Few readers will be unfamiliar with Lord Acton’s dictum about the effects of power. But, before looking at some more modern evidence, we should note that he is primarily writing of power conferred by office. Let’s put him into context to get a clearer picture.
After arguing that the absolute power of the papacy was the real cause of the breach with Luther, and arguing that popes of the 13th and 14th centuries were individually and collectively responsible for the policy of persecution, Acton continues: “I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”
But popes are weighty men dealing with weighty matters. We can come a little closer to home.
In our time we have seen numerous examples of the dehumanisation of power. Jews and unborn babies come immediately to mind. Cynics might argue that the treatment of Palestinians is dehumanisation coming a full circle. I couldn’t possibly comment.
A number of studies have been done to measure this. Although they are necessarily somewhat artificial, they work by giving certain people a sense of power and then comparing their decisions with others who have not undergone this. They all show that the “powerful” people have a general tendency to treat the people who come into their scope as inferior, and they are inclined to make harsher and more cruel decisions about them than the control groups who have no particular sense of power.
Of course this would not include us: our religious attitudes teach us to be merciful even to those we see as wrongdoers. Sorry, the evidence says, no. We are likely to be more judgmental than those who do not have religion in mind. This might be, the scientists suggest, because religious people have a clearer view of the norms of right and wrong or perhaps because we are drawn to condemn what we believe that God condemns.
If we put power into the question, it emerges that corrupt politicians and chief executives who do not practise what they preach are just what we should expect. The greater the power the greater is the propensity to combine condemnation of inferiors with bad personal and private behaviour. As well as the formal studies, we do not need to look far back in contemporary history to see the evidence for that. Only those who feel that they may be unworthy of the power they hold avoid this temptation. But the value of this humility may be counterbalanced by the greater tendency of the bosses who are uncertain of themselves to bully.
Nor are we surprised to discover that the powerful not only overestimate the accuracy of their judgment, they are also disinclined to pay proper attention to new ideas which threaten their assumptions.
Interesting, I think, in many contemporary contexts is how people see their own moral worth. Here we observe that frequently those who do egregiously good works may correct the balance by behaving badly in other areas – just as their bad behaviour motivates them to compensate by good works. One recent example is that of the late Fr Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, who turned out to have been an exceedingly corrupt cleric. Maciel was supported for several years by Pope John Paul – which may be an instance of a powerful person having too much invested in his own judgment.
Although by some standards the level of public corruption is low in our society, we have seen evidence of this in Parliament and others in civil authority. Interestingly, corrupt societies seem to do surprisingly well, provided that corruption is held within limits. This, it is suggested, comes about because, while we are subject to the force of law, the law enforcers – who get the benefits of corruption by way of money or ability to ignore the law themselves – are motivated to ensure that we keep the law even if they don’t. But, beyond a certain level of corruption it all breaks down, as I daresay the shades of Presidents Nicolae Ceausescu and Hosni Mubarak would tell us.
But the universality of the corruption of power reminds us that we are all vulnerable. And indeed any sense of moral righteousness about the behaviour of those whom we think ought to behave better is a warning klaxon of this unfortunate legacy of Original Sin.
This is one reason why I am suspicious of enthusiasts who claim to have the answers to the reformation of the Church. History teaches us that today’s liberals may be tomorrow’s enforcers. The best we can do is to stumble, with humility, in the direction of the light. This is the ecclesia semper reformanda. And Christ showed us what to expect when he picked Peter as his first vicar. He chose a man whom he was to call Satan and a stumbling block, a man who would deny him, and even misunderstand the universality of his message. Why would we expect the Church to be more perfect than Christ’s appointed representative? But, with Peter, where else would we go, given that that she alone has the words of eternal life?
Was Peter the right choice?
If the ultimate holder (and giver) of Power is God – Who as infinite Goodness as well as absolute power cannot be corrupt – power per se is not corrupt.
The problem then is not power but our common humanity, which all share, which from Adam onwards has condemned itself by exercising self-will over God’s will. We glimpse here the greatness and the mystery of the Incarnation; because God became man, with a will of His own. Jesus’ life task (as it should be ours) was seeking to (re)align His will back with the Father’s.
Moreover power is not per se an adult thing, nor an effect of holding office. An infant pushing its weaker sibling out of the way, a newborn in a litter pushing out the weakest or runt of the litter, has power. Children in school are notoriously prone to and victims of bullying. The promotion of self at the expense of others can occur at any age. Only when removed from the ability to influence others’ behaviour – the castaway on a desert island and the hermit – does one have no power.
What then is power – the exercise of one’s own (self) will to promote oneself, and/ or influence what another does, except from a position of dependency– (a seriously ill or disabled child or adult may ‘compel’ family members to care for them, which massively curtails their freedom, but this is a very different form of control).
