The reader is, first of all, reminded that the Reformation set out as a “rigoristic” reaction against late medieval laxity and liberalism, as well as against the Renaissance and Humanism. St. Clement Maria Hofbauer declared about the Reformation: “The revolt from the Church began because the German people could not and cannot but be devout.” To this Catholic saint the deeply religious, non-libertarian character of the Reformation was obvious.

But because of its inherent dialectics, Protestantism came in subsequent centuries to occupy a stand diametrically opposed to its original position. Hence almost all Protestant criticisms levelled against Catholicism are today just the reverse of those directed against the Church four hundred years ago. No modern, liberal Protestant would accuse the Catholics of placing the accent on man rather than on God, of being swayed by the fads of their age, of being too broad-minded, easy-going and carnal. Such strictures might be passed upon them by fundamentalists or backwoods preachers, but not by the “enlightened” man in the street, who is impressed by the existence of a Legion of Decency, the efforts by Catholics to enact anti-birth-control legislation, and their rejection of divorce and euthanasia. Catholic dogma, except for an “increase in volume,” has remained unchanged, and commentary on it has varied only within certain limits. Protestantism, on the other hand, is in a constant process of evolution. Whereas the faith of Catholics can be exposed to the process of diminuation de lafoi (“diminution of the faith”), that of the Protestant is also subject to the rétrêcissement de lafoi (“narrowing of the faith”), the gradual abolishment of the very articles of faith.

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Liberty or Equality: The Challenge of Our Time (1940)


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