I don’t want to give John Zmirak any more credit than he deserves, but as I mentioned previously I (and others) owe him something of a debt of gratitude for (first?) deploying the term “illiberal Catholicism” during one of his petulant rants earlier this year. Patrick Deneen, writing in The American Conservative, used the term “radical Catholicism” when describing a contingent of the anti-liberal Catholic thinkers Zmirak and his liberal cohorts cannot stand. (For the record, I am here using “liberal” in the classic sense which the Church routinely condemned up through the middle of the 20th C.) However, as I have discussed in several posts on this blog, including “The Other Illiberal Catholicism,” “A Note on Illiberal Catholicism,” and “Opus Publicum and Illiberal Catholicism,” the illiberal-Catholic landscape is fairly broad. The landscape broadens out even further once you start including other confessions. While I have strong reservations concerning their theological project, the so-called “Radical Orthodoxy” movement has taken a strong stand against the liberal-capitalist consensus which emerged in the West over the course of the last century. Sometimes this has made for interesting associations. John Milbank, Radical Orthodoxy’s leading theologian, wrote a supportive blurb for Catholic traditionalist Christopher Ferrara’s magnum opus Liberty: The God That Failed.
I am making mention of these earlier posts because I think it is important for all of those who are rightly skeptical of, and thus stand in opposition towards, the marriage of Christianity and liberalism to know they have allies. Too often Catholics—to say nothing of other Christians—get caught in their own theological-political enclaves. This is no more or less true of traditional Catholics than it is of proponents of the “new theology” such as thinkers often associated with the international journal Communio. While there are obvious and substantial disagreements between these and other “camps” within the Catholic Church, that does not mean those disagreements cannot be temporarily set aside in order to shine light on the larger problem of Catholic writers, thinkers, magazines, and think tanks attempting to promote a false ideology of liberal Catholicism which places its hopes in religious neutrality (if not privatization), free markets, and utilitarian social policies.
If I can offer any advice to you, dear reader, let it be this: read broadly. After you visit Ethika Politika or check out Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig’s web-log, crack open a copy of Jean Ousset’s Action. Digest John Medaille’s Toward a Truly Free Market, but make sure to pick up Fr. Edward Cahill’s The Framework of a Christian State. Take Pope Francis’s words about global capitalism and inequality seriously, but don’t forget to give equally serious attention to Pope Pius XI’s Quas Primas and Quadragesimo Anno. Myopia has nothing to offer.