This inherent human weakness (selfishness) is magnified the more people we exercise control over. Office amplifies by widening the number of people potentially affected – hence a priest has more power than a lay person exercising a particular ministry in the church, a bishop more than a priest, and so on. But perhaps ‘blame’ lies more in the grasping of power than being conferred with power (like Peter?) Indeed some office holders may not be the most powerful members of their organisation; their office may be being handed a poisoned chalice.
Rather than humility – judging that another’s judgement is better than one’s own – it seems to me that the opposite of power is self sacrifice, which even a high office holder can aspire to. Not only putting others first, but allowing them to make decisions (even wrong decisions) following their own will, at the expense of one’s own wellbeing and liberty. Perhaps what Jesus chose in Peter was the one most able to sacrifice himself, and the one most able to discern the Father’s will.
[P.S. As for the doer of good works correcting the balance by behaving badly in other areas, this I don’t understand. Would this not be an excuse for abuse?]
One wonders why natural justice does not prevail and the corrupt leaders continue to prosper. The answer to this lies in the fact that the ‘hangers on’ also have a vested interest in the despot surviving and therefore become his ( nearly always a ‘him’, ) instruments of ensuring such survival because their own prosperity and power rely on it.
Hence dictators continue to ‘dictate’ because they make sure they have those around them who will perpetuate and contribute to whatever is required to make sure the regime lives on.
Regretably the same can be said of the Church in some ways. For example was not the last Pope criticised for appointing so many cardinals that were supportive of his views. (Which he would believe were the right ones for the good of the Church , but far in excess, numerically, than were needed.) Indeed the present Pope was nick-named his ‘enforcer’ and has gone on to succeed him, still surrounded by the same college of cardinals.
Do not Bishops appoint Canons to help him govern a Diocese that he can rely on for support and not to be a challenge to him.
Parish priests have to appoint finace committees , would they ever appoint to such a committee a person who they knew would challenge their spending? I think not.
On a smaller scale we all do it to some degree. Men often marry women who they can control. Women often marry men for security before love.
I know nothing of Lord Acton but his title alone would suggest that he had persons in his employ who were paid to support him and therefore their loyalty came at a price.
Power has been variously described by others as an aphrodisiac, a corrupter of persons, and the efficient propeller of egomania. It raises quite important questions as to how a human being with considerable power, can remain grounded. For those affected by power, which probably includes every person who has been so privileged and everybody else, it must be extraordinarily difficult to accurately recall how you were constituted before you had gained power, and whether or not your recollection can place personal limits on yourself. It is probably as important for all democratically elected leaders to undergo a daily recollection of the day’s faults and errors, as it is for ethically inclined individuals to punctiliously administer the same sobering reminders, in reverence of the constant imperfection and incompleteness of life, and indeed all humans.
It is precisely for the many diversions that power can venture towards, that it needs the restraints of the checks and balances afforded by a free press, human rights, and the rule of law, bundled together within a rigorous and formal framework of democracy, accountability, and transparency. Even if these restraints had sobering limits on the powerful, by stymying the potential for corruption, it is simply stating the obvious that power is pernicious, inherently dangerous, and destabilising, in and of itself. There is probably no formal schooling for politicians, but all should be forewarned through their previous development and education, that even if power is attained democratically, it is inherently hazardous and dichotomous. Its dichotomy lies in its perennial capacity for both good and evil, or the attainment of shallowness or apposite reform.
Ecclesiastical power has no less a proclivity to degeneration as the attainment and use of secular power. It is precisely why power has such a deleterious effect on most people, that nobody should have an office that does not have to answer to anybody, and need not be subject to the scrutiny and review of an authorised and external body or process. Lord Acton’s magisterial canon applies to all examples of ecclesiastical or secular power, and awareness of it should be a necessary part of any person’s general education. It is a crisp reminder of the danger of power, even if it is attained through the franchise of electors.
Power must be exercised with a willingness to listen to and accept the fearless advice and guidance of independent experts, such as a properly constituted and impartial public service, that has the benefit of statutory protection. Our prayers must constantly cry out to God, that those privileged with our trust to employ power on our behalf, regardless of its context, will exercise their power with objectivity, impartiality, humility, skill, and wisdom.
The attainment of power, and all of its potential for goodness, misuse, and corruption, is a most opportune reminder of the difficulty of its just employment for worthy ends, by even the most balanced and scrupulous of persons. We have a human church, and from time to time the church is scandalised by the conduct of its members. Quentin’s excellent choice of topic and the issues he raises within it, should be required reading for anybody contemplating the attainment and exercise of power.
