That was the question National Catholic Reporter journalist John Allen Jr. posed on August 22, 2003:
The question cuts against most conventional wisdom. If the man who said “no” to women’s ordination, gay marriage, and decentralization of power isn’t a conservative, many people would insist, then there’s no such animal.It was in fact Mr. Allen's column which inspired this website and our homegrown investigation of the relationship between the Catholic faith and what has been called America's experiment in "ordered liberty." Such questions as:
But what if one has in mind not the sense in which Ted Kennedy is “liberal,” but in which virtually all Westerners are “liberals,” i.e., the classic notion of liberalism as belief in democracy, human rights, and free markets? If that’s the standard, then John Paul, though not uncritically, stacks up as a basically “liberal” pope.
Witness his proud claim that Christianity actually shaped the core tenets of liberalism in his August 17 Angelus address: “The Christian faith gave form [to Europe], and some of its fundamental values in turn inspired ‘the democratic ideal and the human rights’ of European modernity,” the Pope said.
Not everyone in the Catholic world approves. Although the movement has largely flown under media radar, John Paul faces a growing conservative opposition to this embrace of liberalism, understood in the classic sense. . . .
- What are the religious and philosophical foundations of the 'The American Experiment'?
- Is the liberal tradition (understood in the sense of democracy, human rights and the free market) a help or a hinderance to the life of the Church and evangelization?
- Is capitalism and the free market compatible with Christian morality and the social teachings of the Catholic Church?
- What is the proper role of religion in the public life of America today and how ought we to interpret the 'separation of Church and State'?
- What is the proper understanding of freedom, conscience and religious liberty in Catholic tradition?
For a summary of the debate from the Augustinian Thomist perspective, see The Church's Response to Modernity with Dr. Tracey Rowland (Zenit News, July 25, 2005).
Please note that the purpose of this website is to serve as an archive of articles and resources available online, and to other helpful websites pertaining to this important discussion -- a depository of pertinent information for those interested in these issues. Furthermore, while the debate between the 'Catholic neoconservatives' and their critics has expanded into issues of foreign policy (such as the Iraq war), this website is by and large confined to theoretical matters of political and economic philosophy. For a similar archive and chronicle of the 2002-03 "just war debate" over Iraq.
As always I welcome comments and criticisms. If you encounter online articles I may have missed, please don't hesitate to email me.