So, about this website ...

"Is Pope John Paul II too LIBERAL?" -- 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.

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. . . .

It was in fact John 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:
  • 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 there a middle ground between capitalism and socialism? Is there such a thing as a "Catholic Libertarian"? Is the "free market" compatible with 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?
This debate occupied two prominent groups of Catholics during the 1990's-2000's -- those loosely classified as "Whig Thomists" or Catholic neoconservatives (George Weigel, Michael Novak, and Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus, prominently featured in the journal First Things) and another loose set of individuals: David Schindler of Communio, the philosopher Alisdair MacIntyre, and "Augustinian Thomist" Dr. Tracey Rowland. For a summary of the debate from the Augustinian Thomist perspective, see "The Church's Response to Modernity" (Zenit News interview with Dr. Tracey Rowland 07/25/05).

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. Those interested in the debate over just war may refer to another archive and chronicle of the 2002-03 "just war debate".

As always I welcome comments and criticisms. If you encounter online articles I may have missed, please don't hesitate to email me.

Update: June 13, 2014

We have come a long way since this website was founded, with the passing of Pope John Paul II, the election of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI (who had much to contribute on these issues, both in his past writings as Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith as well as during his pontificate). And now with the abdication of Benedict XVI and the subsequent election of Pope Francis, we have a new voice weighing in.

In light of which, it seems appropos that we spend some time redesigning this website, with additional content and features. Your patience is appreciated.