If power is both dangerous to have and necessary to use, the eventual epiphany of the unravelling of office holders, can equally be concomitant with useful and brilliant outcomes, as well as unmitigated disasters. Despite the inherent difficulty of using power humbly, responsibly, and punctiliously, by those to whom it is entrusted, it is an unavoidable fact that the attainment and use of power, is a principal conduit in how the church and the world effects change and progress.
Lord Acton (1834-1902) is chiefly remembered today for the passage which Quentin quoted in his article, but he was the most celebrated lay Catholic man of letters of the Victorian age. He was critical of the papal absolutism of Pio Nono and of the First Vatican Council, which put put him at odds with the ultramontanist faction but regarded communion with Rome as “dearer than life itself”.
I think it is possible to draw a distinction between power (potestas) and authority (auctoritas). The former really means a capability whereas the latter implies something more and sometimes, paradoxically, something less. Men listened to our Lord because “he spoke as one having authority”. The same authority now rests with the Pope and the college of bishops, as defined by the dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium of the Second Vatican Council. Popes have in the past misused their power, or failed to exercise their apostolic authority through cowardice or timidity, because like the rest of us they are human.
John Paul II has been described as autocratic, but he was a pussycat compared to the truly terrifying Paul IV (1555 -1559) who was an ardent reformer but whose style of government did the Church no favours. On the other hand there have been popes of exemplary humility who were disastrous because they were simply not up to the job. Benedict XVI is not by nature an autocrat – the image of the grim ‘enforcer’ at the Holy Office was always an absurd caricature – and Acton would surely have applauded his stand against relativism.
In the 18th century the Royal Navy selected and advanced its officers largely on the basis of patronage and influence. Nowadays this would be seen as a thoroughly corrupt system, but then it was seen as common sense. No-one would compromise his reputation by recommending a relative who would prove to be no good as a sea officer, and the service knew it was getting an officer recommended by one whose judgement they could rely on. In the event the Navy, the most complex organization in the world at the time of the Seven Years’ War, was highly efficient.
Acton’s observations on politics and religion are still relevant today, although few take the trouble to read them.
I wrote in my previous post that, ‘Power must be exercised with a willingness to listen to and accept the fearless advice and guidance of independent experts, such as a properly constituted and impartial public service, that has the benefit of statutory protection.’ Because of the inherent danger of power, I wonder if any advisors within the Catholic Church enjoy a similar degree of protection, from any of its masters, through the prudent use of an independent and protected Vatican public service, which can offer frank and fearless advice?
I suggest that it does not. The leaders of Vatican congregations would no doubt offer its competencies to the administration of their portfolio of affairs, as well as advice to His Holiness on particular issues germane to its expertise. Can such advice be independent, frank and fearless, when the security of its office holders is entirely at the command and whim of the Pope of the day? Can the same be said of the many members of the Vatican bureaucracy, which are spread across all Congregations? Can they offer frank and fearless advice on any issue germane to their expertise?
What about Vatican employed theologians, philosophers, historians, liturgists, and scriptural scholars? Can they offer frank and fearless advice to their masters, which can be of great consequence to the church, such as in theological, philosophical, or exegetical matters, through their work within any Congregation? I would suggest that as their approval for employment, was initially based on whether or not they had a similar conservative disposition in most if not all ecclesiastical matters as their masters, that they are probably incapable of frank and fearless advice. Their future employment and advancement prospects would be severely limited if they were tempted to do so.
Which leads me to buttress what I have been saying within SecondSight on several occasions; the Catholic Church is governed by Popes and leaders of Congregations that are selfish and childish autocrats, drunk on power. The cultured, learned, and elite education of the many leaders within the Vatican is not an excuse for poor forms of governance. The governance and competence of the Catholic Church, is the most serious of issues. However, it is with great personal regret as a Catholic, that I am of the unshakable opinion that its governance is one that can be accurately described as manifestly moribund. Everything that Lord Acton has written about power applies absolutely to both secular and ecclesiastical governance. Acton’s words on power are a tonic. They are a masterful and magisterial reminder of the folly of absolute power, and those who ignore them are doomed to ridicule by modern men and women.
One of Lord Acton’s magnificent sentences states, ‘ There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it’. Finer words on power have never been more exquisitely expressed as these by any observer. It is a pity that many fine churchmen cannot follow them.
“The office-holder ought to accept responsibility for the fact that he does not proclaim and produce things himself but is a conduit for the Other and therefore ought to step back himself … In this sense he should be in the very first place one who obeys, who does not say, ‘I would like to say this now’, but asks what Christ says and what our faith is and submits to that. And in the second place, he ought to be one who serves, who is available to the people and who, in following Christ, keeps himself ready to wash their feet.”
