In his speech, called now the Biglietto Speech, formalizing his appointment as Cardinal, Cardinal Henry Newman spoke about liberalism:
For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now, when, alas! it is an error overspreading, as a snare, the whole earth;…
Cardinal Newman goes on to say:
Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion.Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. Devotion is not necessarily founded on faith. Men may go to Protestant Churches and to Catholic, may get good from both and belong to neither. They may fraternise together in spiritual thoughts and feelings, without having any views at all of doctrine in common, or seeing the need of them. Since, then, religion is so personal a peculiarity and so private a possession, we must of necessity ignore it in the intercourse of man with man. If a man puts on a new religion every morning, what is that to you? It is as impertinent to think about a man’s religion as about his sources of income or his management of his family. Religion is in no sense the bond of society.
And so what has changed since 1879. Liberalism has grown and is now rampant, not only in society but in the church as well. When Cardinal Newman spoke he spoke as if the Church. would not be infected, “I lament it deeply, because I foresee that it may be the ruin of many souls; but I have no fear at all that it really can do aught of serious harm to the Word of God, to Holy Church, to our Almighty King, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Faithful and True, or to His Vicar on earth. ” And yet, we know that there are elements within the church that would see no objective truths in the statements of the church as codified in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
What is occurring today is a form of ‘subjective relativism’ where there is not ‘One’ truth, but many. Where there is not one God (but variations in belief), not one Church (but variations of Church), not one baptism (but variations of baptism), and if they preach ‘love, tolerance, and acceptance’ they are deemed right. People have forgotten, in their urge to be nice and accommodating, that there is an objective reality which is TRUTH:
- there is only one God;
- there is only one way to holiness, through Christ “who is the way, the truth, and the life”;
- that Christ died for love, so that my/your sin would not keep us from being eternally with the Father
- that we need to repent, and be converted, each and every day
- there is one Church instituted by Christ
- there is one baptism – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
- there is one faith – expressed in the Creeds, and codfied in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in terms of faith and morals.
It is not about keeping oneself pure, it is about keeping oneself holy, and saving souls. We must be true to Christ, His Church, His Vicar, and the Magesterium s codified in the Catechism – if we are not then we spread error and untruth. Watered down, liberal, subjective faith saves no one. Faith that follows the saints, that is uncompromising in terms of faith and morals, and that actually believes in what has been given by Christ to the world is what is needed today. I will leave the last word to Cardinal Newman; “Commonly the Church has nothing more to do than to go on in her own proper duties, in confidence and peace; to stand still and to see the salvation of God. “The meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace” (Ps 37:11).