"Compassion" is defined in the dictionary as:

"sorrow for the sufferings or troubles of another or others, accompanied by the urge to help; deep sympathy; pity."

"Liberal Catholics" are easily identified as those Catholics seeking to water down the "hard truths of the Gospel of Christ", ignore the relevance of Catholic doctrine to contemporary challenges to Christianity, and even seek to revise or change Catholic doctrines in order to achieve acceptance and respectability by the liberal political and social establishment dominating American society and culture. It is a slippery slope down which many liberal Catholics have slid to become dissenters from Catholic faith and morals.

Sympathetic to or represented by such groups as "Call to Action", liberal-leftist Catholics (priests, religious, and laity) march to the drum-beat of the "National Catholic Reporter" and take their cues from dissenter theologians, journalists, and writers such as Richard P. McBrien, Richard McCormick, Charles E. Curran, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sr. Joan Chittester, Michael Crosby, Philip Kaufmann, Robert McClory, Robert Nugent, Jeanine Grammick, Monika Hellwig, ect., ect. There has developed an impressive network of organizations engaged in a rebellion against Catholic doctrine and discipline that began with the rejection of "Humanae Vitae" in 1968 (see "Trojan Horses: Catholic Dissidents Network" CRISIS [magazine] February, 1997).

The rebellion, of course, continues as is evident in the continued agitation (subtle or blatant) found in many dioceses for the acceptance of contraception, abortion, homosexuality, women's ordination, "inclusive language" in Scriptures and liturgical texts, intercommunion with Protestants, remarriage after divorce, and allowing the invalidly married to receive the Holy Eucharist. As a theologian noted in L'Osservatore Romano (Nov. 19th, 1997):

"Certain dissenting groups exist in the Church and a lack of harmony by certain theologians with the Church's Magisterium, primarily regarding certain topics of dogma, morality, the mission of the Church, and that of Christians vis-a-vis socio-economic and political realities. These dissenters who seem to be organized, are creating a great confusion among the People of God."

That was stated in 1997. The confusion still exists as anyone can read in the secular press, which diligently covers the disorders in the Catholic Church.

What is interesting to this observer is the note of "compassion" which oozes from the mouths and writings of dissenters from Christ's teachings. It is an amazing phenomenon, but not unexpected from the devotees of the "Therapeutic Welfare State" whose moral permissiveness has always been couched in the rhetoric of "love" and "compassion" and "caring and sharing" for the needy individual.

Liberal Catholics (like their liberal Protestant counterparts):

  • are seen to ooze with compassion for the activities of Planned Parenthood and classroom sex educators in our schools;
  • rarely support legislative efforts to restrict a "woman's right to choose" (and thus stop the "unspeakable crime of abortion")(Vatican II);
  • declare their support for as many women as they can fit in the sanctuary, for women "pastoral associates", altar girls, and future priestesses to serve at the altar of God;
  • see no reason why Protestants, active homosexuals, and those in invalid marriages should not receive Holy Communion at Catholic Masses.
  • They also ooze an "anti-Roman complex" in continually criticizing an "authoritarian" Pope who does not appreciate their "democratic American experience".

Compassion for contraceptionists, abortionists, sodomites, sex educators who corrupt the morals of children in our schools, dissenting theologians disciplined by the Vatican, liturgical crazies, radical feminist propagandists, and politicians engaged in "voting in" a thoroughly de-Christianized society – marks the "luv ethics" of those who call themselves Catholics, but place themselves in danger of losing the Faith "which comes to us from the Apostles". The danger is accelerated, of course, when the pulpits of pastors and priests (with honorable exceptions) remain silent on "controversial issues" considered "divisive of community". No matter that the Magisterium of the Church has made clear what the teachings are that Catholics must uphold!

An advertisement entitled "Catholics: Can't We Just Get Along? (Sob)" and which appeared in some Catholic magazines had it right: Jesus said "Unless you repent you will... perish." (Luke 13:1-5)

A cleric who won't call his people to repentance may be leaving them bound by their sins and bound for perdition. This isn't compassion, it's neglect, which, sadly, is widespread in the Church today.

In 1987 I was enabled to travel with the Press Corps on Air-Force 2 and heard Pope John Paul II speak to bishops and priests precisely on "compassion," but he did it in the context of the Church as "Teacher of Truth." He stated:

Sometimes, what is asked of you in the name of compassion may not be in accord with the full truth of God, whose eternal law of love can never contradict the fact that He is always "rich in mercy" (Eph. 2:4). True mercy takes into account God's plan for humanity, and this plan – marked by the Sign of the Cross – was revealed by a merciful High Priest, who is able to sympathize with our weakness, one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet never sinned (Heb. 4:15).
If, on the other hand, what is claimed to be a gesture of mercy goes contrary to the demands of God's word, it can never be truly compassionate or beneficial to our brothers and sisters in need. Jesus, who was Himself the perfect expression of the Father's mercy, was also conscious of being a "sign of contradiction" (Luke 2:34). The Apostle John tells us that at a certain point in the Lord's ministry, "many of His disciples broke away and would not remain in His company any longer" (John 6:66)

It is perfectly true: Catholics must be "signs of contradiction" in a society stigmatized by the Pope himself as a "Culture of Death" and one where "compassion" has been so distorted as to foment rebellion against the Magisterium and even apostasy from Christ.

About James Likoudis
James Likoudis is an expert in Catholic apologetics. He is the author of several books dealing with Catholic-Eastern Orthodox relations, including his most recent "The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and Modern Eastern Orthodoxy: Letters to a Greek Orthodox on the Unity of the Church." He has written many articles published by various religious papers and magazines.
He can be reached at:, or visit  Mr. James Likoudis' Homepage