The word "Liberal" is used in politics, but is it also a theological word?

May 26, 2017

Regarding the term "liberal", it is used by many people on Catholic radio (no need to mention names) because it’s a valid description of a segment of societies morality and religious practice.

I was told a long time ago by Tom Price that I should not use the word 'liberal'. I told Tom that it was a theological word. I showed him the information below and he said, “you got a valid point, I didn’t know. You can use it but don't abuse it.”


People on EWTN use the word 'liberal' like Dr Timothy O'Donnel - "So we should not be fearful of the world or of secularization or of the modern liberal theologians, for in this great work of restoration which we are undertaking, He Himself has assured us, "Fear not, for I have overcome the world" Mother Angelica used the word ‘liberal’ to often to count on her daily show.

The most explicit and detailed condemnation, however, was administered to modern Liberalism by Pius IX in the Encyclical "Quanta cura" of 8 December, 1864 and the attached Syllabus.

Pius X condemned it (liberalism) again in his allocution of 17 April, 1907, and in the Decree of the Congregation of the Inquisition of 3 July, 1907, in which the principal errors of Modernism were rejected and censured in sixty-five propositions.

The older and principally political form of false Liberal Catholicism had been condemned by the Encyclical of Gregory XVI, "Mirari Vos", of 15 August, 1832 and by many briefs of Pius IX (see Ségur, "Hommage aux Catholiques Libéraux", Paris, 1875).

The definition of the papal infallibility by the Vatican council was virtually a condemnation of Liberalism.

Many recent decisions concern the principal errors of Liberalism are found in the allocutions and encyclicals of Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Pius X. (Cf., Recueil des allocutions consistorales encycliques . . . citées dans le Syllabus", Paris, 1865) and the encyclicals of Leo XIII of 20 January, 1888, "On Human Liberty"; of 21 April, 1878, "On the Evils of Modern Society"; of 28 December, 1878, "On the Sects of the Socialists, Communists, and Nihilists"; of 4 August, 1879, "On Christian Philosophy"; of 10 February, 1880, "On Matrimony"; of 29 July, 1881, "On the Origin of Civil Power"; of 20 April, 1884, "On Freemasonry"; of 1 November, 1885, "On the Christian State"; of 25 December, 1888, "On the Christian Life"; of 10 January, 1890, "On the Chief Duties of a Christian Citizen"; of 15 May, 1891, "On the Social Question"; of 20 January, 1894, "On the Importance of Unity in Faith and Union with the Church for the Preservation of the Moral Foundations of the State"; of 19 March, 1902, "On the Persecution of the Church all over the World" (all this data can be read from the Catholic encyclopedia –, under liberalism).

Leo Xlll's peerless Encyclical (1891), On the Condition of Workers spoke out against ‘liberalism.’ Leo Xlll, so noble and lofty and so utterly new to worldly ears, was held suspect by some, even among Catholics, and to certain ones it even gave offense. For He boldly attacked and overturned the idols of Liberalism


Pope Pius XI spoke out against liberalism in ‘Quadragesimo Anno’ (On Reconstruction of the Social Order – 1931).  

The word “liberal” is a theological term found in the Catholic encyclopedia ( and that philosophy has Papal condemnation. The word “liberal” is a synonym for the word "progressive." The word “progressive” is found in the New American Catholic Bible in 2 John 9[i] and this philosophy is condemned by Almighty God. Hence the word “liberal” and “progressive” are used in Catholic theology and Sacred Scripture.

Based on the evidence, I believe the word 'liberal' can and should be used on Catholic radio as a synonym for 'modernist' or 'progressives.'

[i] 2 John 9 “Anyone who is so ‘progressive’ as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.”