Is Liberalism a Sin?

Many people have no trouble at all understanding that liberalism is an unwise philosophy on which to base a system of governing or a way of life.  But is it actually a sin?

The word liberal comes from the Latin word “liber”, i.e., “free”.  Up to the end of the eighteenth century, this word commonly meant “worthy of a free man”.  Thus, “liberal arts”, “liberal occupations”, and “liberal education” were desirable and good. 

The term “liberal” was applied also to those qualities of intellect and character which were considered becoming to those who were on a higher social scale because of their wealth or education.  Thus, “liberal” meant intellectually independent or broadminded, magnanimous, generous, frank, or open.[1]

In the way of our ever-changing language, though, liberalism has also come to mean a political system opposed to centralization and absolutism.  In this sense, liberalism is not necessarily in opposition to the spirit and teaching of the Catholic Church.[2]

However, for the past two hundred years or so,  the term “liberal” has been applied increasingly to certain tendencies in intellectual, religious, political, and economic life which implied a partial or total emancipation of man from the supernatural, moral, and Divine order.[3]  It is at this point precisely that liberalism’s opposition to God becomes sinful.

Think of what those last two sentences are saying: emancipation of man from God’s laws – freeing man from the obligation of obeying God!

The underlying principle (of liberalism) asserts an absolute, unrestrained freedom of thought, of religion, conscience, creed, speech, and politics.

The necessary consequences of this are … the abolition of the Divine right and of EVERY KIND OF AUTHORITY DERIVED FROM GOD.[4]

Indeed!  All authority comes from God.[5]  So liberalism denies all of God’s true authority over us.

So, yes, Liberalism is a sin mainly because it opposes God and the Truth.  Here is how this is summed up in the masterful work, Liberalism is a Sin:

We may then say of Liberalism: in the order of ideas, it is absolute error; in the order of facts, it is absolute disorder.  It is, therefore, in both cases a very grievous and deadly sin, for sin is rebellion against God in thought or in deed, the enthronement of the creature in the place of the Creator.[6]

There are a host of other exceedingly-injurious repercussions from sliding into liberalism.  But if one didn’t know anything else about the scourge of liberalism, the information above should be more-than-enough to make it clear that it is totally incompatible with Catholicism. 

Yet, understanding this error in principle is one thing, but recognizing this error in particular circumstances is another thing, and many Catholics are fooled here.

For example, unfortunately, most Catholics have accepted the extremely liberal teachings of Vatican II (such as the false idea that “everyone goes to heaven”).  They’ve “gone along to get along”.  It might make them feel more comfortable in mistakenly believing that there is safety in numbers, saying such things as: “Many of my friends think this way” – supposing therefore, that such thinking is correct.

They do not realize, right then and there, that by doing so, they are being liberal, and thus are ignoring God’s laws and rights.  

People have in mind that going along with the group consensus sometimes makes life a little easier, and that they can avoid criticism, stress in their social life, problems at work or with their families or friends.  These people might tell themselves that it is not their job or their “place” to question liberal priests and the leaders in the Catholic Church (e.g., the Pope and cardinals).  Such people tell themselves that fighting liberalism is the leaders’ duty.  Further, it is certainly easier to accept liberalism than to fight it. 

Maybe such people are not so different from the many SSPX parishioners who see no need to look too closely at various proposals and changes that the Society makes to conform with Rome’s demands.  

It is so much easier to accept what is said from the SSPX pulpit, beginning with just a liberal point or two – for example, that the Catholic Church is much the same as the VC II Conciliar church.  Accepting this false position is the “first stop” on the road to developing into an unqualified liberal who progressively comes to accept small liberal points of doctrine that gradually bring him in line with the average Novus Ordo church-goer. 

If this is you, then regardless of what the SSPX leaders maintain, you, too, are a liberal! 

Yet, if by God’s grace you suddenly have this epiphany (i.e., discovering your liberalism) and realize you have allowed yourself to be lulled by the comfort of frequent SSPX Masses and regular access to the Sacraments, you need to change now and find your way back to the traditional Catholic Faith. 

It will not become easier for you to do this by delaying.  Every month makes it harder.  God expects much effort and prayers from His friends, to fight evil and to earn salvation.  If you have confidence in God’s love, He will give you the help you need.

[1]           1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, The Catholic Encyclopedia Press, 1913, p. 212, col. 1.  

[2]           1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, The Catholic Encyclopedia Press, 1913, p. 212, col. 1.  

[3]           1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, The Catholic Encyclopedia Press, 1913, p. 212, col. 2.  

[4]           1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, The Catholic Encyclopedia Press, 1913, p. 212, col. 2 (emphasis added).

[5]           Here is how St. Paul teaches this truth:


[T]here is no power but from God:  and those [powers] that are, are ordained of God.  Therefore, he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.  And they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation.  …  For [the ruler] is God’s minister.  …  Wherefore, be subject of necessity, not only for [the ruler’s] wrath, but also for conscience’s sake. 