I ask John Candido: are these the words of “a selfish and childish autocrat, drunk on power?” Because if they are are you can add ‘Tartuffe’ to your list of epithets and have another excuse for depriving yourself of the sacraments.
Your quote is from Ratzinger’s work called, ‘Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium’, an Interview with Peter Seewald (Ignatius Press, 1997). This is Ratzinger offering an idealist presentation of power within the Catholic Church, by one of the Vatican’s most ardent power holders. Who are Ratzinger and you trying to fool? Lord Acton has given us his considerable wisdom on absolute power corrupting absolutely, and we have the view of 2,000 years of ecclesiastical history which can brilliantly illustrate everything that Lord Acton has said on power ad infinitum.
Quotes such as the one you have provided from Ratzinger, does not help your argument at all. At the end of the day we still have an autocrat at the helm of the Catholic Church. His autocracy has no checks and balances, and apart from the pope himself, neither do the heads of Vatican Congregations, whom we could describe as sub-potentates in their own right.
John, if you were to properly counter Lord Acton’s and my own argument that absolute power corrupts absolutely, demonstrate to me and others how the unchecked powers of the papacy and the delegated authority of the heads of Vatican Congregations cannot possibly corrupt its office holders. If you cannot do this, then in reality the church is left with a ‘hit and miss’ system of governance. That is, we all hope and pray that the men that occupy such lofty offices will be really good men at heart, and not be tempted towards an uncultured, uncosmopolitan, iron-willed ultra-conservatism. And you can also throw in corruption and egomania into the possible mix of dystopian outcomes.
JC, you can hardly expect me to defend a position I never held in the first place. Nor can I engage in civilized discussion with someone who gratuitously slanders the Vicar of Christ and seems to regard history as a convenient heap of brickbats to be hurled at an Aunt Sally of his own construction.
Interesting here, I think, that Machiavelli in The Prince does not seem to be much bothered by popes, because they don’t last long enough to make permanent headway. He advocates attention to secular rulers who are likely to be around for decades. Does the turnover of popes go some way towards checking their opportunities for corruption?
“And the shepherds will have no place to flee,nor the leaders of the flock to save themselves… a voice of the cry of the shepherds, howling of the principles of the flock.. the fields of peace have been silent… the land has been laid waste because of the wrath of the dove, the fierce anger of the dove”. (Jeremiah 25;34-38)
We have seen the demise of the Catholic Faith precisely because bandits have seized high places and, in Christ’s Holy Name impose the devil’s doctrines upon the Catholic people, most particularly youth. The years are many, the years are long since the appeal of catholic parents to their bishops about the catechisms that has been tobbing their children of their faith.We grow old and tired. Again and again we cry to our shepherds. The echo of our sad voices traces down the years. But the answer is always the same; silence.
“The domineering overbearance of those who teach the errors and the thoughtless compliances of the more shallow minds who assent to them create a corrupted atmosphere which penetrates everywhere and carries infection with it”,(Pius X Pascendi)
For years the religious education programs in schools as well as evangelisation courses,have been cryptic and sinister.
After years of mandatory brainwashing.” re-educating, “free-swinging “self-expression” and self-realisation” seminars and courses, they have become the perfect echoes of neo-modernism.
Catholic youth have for years been marinated in sensitivity training, values clarification, (sex-ed) the new name in chastity education). These have become the bleak ghouls that haunt the crumbling castle of catholic education. For years the cries of loyal catholics have been met with piestistical dismissals of “lack of charity”which of itself,probably ranks of one of the greatest violations of charity.
The Apostle warns us of the danger of preferring the creatures to the Creator.
What a strange character Charity would possess were it to tremble to speak the truth to men and not fear to utter lies regarding the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
Even amid the death rattles, the bishops are silent. They are masters of lethargy’
Why must we teach the bishops what we really think they should be teaching us?
Thus the darkness descends. The youth are gone;the nuns are gone, the priests are gone, the old are dying, the churches are closing,; the seminaries and convents are empty.
Is there a voice crying in the wilderness? The polls tells that 70% of the laity do not believe in the Real Presence. Does this alarm the bishops?
All praise and honour to the good bishops, priests, nuns,and religious who have kept the Faith and in quiet ways have secured it for others; to the army of simple souls with the invincible weapon of the Rosary.
But the power- brokers as well as their counterparts in England, Western Europe and Australia, tell a different story. The fort has been betrayed by those who should have died, if need be,defending it.So well put in Scripture; Brought ip in the scarlet, they have embraced the dung.
Still we live in hope, Keep the faith until the words of St Peter,”The long night is over and the morning star rises in your hearts.
(Part of a comment from ” The Wrath of the Dove by Therese Ickinger) 1994?
