These debates rage in the Catholic Church (in America) as much as they do everywhere else in the country/world. Specifically in Catholicism there’s the liberal “social justice” Catholic and the conservative “doctrinal” Catholic, fighting for control of the Church. According to this binary, label-making way of thinking, Pope Francis takes the side of the first, and Pope Benedict XVI takes the side of the second.
I think a lot of Americans subconsciously picture the liberal/conservative debate like World War II, and of course whatever side we pick is the Allies, the winning team, the right side of history, and the opposition is the fascist Nazi Axis that tried to conquer the world but is now collapsing in on itself.
Their trick is they disguise themselves as being all good by using parts of the Truth but not the whole of it. Using only parts of the Truth leads to dysfunction, decay, and suffering, but it seems good enough to bite the worm on the hook. Even Hitler made people happy by giving them some good things: for example, the Autobahn, which is the reason America has its highway system, because it’s actually a good idea. We can’t allow ourselves to be deceived by the disguise of ideologies, though. They’re the slavery of the “free” world.
If nothing we build using these ideologies will last forever, what will? Well, let’s look to something that has stood firm for 2,000 years, has seen the rise and fall of nearly every kind of power and principality, and has only grown when the powerful try to wipe it out. It’s the Catholic Church!
Here’s the shocking thing, though, because the Roman and Greek philosophers believed in that same God, the God who is being itself, or at least the concept of it. The Christians believed that true God above all the myths to be personal, close at hand, loving, even… becoming a human himself, dying a real death on the Roman Empire’s most effective death device of state-sponsored terrorism ever, and rising from the dead gloriously three days later. The Christians believed in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living, true God. He is true substance. Whatever is built on Him will last for eternity. Worshiping Him is uniting oneself to eternity, to freedom from the nothingness of ideologies. The Catholic Church has professed this faith in Jesus Christ for 2,000 years, since Peter said of Jesus, “you are the messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Fast-forward to 2014 to Pope Francis, the successor of St. Peter in an unbroken line of successors to St. Peter. He professes that same faith. He does not take political sides; he sees right through the ideologies of the liberal “social justice” Catholic and the conservative “doctrinal” Catholic. He doesn’t participate in that outward show that comes to nothing. In fact, he even condemns those ideologies outright. “When a Christian becomes a disciple of ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought.” –Pope Francis, in a homily given on October 7, 2013.
In reality, liberal and conservative don’t exist in Catholicism. The question is about the true God. Are we living in the Truth? Do we know the One who is forever? Have we completely allowed His Son, Jesus Christ, into our lives? And do you know who’s been saying the same thing as Pope Francis? Pope Benedict XVI. You can read it in his Introduction to Christianity, Chapter III, sections 1 and 2.