Liberalism is to-day the dominating idea; it reigns everywhere and especially in the sphere of public life. It is therefore a sure recommendation to public favor.
On starting out in life the young man looks around upon the various paths that lead to fortune, to fame, to glory, and sees that an almost indispensable condition of reaching the desired goal is, at least in our times, to become Liberal. Not to be Liberal is to place in his way, at the outset, what appears to be an insurmountable obstacle. He must be heroic to resist the tempter, who shows him, as he did Jesus Christ in the desert, a splendid future, saying: Haec omnia tibi dabo si cadens adoraveris me: “All this will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me.” Heroes are rare, and it is natural that most young men beginning their career should affiliate with Liberalism. It promises them the assistance of a powerful press, the recommendation of powerful protectors, the potent influence of secret societies, the patronage of distinguished men. The poor Ultramontane requires a thousand times more merit to make himself known and to acquire a name; and youth is ordinarily little scrupulous. Liberalism, moreover, is essentially favorable to that public life, which this age so ardently pursues. It holds out as tempting baits public offices, commissions, fat positions, etc., which constitute the organism of the official machine. It seems an absolute condition for political preferment. To meet an ambitious young man who despises and detests the perfidious corrupter is a marvel of God s grace.
[…] To get along in the world, to succeed in business is always a standing temptation of Liberalism. It meets the young man at every turn. Around him in a thousand ways does he feel the secret or open hostility of the enemies of his faith. In mercantile life or in the professions he is passed by, overlooked, ignored. Let him relax a little in his faith, join a forbidden secret society, and lo! the bolts and bars are drawn; he possesses the open sesame to success. Then the invidious discrimination against him melts in the fraternal embrace of the enemy, who rewards his perfidy by advancing him in a thousand ways. Such a temptation is difficult for the ambitious to withstand. Be Liberal, admit that there is no great difference between men’s creeds, that at bottom they are really the same after all. Proclaim your breadth of mind by admitting that other religious beliefs are just as good for other people as your faith is for you; they are, as far as they know, just as right as you are; it is largely a question of education and temperament what a man believes, and how quickly you are patted on the back as a “broad-gauged” man, who has escaped the narrow limitations of his creed. You will be extensively patronized, for Liberalism is very generous to a convert. Falling down adore me and I will give you all these things, says Satan still to Jesus Christ in the desert.
(Félix Sardá y Salvany, What is Liberalism? St. Louis: B. Herder, 1899, pp. 135–137).