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Catholic conservatives and liberals: a necessary orthodox counterbalance

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Before you come after me like the townspeople in 'Shrek,' hear me out.

The conservative and liberal Catholic I am speaking about is not the ultra-conservative, nor is it the radical cafeteria liberal, that picks and chooses which Church Teaching to follow, in effect, creating their own 'paper mache' Jesus. I am not speaking of Sedavacantists on the right, nor am I speaking of pro-choice 'nuns on the bus' on the left.

I am speaking of faithful Catholics with the flair of the Holy Spirit within them, some conserving, and some liberating.

I am speaking of authentic Catholicism, Vatican II style, Saint JPII style, Pope Benedict XVI style, and Pope Francis style. I am speaking of those who are both faithful to Church Tradition, and as G.K. Chesterton said, giving a vote to the dead, while moving toward the spiritual horizon of the Second Coming of Christ in the newness of the Holy Spirit. Conserving the Truth in dogma, liturgy, and Eucharist, while liberating the world from 'the father of lies' in the enculturation of peoples in the creativity of the Holy Spirit, and the diversity of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

After all, like all the saints which followed Him, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, conserved the Law, down to the last iota, in Justice and Mercy, while liberating souls through a language and table manner which allowed His intimate, saving touch.

Let's try an experiment. Here is a test case of the vanilla and chocolate exegesis (eisegesis?) tendency:

"There broke out a severe persecution of the Church in Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria, except the Apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made a loud lament over him. Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment.

Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Thus Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city." Acts 8:1-8

Liberals can drive conservatives batty.

Conservatives can cause liberals to pull their hair out.

Liberals tend to see Philip's preaching and the people's subsequent joy, while glossing over messy matters like persecutions and false imprisonments. Conservatives (like me) tend to dwell on the persecutions and unjust imprisonments, while missing out on some of the joy of evangelization. I know that this is a generalization, and like all generalizations there are more than a few exceptions, so please forgive me if you are a wonder-bread Catholic, both super conservative and super-liberating! Mere mortals like me struggle with the finite reality of tending toward either one or the other.

The truth, however, is that after all our crazy battles, we truly need each other.

“'Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you, sing praise to your name!' Come and see the works of God, his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam." Psalm 66:1-7

The Truth is, if we truly take God at His Word (in Scripture, in Apostolic Teaching, AND in His Word Jesus), we will realize that we are both--in conservative and liberal--His One Body, and siblings, in the fallen nature of Adam. We are different in perspective, and priority, but we are the same in God's Love, in God's Mercy, and in God's sanctifying Spirit.

Therefore, we are called to the same Communion.

"Jesus said to the crowds, 'I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.'" John 6:35-40

Eucharistic Catholics embrace both Peter and John, Martha and Mary; both the Petrine and Marian dimension of our faith. We are active and contemplative, we are repentant and evangelical. We are in the world, but not of it. We learn from the past, live in the present, and strive for Jesus in His future coming. We speak an ancient, unchanging Truth in ever new language.

We are the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, sharing an unchanging, transcendent message of God's Love, in earthen vessels, in ways that an ever-changing world can understand.