Religion: The New Counter-Reformation

In the eight years since the end of the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic left has commanded much of the public's attention. Escalating protest has often led to the slamming of doors—priests leaving their ministry, nuns leaving their orders, theologians like Britain's Charles Davis dropping out of the church entirely.

To a newly vocal conservative element in the U.S. Catholic Church, however, all too many liberals have not only remained in the church but moved quietly into control of the chanceries, the seminaries and parochial schools. Moreover, conservatives complain, some bishops are...