March 1992 Print

The Three Faces of Liberalism

by Felix Gros

But I fear lest, 
as the serpent seduced Eve by his subtility, 
so your minds should be corrupted .. . 
for Satan himself transformeth himself 
into an angel of light.” (
II Corinthians, 11:3,14

In his spendid booklet Liberalism is a Sin, Father Felix Sarda y Salvany presents an enjoyable description of the symptoms of Liberalism, the fatal disease of the modern mind.

The author recognizes three different classes of Liberals: the extreme Liberals, the moderate Liberals, and the Catholic Liberals. In studying the physiognomy of these three types we shall be able to unmask the three ugly faces of Liberalism.

Its first face is so evidently ugly that it does not require a lot of expertise to be detected. “The extreme Liberal does not attempt to deny or conceal his perversity. He is the declared enemy of the Pope, of the priests, of everything ecclesiastical. He is a revolutionary, a socialist, an anarchist. He glories in societies, dies in their embrace, and is buried by their ritual. He has always defied religion and dies in its defiance.”

The “aggiornamento” of the worldly postconciliar clergy makes obsolete this Jacobin type. Indeed, such an old-fashioned extreme Liberal would be very much disconcerted at finding Moder-nist bishops and priests cheering in his own field.

The second face is still ugly; but a good cosmetic can somehow hide a moderate Liberal. “This one is just as bad as his extreme confrere but he takes good care not to appear so. Social conventionalities and good manners are everything to him: these points secured, the rest is of little importance. Provided his iniquity is kid-gloved, it finds ready extenuation in his own mind. The niceties of polite society preserved, his liberalism knows no bounds. It is with him a question of manner, not matter.”

“The moderate Liberal does not detest the Pope; he only blames certain exaggerations of ultramontanism, which do not fall in with the trend of modern thought. He may even like priests, above all those who have caught the twang of modern progress; as for fanatics and reactionaries he simply avoids or pities them. His maxim is: in the Church to live as a Christian; outside of the Church to live as the world lives, according to the times in which one is born, and not to obstinately swim against the stream. He dies with the priest on one side, his infidel literature on the other, and imagines that his Creator will applaud his breadth of mind.”

In short, he is the typical arrogant, vain and blind Liberal who deceives himself and the others with his pretty facade. Note that those affected by this second mode of liberalism usually act in perfect “good will.” Like a mesmerizing mantra, the continuous repetition of their kind, progressive and tolerant ideas will even tually convince the moderate Liberals of their righteousness. The poor men will be prisoner of their own distorted concepts, trapped in their Liberalism and unable to even consider the possibility of being wrong. Malace in Wonderland .. .

Our intrepid author goes on. The third face, the ugliest, the most dangerous of all, is the one of the Liberal Catholic.

“He is generally a good man and sincerely pious; he exhales nevertheless an odor of Liberalism in everything he says, writes or takes up. This courageous man reasons, speaks and acts as a Liberal WITHOUT KNOWING IT! His strong point is charity; in fact, he is charity itself. To treat as a liar the man who propagates false ideas is, in the eyes of this singular theologian, to sin against the Holy Ghost. To him the falsifier is simply misguided; he has only been misled, the poor souL We ought neither to resist nor to combat the enemy; we must strive to attract him by soft words and pretty compliments . .”

“From the Gospel he is careful to cite only those texts flavored with honey and milk. He reserves the denun-ciatory texts to use against those provoking ultramontanes, who everyday compromise, by their exaggerated and harsh language, the cause of a religion all peace and love. Against them his liberalism, ordinarily so sweet and gentle, grows bitter and violent. Against them his zeal flames up, his polemics grow sharp and his charity aggressive . . . He saves the treasure of his tolerance and his charity for the sworn enemies of the Faith! What more natural? Does not the poor man want to attract them? On the other hand, for the most heroic defenders of the Faith he has only sarcasm and invective.”

The -- let us call him by his name --, “Liberal Catholic” will instinctively filter whatever troubles his Liberalism. He will not permit “unfair” discrimination against friends holding different ideas, and will not “reproach” them with heresy and error. He will not have “uncontrolled” TV at home; his children will listen to “soft rock” only; his wife and daughters will use pants for “special occasions”, and latter will only date “good” non-catholics; he will be happy if the church organizes a “well supervised” dance and, deep in his heart, he deplores the lack of humility of certain inflexible clerics who prevent “good” people coming to his church. Do you get the picture?

