"Liberal Catholic" is not a contradiction in terms.

On the April 8 edition of CNN’s Inside Politics, CNN hosts Wolf Blitzer and Judy Woodruff discussed Pope John Paul II’s funeral with Crossfire co-hosts Paul Begala and Robert Novak, both Catholics. Blitzer opened the segment by suggesting that while “I’m sure Bob is a good Catholic, I’m not so sure about Paul Begala.” In responding to Blitzer, Begala took exception to on-screen text* earlier in the program that characterized many Catholic doctrines as “conservative.”

(From Media Matters)

Ignorance reigns. Memory fails.

Father Philip Berrigan just died 3 years ago, his brother Daniel is still alive and we somehow identify Catholicism with conservatism. We properly identify Catholicism with anti-abortion and anti-gay positions, but there isn’t much else that America’s right wing shares with the Church.

The Church is opposed to the materialistic culture that corporations like CNN peddle in order to foster this type of stereotyping ignorance. The Church (see below) is in favor of living wages, universal health care for workers. The Pope opposed the Iraq war. The Church is fundamentally opposed to the death penalty.

If you’ve been sucked into the narrow mediocrity of the leaders of the American Church, then all that matters is abortion. And yes, these men were almost all appointees of John Paul II. And yes, the Church’s position on condoms in Africa is incomprehensible—but assuming that people like Bob Novak are good Catholics and people like Paul Begala aren’t is ignorance through and through.

As opposed as I am to the government regulating abortion, moral behavior is exactly the sphere of the Church. As equally opposed as I am to the government disadvantaging or persecuting gays, sexual relations are the essence, the very source of, religion.

I’m a person that most people would consider a liberal. It’s as about an accurate descriptor as the pope being catholic. Whereas I would not have invaded Iraq, if I was President on 9/11/2001, I may well have used nuclear weapons against Afghanistan. There are many other ways I don’t easily fit the stereotype.

That said, I find much to admire about the moral positions of the Church, and, theologically I agree with it much, I personally believe that that it is, along with the Orthodox Church, in fact the “true” Christian church; I agree with its apostolic authority, as opposed to the so-called Biblical authority of some Protestant churches; I absolutely reject the notion that grace alone saves you, a notion developped in a knee-jerk reaction to the sale of indulgences that implies a dangerous solipsism; I reject the idea that the church should schism because a megalomaniacal animal needs a divorce.

So, me and Begala, man. Me and Begala.