Thanks to a friend who emailed me this morning, I’ve just read Selwyn Duke’s article at American Thinker, “Is Pope Francis Liberal or Conservative?” I heartily recommend it. While many of his doctrinal observations in that piece are “elementary” to well-formed Catholics, there are a lot of other points he makes that go beyond the basic, for instance, his sage comments on the nature of “conservatism” and “liberalism.” Would that more Americans who call themselves conservative knew this stuff.
The Catholic position is not conservative or liberal, but superior, and you don’t have to be Catholic to understand that this is not a claim born of sectarian chauvinism. The Church does not define itself based on a given society’s political and cultural spectrum, but based on Absolute Truth, which she recognizes to be transcendent, eternal, and unchanging. You may disagree with her conception of Truth, perhaps even profoundly, yet believing that Truth exists is the only rational position.
This relates to a conversion experience I had a long, long time ago. I realized that if there wasn’t something deeper than the political, deeper than the cultural even – if man’s opinions were all there is — then my “conservative” views were essentially meaningless. Sure, I liked them as I liked chocolate ice cream, but if they were just flavors of the day, how could I credibly say they were any better than liberal ones? To thus boast there had to a transcendent yardstick for judging such things. There had to be Truth.
Note that this doesn’t mean a given prelate can’t have what we call liberal or conservative instincts, and I have my reservations about Pope Francis, with his being a South American Jesuit. But the point is that when the media anxiously wait for a “liberal” pope that will deliver the Church to evil, they don’t realize that while such a man could exercise liberal tendencies, he could only do so outside the context of definitive teaching on faith and dogma. There is no “amendment process” for the commandments and their corollaries.
Hint: the second-to-last paragraph is a masterpiece. Please read it!