We are now in 2011, and thank God we have still Jesus’ words- to St Peter. I give to you the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven . The gates of hell shall not prevail against It
So all you Liberals- Beware!The Holy Father will continue to keep his ‘hench men’ as they are called, to protect Holy Mother Church from error. Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. In Gods Time!.
Should read ‘robbing’ their children of their faith.
Was St Peter the right choice? I read a book in 1996,which I still have on my shelf.
If I could have found it on the web I would have told you, but I couldn’t-so I am writing the revelant passages ,and apologise it is long, but will not write it all.
Written by Sir Stuart Coats, born in 1868, the son of a Scottish Baronet and an American Mother. Raised as an Evangelical, he was received into the Catholic Church in 1899 after much prayer and study. The authority that Our Lord gave to St Peter was the key to his conversion .A loyal son of the Church, he was a brilliant apologist and served three Popes as Chamberlain of Sword & Cape. He received several rewards from the Holy See for his distinguished service. In secular life he was a member of the British Parliament and headed a successful textile company until his death in 1959. What follows is a piece from his book “The first Christians were Catholics” on the Position of St Peter.”He Says”
It is a matter of constant surprise to Catholics that so few of their seperated brethren, however learned in the Scriptures, ever seem to undertake a serious examination of the position of St Peter, as shown so plainly in the New Testament, and the vital bearing that this has on the authoritative teaching and government of the Christian Church of today. In the first place it is significant that although St Peter was not the first called of the Apostles (that privilege belonging to another) he is mentioned first in all the lists of the Apostles given in the New Testament (St Matt x, 2 St Mark iii.16. St Luke vi; 14 and the Acts i. 13) In sharp contrast Judas Iscariot is always listed last.
St Peter has a new name conferred by Our Lord (St John i.42 ) Cephas which is by interpretation a stone which reminds one how God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. and gave as his reasons ” for father of all nation I have made thee”(Genesis
xvii.5). Our Lord’s calling James and John, sons of thunder is a descriptive title and not a name change in the same sense.
Peter is treated as Christ’s representative when tribute money is demanded,and Our Lord accepts this, and works the miracle,in which the tribute money for Himself and St Peter alone is found in the mouth of the fish. (St Matt xvii; 24-27)
Christ chooses St Peter’s boat from which to teach. And after the miraculous draught of fishes, Our Lord tells him “Fear not,from henceforth thou (singular) shalt catch men”. (St Luke v.1-10) Now consider the three ‘Petrine’ texts.
1. St Matt xvi 13-19. Here we note that Our Lord enquires of the disciples, first “Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man am?”. And after they had answered asks them directly, “Whom say ye that I am? At that Simon Peter, the Apostle everywhere mentioned as the first,at once acts for all the rest and confirms Our Lord’s Divinity, and is told by Christ that this has been revealed to him alone by ” My Father which is in Heaven” Immediately Our Lord proceeds to inform him that paramount authority which He will confer upon him (after St Peter’s subsequent fall and repentance) before His Ascension into Heaven. “And I say unto thee that thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. Here it is necessary to remark ( in order to anticipate age long misrepresentations) that Our Lord was using the commonly used Aramaic language (not Greek) and that this language has no genders,so that what He actually said was “Thou art Kipha (rock) and on this Kipha I will build my Church. Again this passage (“Thou art Peter etc;) at once recalls that in which Christ tells us in a parable about “the house built by a wise man and founded on a rock (“St Matt vii.24-25”) “And the rain descended and the floods came,and the winds blew and beat upon the house and it fell not; for it was founded on
a rock”.(also St Luke vi.48) Our Lord also signifies that the passage is the key to discerning between the true and false prophets. After thus promising to build His Church on Peter alone, comes the awe-inspiring words: “And I will give unto thee the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, and what so ever thou shall loose on earth,shall be loosed in Heaven. We read in the prophet Isaiah xxvi;22 that the Messiah will come thus: “The Key of David I will lay upon his shoulder,so He shall open and He shall shut;and He shall shut and none shall open” So that it is clear that powers Properly belonging to Himself alone,as the Messiah, He was imparting alone to St Peter.
2. Now the second great Petrine text as given in (St Luke xxii;31.32) in the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples at the Last Supper,before He went to His Passion.
“And the Lord said “Simon,Simon,behold, Satan hath desired to have you,that he may sift you as wheat;but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted,strengten thy brethren”. But does the Lord pray for the twelve that they may be delivered from this imminent danger? Not at all. He will deliver them in His own way. The obligation of keeping the twelve out of the clutches of Satan and of confirming them in all time in the faith, is given alone to the head.
