I have used the term modernist several times in my homilies and private discussions. The question comes, “What is a modernist?”
This is actually easy to describe. Think of it this way-
To be a Catholic one must believe the Catholic Faith as it has been taught in her Tradition. To the extent that one does not believe one or more of the truths of the Faith, one is not Catholic.
We speak of “Cafeteria Catholics,” as people who pick and choose what they will believe. There is a smorgasbord of faith in front of them and they dabble a little here or there, taking only what they like and what they do not like they leave behind. This is different than being a genuine Catholic who jump into the smorgasbord eating and devouring everything in a gluttonous manner.
A modernist is like a Cafeteria Catholic in that they pick and choose over the smorgasbord. But they do something more. They look at the smorgasbord and take what they like, leave what they do not like and then ask why there are no peas on the smorgasbord. Not satisfied, they say that is fine, I brought my own peas.
In other wards they believe what they want and call it Catholic when it is not. They look at the faith and say they will take that whole love, tolerance and forgiveness thing, and then they add contraception, abortion and homosexuality and they say they are Catholic.
They are not Catholic.