about allowing referrals of such couples to other adoption agencies?

Point taken -- even if the upshot is the opposite of what the author intended: depravity is depravity no matter how heartfelt the valentines on the mantelpiece. Whence the bishops should make it clear that the key moral offense is not simply Catholic "brokerage" of adoption by gays, but the consignment of the innocent (to use the traditional Italian term) to households in which nuptial love is excluded as a matter of principle -- irrespective of the agency that expedites the transaction. The children -- the pawns in the social experiment -- have done no wrong. Do we want to put them in a family where both mommies think like Peter Tatchell? Do we want to find them in a ménage where their "daddies" take in the Tablet?

AP photo

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