There is a lot more interesting facts written by Sir Stuart Coats-but it is too long , so I will just finish with a piece he writes at the end of the Position of St Peter-a piece from St Augustine writing to a Manichaean heretic, he says ” I am held in the Catholic Church by the consent of nations and of races; by authority , begun in miracles,nurtured in hope,attaining its growth in charity,established in antiquity.
I am held by the very name of Catholic,which not, without cause amid so many heresies,this church alone has retained,in such sort that,whereas all heretics wish to be called Catholics, neverthless to any stranger who asked, “Where is the meeting of the Catholic Church held? no heretic would dare to point out his own basilica or house.
“The order of truth remains; blessed Peter,keeping the strength of the rock,does not abandon the helm of the Church. Whatever we do rightly…is his work, whose power lives in his See.
“In the person of my lowliness he is seen,he is honoured,in whom remains the care of all pastors.and all the sheep of their charge. His power does not fail,even in an unworthy heir”
I am not as pessimistic about today’s youth as you are, and nor is the Holy Father. I think about the young people in England and Scotland who enthusiastically welcomed the Pope in September, the crowds who attend the World Youth Days, and the new generation of orthodox young priests leaving the seminaries (yes, we pray for many more of them) who are not afraid to question the liberal dogmas of their teachers.
As for the liberal-relativists still inside the Church, they’ve had their day and they know it . You can’t argue with them because their minds are closed. Aures habent et non audient. They will leave of their own accord and then blame the Church for rejecting them.
Thank you John for your comment.That was written in 1994, when we were ‘really’ battling with the modernists-at least I was. I am not too pessimistic, now, but am aware that we need to keep watch!
We have some good young Holy Priests now, and with Gods help and proper Religious Instructions in the Schools- more will answer Gods call to a Vocation to the Priesthood.
But we do need the co-operation of the bishops, to support the Holy Father in his teachings.We have the sex ed coming up soon and SPUC need all the help they can get to support them in the work that they are doing at the present time,to combat it.
John, you state that, ‘JC, you can hardly expect me to defend a position I never held in the first place’. Well John, what is your position? Do you support the current arrangements or not? You either do support the contemporary governance of the Catholic Church, or you do not. You can’t have it both ways. Maybe you would rather not say what you believe in regarding ecclesiastical governance? It could be a case of cognitive dissonance, that is you support one issue quite clearly and adamantly, being Acton’s position on power, but you cannot for a variety of personal and religious reasons bring yourself to apply them to our church today. I would suggest most respectfully, that this issue is something that you could ponder and reflect on in your spare time, and to see where your thought process might lead you towards.
Let us not forget the unfortunate victims of current ecclesial arrangements, vis-à-vis paedophilia, the cover-up of criminal acts by religious and clergy by the hierarchy, clericalism, the catastrophic loss of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the drop in attendance across the board at masses. Then there is the alienation of the youth towards our church, the lack of human rights for all believers regarding our freedom of religion, enforced celibacy, the exclusion of women from the priesthood, the lack of a child care policy for the entire church, the lack of consultation towards many members of the church and clergy on issues such as liturgy, the appointment of bishops, the profound disrespect that the church endures within the secular world, and the trivialisation and the minimisation of the teaching about the primacy of the human conscience. To forget what has occurred in our recent and past history, is to repeat the same errors going forward.
You have stated in one of your posts that, ‘Acton’s observations on politics and religion are still relevant today, although few take the trouble to read them.’ While you have clearly demonstrated your support for Lord Acton’s canons, regarding the inherent tendency of power to corrupt, you seem to shy away from the logical application of these same principles regarding the inherent capacity for corruptibility within our church’s governing arrangements. Please explain?
Apart from these points, you have not made a rebuttal concerning my point about the contrast between the modern public services’ capacity to offer frank and fearless advice, which is buttressed by legislative protection of their employment. To the desperately poor position of the employees of the Vatican, such as general public servants, and more technical advisors such as theologians, exegetes, and philosophers. All of these employees of the Vatican hold their positions at the patronage and whim of their masters, i.e. the pope and the heads of Vatican congregations. Are you capable of supplying rebutting arguments against these points as well John? I am all ears.
I have always remembered one exchange in Rumble & Carty’s Radio Replies .
Someone expressed the opinion that there had only ever been one Christian, and he was crucified. R & C replied “If you believe that, then it is your duty to become the second one.”
I wonder whether the corruption in Christ’s true Church is allowed as a test of our faith, and a call to exhibit its true qualities in our own lives.
The problem Quentin I have with the so called corruption in the Church, ‘is not the teachings of the Church’, just sinners like us all.I would be happy if someone would make it clear to me what it is! Other than that! We all have a little ‘corruption’ in us.