I say it with firm respect: priests are not exempted from this infection. There are some Liberal ecclesiastics who refuse to consider whatever does not fit their expectations, as in the legend of Procrustes and his bed. They will obey their Superiors until they are asked to do something that they do not like. Liturgy, Canon Law, Theology; everything must pass through the filter of their emotions, preferences or dislikes. And usually they finish badly.

I can hear you saying: how could a good Catholic be a Liberal? Isn’t it a contradiction? We must understand that the Liberal Catholic can certainly have the object of faith, but the motive of his faith is wrong! Faith is an act of our in-telligence which submits itself to the authority of God; the motive of our faith must be “the authority of God Who reveals,” and not our sentimental feelings. A Liberal will have a different motive: he has seen, he has checked, he has decided that he likes a religion which makes sense to him The motive of HIS faith is a Liberal one, it is HIMSELF! You see how weak and spineless are the foundations of such “faith”; a change of temper, a disappointment or a neurotic episode will turn our Liberal Catholic into a Buddhist or a Lutheran . .

The Liberal disease has terrible consequences in the logical process of thinking and also in the criteria of behavior of those affected by it.

He does not know how to give a direct blow. He knows no other tactics than to attack on the flank . . . With the enemy in full assault, with the implacable hatred and cunning of falsehood almost sweeping over him, he would withstand the hostile charge with the paper barriers of an illusive peace.”

Here you have them: three different faces of the same Liberal monster! Three faces to deceive different types of people; three different traps for different victims. You can find them throughout history, religion, art and music . . . Protestantism had a vile Luther, a subtle Melanchton and a charming Erasmus; Catholic France was destroyed by a bloody Robespierre, a pagan erudite like Rousseau and a poisonous intellectual like Voltaire; the Papal States are reduced to a Symbol because of personalities so different as Garibaldi, Car-your and Napoleon; the degradation of art was perfected by radicals like Kandinsky and Picasso, but also by a gentle Matisse. Kant thought rubbish, Marx wrote it, Lenin preached it . . . and the poor Russians eat the product. There was a Modernist Loisy and there was a less rabid but equally

Modernist De Lubac. There are the heavy “Judas’ Priests,” the strong “Rolling Stones” and the soft “Air Supply.” There is a Communist-Catholic Bishop Casaldaliga, a Postconciliar-Catholic Cardinal Casaroli and a Conservative Catholic Rat-zinger . . . Three different faces of the same monster! The extreme, the moderate, the shy .. .

The Liberal Catholic is the real satanic type, because he is the most difficult to detect. His face is the masked evil which nowadays is the chief cause of the ravages of Liberalism within the Church. Even among Catholics of Tradition there are those described with the words of Saint Paul as “false apostles, deceitful workmen who have transformed themselves into the apostles of Christ.” (II Cor. 11,13) And many of them do not even know it!

They match beautifully the third type of Liberal described by Father Sarda. They are frank, kind and very, very sincere. Their proud motto is “in medio stat virtus.” They are pious, and their religious convictions are firm. They argue with their Novus Ordo friends and they love their priests -- with sincere love -- and will help their pastor to do what they want him to do . . . but they do not dare to attack the enemy, since they want to attract him; they are instinctively allergic to whatever seems to be an act of authority on the part of their superior, parent or priest; they always need an explanation and they love to discuss and to debate every single issue.

A diabolical “non serviam!” of the intellect, the whole Liberal system of thought is based not upon objective truth but upon the negation of an outside reality from which we apprehend our concepts. The Liberal (call him Modernist or Idealist) closes himself from the objective world and the only reality is whatever dark phenomenon appears in his cons-cience. Saint Pius X in “Pascendi” denounces the abomina-tion of those whose faith is “the product of an intellectual reflection which transforms into mental pictures the vital phenomena which arise within the conscience.” In a word, Liberal sentimentalism and subjectivism become the norm of truth.

So there we are: three ugly faces . . . masking what, or whom? The old wicked serpent, the “father of lies”, Satan himself. There is only one remedy against Liberalism: A JOYFUL SUBMISSION TO THE TRUTH! To the Liberal “Non serviam!” let us oppose a triumphant “Quis ut Deus!”