Herein lies in simple terms the solution to the relation between theology andliberalism. Take any old or modern saint. Take, for instance, Mother Teresa,whom everybody would consider a living saint. She is heroic, she is daring, sheis compassionate, she is understanding-qualities which liberals like to ascribeto themselves. But a liberal she cannot be called, not even by the fartheststretch of the imagination. And all the liberals in the Church know that herheroic virtues present a far greater threat to them than all the non-liberaltheologians taken together. And this is why liberal theologians poured out agood dosage of their sophisticated scorn when the road was opened for Newman'seventual canonization after Rome declared that he had heroically practicedChristian virtues.
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There is, however, no reference to liberalism in the encyclical. A possiblereason for this is the amorphous character of what is meant by liberalism. It isdifficult to improve in this respect on the words of Ramsay Muir, a prominentprofessor of economics, who, in the wake of World War I described liberalism asfollows:
Neoliberalism: origins, theory, definition - InterNLnet
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What is the common theological trait of all these manifestations ofliberalism in theology? It is the upsetting of the balance between the naturaland the supernatural. As a theological term the supernatural was coined bymedieval scholastic theologians, especially by Thomas Aquinas. Liberaltheologians see in the medieval provenance of that term the Achilles' heel ofthe traditional doctrine that grace, being the utterly gratuitous gift of God,is not merited. But if one can argue against anything medieval just because itis medieval, then the twentieth-century liberal cannot protest if his views areslighted at the outset for their being no less time-conditioned.
These are dark days for liberalism
That logic has been at work for four centuries now in Protestantism. Barthmerely reacted to that logic without drawing the full logic of what he had seenunfold as a historic fact. Much less could he be expected to draw that logic inthe full glare of publicity. Indeed, only in strict privacy did a prominentBarthian, whose name I am not at liberty to divulge, disclose to me hissuspicion that naturalism is the real outcome of Protestantism. Naturalism isalso the chief harm which liberalism is producing in Catholic theology.
The legislative priorities for the ruling party have thus far tanked
The optimist view of human nature which is fostered in liberalism forces theliberal theologian to be silent on hell. If he speaks of heaven he describes itas a place into which everybody would slide almost naturally and almostinsensibly. Naturalism lurks between the lines of such a statement in the sermondelivered at the funeral service of Jacqueline Kennedy that we all should be"filled with gratitude for the graces lavished upon Jacqueline and throughher upon us all, and most of all gratitude for the gift of salvation that Godhas won for Jacqueline." Lackeying to the rich, the powerful, and theglamourous (especially when it flies in the face of matters public and obvious)does not seem to jibe with Paul's warning that we all should work on oursalvation "with fear and trembling." But this warning is hardly echoedeven in modest contexts. Liberalism in theology translates itself into"politically correct," that is, plainly naturalist language when at atypical Christian burial not a word is being said about judgment, particular orfinal. The resurrection of the body will then become a prospect for all, sinceliberal theology overemphasizes the Catholic doctrine that nobody is condemnedfor personal fault.