Romans, ch.13, vv. 1-2 & 4-5 (bracketed words added).[17]


Pope Pius IX faithfully echoed St. Paul:


[A]ll authority comes from God. Whoever resists authority resists the ordering made by God Himself, consequently achieving his own condemnation; disobeying authority is always sinful except when an order is given which is opposed to the laws of God and the Church.


Qui Pluribus, November 9, 1846, §22.


[6]               Liberalism is a Sin, by Fr. Felix Sarda y Salvany, 1886, ch.3.

The Evil of Comfortably Tolerating Heresy

The Apostolic Fathers Rebuke the Conduct of Bishop Williamson’s Followers

Bishop Williamson continually increases his “collection” of heresies he promotes, as shown regularly in Catholic Candle


Read Bishop Williamson’s own words on many issues on which he teaches heresy (cited to his own sources) on our website.

and elsewhere. For example, Bishop Williamson promotes the heresies that:

Maybe Bishop Williamson’s followers disagree with his heresies. But they maintain a cowardly


Catholics must judge words and deeds objectively. But we must never judge a person’s interior, subjective culpability for sins, because that would be the sin of rash judgment. Read the explanation found here: Against sedevacantism

A person might have the superficial opinion that it is a sin of rash judgment for us to call “cowardly” the silence of Bishop Williamson’s followers. However, that opinion would be wrong.

The word, “cowardly” means:

being, resembling, or befitting a coward, e.g., a cowardly retreat. (emphasis added).

Thus, “cowardly” is a fair description of the silence of Bishop Williamson’s followers, when he teaches heresy and scandal, because their silence resembles and befits a coward (since they fail in their objective duty to stand up for the true Catholic Faith). But we don’t judge their internal, subjective culpability for these objective mortal sins of silent betrayal of the Catholic Faith.

silence and cordial relations with him. This is un-Catholic!

The Rule of St. Paul

Faithful Catholics must avoid teachers of heresy. Here is what St. Paul commands us to do:

Now I beseech you, brethren, to mark them who make dissensions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such, serve not Christ our Lord, but their own belly; and by pleasing speeches and good words, seduce the hearts of the innocent.


Romans, 16:17-18 (emphasis added).

Faithful Catholics boldly and openly oppose teachers of heresy. Here is how St. Irenaeus summarizes the Catholic attitude:

Such caution did the apostles and their disciples exercise that they might not even converse with any of those who perverted the truth; as [St.] Paul also said, “A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject; knowing he that is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:10-11).


St. Irenaeus teaches this in his book Against Heresies, Book III, quoted in Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, Penguin Classics, p.116-117.


The Example of St. John the Evangelist

Here is how St. John treated teachers of heresy:

[St.] John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe in Ephesus and seeing [the heretic] Cerinthus within, ran out of the bathhouse without bathing, crying, “Let us flee, lest even the bathhouse fall, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.”


St. Irenaeus gives this account in his book Against Heresies, Book III, quoted in Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, Penguin Classics, p.116-117.


Bishop Williamson’s followers do the opposite! They lavishly praise him and comfortably tolerate his heresies.

Bishop Williamson’s followers banquet with him. They laugh when he scoffs at St. John Chrysostom’s warnings about hell.


Read Bishop Williamson’s own words, cited to his own sources, here: Bishop Williamson Scoffs at St. John Chrysostom’s Frightening Warning about Going to Hell

See, e.g., this frame from a video of Bishop Zendejas’s consecration banquet, showing Bishops Faure and Zendejas smiling while Bishop Williamson mocks St. John Chrysostom. Id.

Where are the soldiers of Christ among Bishop Williamson’s followers? Did even one of them imitate St. John the Evangelist, crying out when he saw Bishop Williamson in the banquet hall:

Let us flee this banquet hall (the “bath house”) lest it fall, because Williamson the enemy of the truth, is within!

The Example of St. Polycarp

Here is how St. Polycarp treated teachers of heresy:

[St.] Polycarp himself, when [the heretic] Marcion once met him and said, “Knowest thou us?”, replied, “I know the first born of Satan.”


St. Irenaeus gives this account in his book Against Heresies, Book III, quoted in Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, Penguin Classics, p.116-117.


How many of Bishop Williamson’s followers rebuked him as St. Polycarp rebuked other teachers of heresy? Did even one follower call this heresy-spewing bishop a “first born of Satan”?

The Fake Resistance’s Pattern of Lacking Zeal for the Faith

The Fake Resistance lacks zeal for the true Faith. Bishop Williamson tells his followers not be “too concerned” to convert souls to the Catholic Faith.


Read Bishop Williamson’s own words, cited to his own sources, here: Faithful Catholics Have a Missionary Spirit; Bishop Williamson Tries to Destroy this Spirit.

His followers respond by not being “too concerned” to bring their own leader to the truth.


Let us pray for Bishop Williamson’s weak followers, that they begin to faithfully and boldly stand up for the Truth, without human respect for Bishop Williamson!

Human respect will not help Bishop Williamson. Praying for him and boldly opposing his errors, will help him convert.