At Mass this morning-all I could see was happy people pleased to be there Worshiping God on the Sabbath.
Just because there are those who dislike what the Church teaches, and like to call it
corrupt. The readings and Gospel today for all those who missed it,( Leviticus 19;1-2. 17-18) (1. Cor.3 16-23) (Matt 5:38-48) is a very good examination of conscience.
st. Joseph, the corruption we are considering is the corruption of power rather than of doctrine. Lord Acton provided historical evidence of this. Today he might have quoted the extensive cover-up of priestly paedophilia or, say, failure to enter into a real dialogue with all elements in the Church.
It has been argued by some that the fundamental structure of the Church is corrupt. I do not believe that. But I believe that corruption of power is always a temptation against which we must be on our guard. And we will never entirely eradicate it.
We must always work for the Church to become more and more as Jesus wished it to be. Our primary task is to do that through increasing our personal virtue. if we have any time over (!) we must do what we can to help the Church to become more perfect.
John.A lot of insignificant words. Just not good enough!
One needs to be more specific than that, to prove your point.,before finding the Church guilty!
This reply is made in the incorrect place It will be found below.
23rd Feb. My apology.
Quentin, I am defending the Churches Doctrine, as I know how.
If we are considering the corruption instead of power,with respect, please remind John Candido that is what we are supposed to be discussing.
I will not stop defending the teaching of the Church- against ill fitting remarks from him, In fact I find his comments offensive!
I would like to make it clear what I mean.
John Candido makes it obvious that he is discussing his contempt of the power of the Keys of Peter ,and the authority given to him, by Our Lord Jesus Christ,on teachings which he doesn’t agree with, or suits him.
I gave my thoughts on the lack of vocations to the priesthood and religious, lack of catholic instruction in the schools, sexual education to young people in our catholic schools etc; etc; etc;
John Candido has the audacity to say in his comment that this is due to corruotion ‘power’, (Feb 20th ) how ridiculous he is, this is due to not listening to the teachings of the church.
When the bishops don’t follow the Holy Fathers messages-that is not ‘power,’ that is the exact opposite, not using their ‘power ‘as they ought.That is neglect.
He is so confused he really doesn’t know what he is speaking about.
His neglect,or should I call it his own free will ,to ignore his presence in the community of the catholic church-which he calls ‘his,’ or ‘our ‘he might if he made his presence there,find the Truth, by lisening to good homolies by good holy priests,which unfortunately he knows nothing about. Then maybe he can speak with a little authority, instead of reading heretical opinions from others.
I rest my case.
I would like to clarify for all readers the comments that I made regarding power and corruption within the church. In doing so, I would like to place them within the context of Quentin’s opening remarks and my previous post, before the comments in question were made.
Firstly, I did not name any individual, and I most certainly did not name Pope Benedict XVI, as being the direct and specific subject of my comments. I also did not mean to have implied that he or any specific individual that works in the Vatican is selfish, childish, or drunk on power. Secondly, my comment was meant to be of a general nature relating to the corruptibility of power, and it was not directed against any individual. Thirdly, as the comments did not specifically relate to any individual, my comments were not meant to be personal.
The comment in question and my entire posts need to be taken in the context of Quentin’s introductory remarks about the corruptibility of power. This is the key to understanding them. I totally accept the words of Lord Acton on power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely. I also generally believe in whatever psychology experiments of a rigorous nature, do to help verify and explain the inherent corruptibility of power as it applies to most human beings. However, both of these knowledgeable sources cannot apply absolutely, to every person, in every context, and at all times. Humans are an extremely diverse species.
There are many examples of leaders, both within the church and outside of it, who had considerable power but managed to control their baser instincts. Some that come to mind are Sir Winston Churchill, President Abraham Lincoln, Pope John XXIII, and Mr. Nelson Mandela. My comment could have been toned down and better expanded for the benefit of others. It was far too condensed and abbreviated, appears to have too much licence, and it has led to me being misunderstood. It would have been more aptly expressive of my intended meaning, if I had taken more time and care by its review.
Others have run with these misunderstandings and go on to make quite unfair and sweeping statements against me. As my comment was intended to be of a general nature, not specifically applied to any single individual, and with the qualification that both psychology and the words of Lord Acton cannot apply to everybody all of the time, I do not believe it is fair or correct to say that I have slandered the vicar of Christ. My criticisms are directed at the governance of the church. The governance of the church needs to be transparent, accountable, and democratic. It is not currently so and it will probably take a very long time before anything resembling democratic governance enters the cloisters of the Vatican.
