During the last couple of weeks it seems that the Tablet, Britain's leading "liberal Catholic" magazine, has drawn the fire of not one but two prelates. The first instance involved inaccuracies in a Tablet editorial about a Latin Mass Conference and a local auxiliary bishop called the authors to task for a "skewed understanding of Catholic liturgy."
The second instance involved criticism from Denver's Archbishop Charles Chaput centered around a Tablet editorial on U.S. healthcare. His Excellency wrote that the editorial contained "unhelpful and badly informed opinions" and "sounded like it had been written by President Obama's 'Acolytes.'"
All this comes from a report published today by Will Heaven at Telegraph.co.uk. Mr. Heaven expands his analysis as follows ...
The magazine’s present crisis seems to hint at something more profound. The concept of liberal Catholicism, it seems, is crumbling before our eyes. Of course, it was always flawed. Liberal Catholics want a Church that: moves with the times and is “progressive”; allows for the use of contraception and abortion in some instances; is more lenient towards homosexuality; allows for the laicisation of the Catholic world and freedom to experiment with liturgy.
The Catholic Church, on the other hand, hasn’t budged. It is unchanging in its stance towards the sanctity of human life and remains quite clear where it stands on homosexuality. It wants the laity to remain active, but in their rightful place. In other words, if liberal Catholics want a Church that moves with the times, they’re in the wrong place.
So just what is behind this perceived decay of "liberal Catholicism"? Well, for one thing Pope Benedict XVI strikes Mr. Heaven as more traditional than his predecessor. But he thinks there's more to it than that:
The Internet - and how Catholics are using it to communicate with each other - has played a huge part as well. Ten years ago, you would not often have a US archbishop criticizing a wayward editorial in a British Catholic magazine. Nor would the laity have access to Vatican documents which they can print out to show to their local parish priest. The Internet has changed all of this.
Sure, the Catholic Church has always been about universals. But now Catholics have formed an online community they’re becoming a more coherent force, and they won’t be sidelined or misrepresented. President Obama and his liberal Catholic friends should take note.
So should some U.S. bishops.