There is no doubt that any person within any context of power can be seduced by it. This is what I am alluding to and warning everybody about. Nobody can tell me that there has not been a case of a Catholic leader within any office of the Vatican, both today and throughout history, which has not been subject to any of the deleterious forces of having power. This is my point. Not slander, libel, or calumny.
It would be preferable if some feel that I have been unfair or outrageous in any of my comments, to contact me through posting SecondSight, in order to question me respectfully about any matter they do not understand or would like clarified. I would be happy to reply as best I can to such questions. This is far better than going off half-cocked with guns blazing.
I shall come back to you John Candido, I am visiting my family, but dont you worry. I shall be here!
I hope that I am wrong, but I think that why John Nolan has failed to respond to several legitimate and specific points that I have made within several posts within ‘Was St. Peter the Right Choice?’, is that he is using the well-trodden tactic of outrage. I have partly let him off the hook by not toning down the specific comment in the first place in review, but I am human and can make a tactical error now and then.
By expressing his outrage on one line of my posts, he can create a diversion away from the substantive points that I have made, and pack his bat and ball and go home. Is this the case John Nolan? If I am wrong, where are your rebuttals? Are you going to leave rebuttals to st.joseph? If you are going to stop posting by vacating the public sphere, it will be Liberals 1, Conservatives 0.
JC, I am not outraged, merely irritated. If you say ” the Church is governed by … ” you must be referring to Benedict XVI because of your choice of tense, mood and voice (present indicative passive). The key to avoiding misunderstanding is clarity of expression. If you are using a written medium, think before you type. We are all prone to overstate our case and in doing so I am as capable as the next man of contravening the precepts of Christian charity.
That said, I cannot be expected to rebut all your propositions. “The moon is made of green cheese! [pause for reply] No one has argued against this! Lunatics 1, Astronomers 0!”
John, what I said included the word ‘is’, as in ‘is governed by’, so on a first and cursory read, it seems to be suggesting the current Holy Father. But the full quote states ‘the Catholic Church is governed by Popes (plural) and leaders (plural) of Congregations that are selfish and childish autocrats, drunk on power’. So I think that even though it was a poorly expressed, sharp, and condensed phrase, it gives me some leeway in terms of the comment not applying to Pope Benedict XVI, because it was expressed in the plural. In any case, it was not intended to be directed at, or a personal comment on the Holy Father, who seems to be a quite avuncular man from a distance.
It occurred to me most recently, that as the election of the pontiff is only via a conclave of cardinals, who qualify for the franchise, a way of increasing the democratic value of such an election would be if those qualified to elect him were to include other clergy as well. For example, why not include all bishops and archbishops under the age of seventy-five? This will increase the number of electors considerably and improve the democratic credentials of the church by a considerable margin. It will also increase the number of candidates that can be elected to the papacy.
Democratic nation-states have formal mechanisms to remove their leaders. This is usually done by a no-confidence motion in the House of Commons, or the impeachment of an American president, or via an election. This is usually for the most serious of offences. The church needs to consider how it can remove a pontiff in rare and extreme cases, for example where they have committed and have been found guilty of a serious crime in a court of law. Of course this is most unlikely, but not impossible. I am not an expert in Canon Law, but I think it would be wise to at least have a formal process in place should this most rare of occasions were to unfold.
The death, resignation, or mental incapacity due to a medical condition, seem to be the only way a pontiff is to be removed today. Serious crimes should also be included within Canon Law as disqualifying a pontiff from office after due process. The current arrangements are too similar to how an absolute monarch was removed in England centuries ago, and needs to be updated.
While not totally relevant to this series of posting and the main subject matter i have to say that I have always been bemused by the conspiracy theories that abound as to plots by so-called liberals, modernists, and traditionalists et al:
Personally I’d be hard pressed to actually define one person who fit the description given but it would seem that there are veritable armies of them beavering away determined to rise up and impose their particular brand of Catholicism on those of a different Catholic persuasion.
In fact thinking about it now I do beleieve I would welcome the opportunity to meet even one committed liberal/ modernist/ traditionalist. It might at least fulfill the scritptural instrcution of not being luke warm.
Well why not Claret? We have had around 2,000 years of conservative rule. It’s about time that liberal theology is given a chance to affect change within the church. Looking at our history, I think that by any stretch of one’s imagination, it is only fair and reasonable that liberal notions and ideals be given a go. As long as the rule of liberalism was obtained legitimately, and due respect is given to other Catholics who are moderates and conservatives, which is their right, there is no possible reason that they cannot attain power and use it as they see fit.
The paedophilia crisis has been described by some intellectuals as one of the most serious, or the most serious crisis in the church’s entire history, even surpassing the Reformation. If the church is to have any shred of credibility left, it needs to change or it will die. Please be assured, I am not advocating a revolution through force, which would be a total farce and doomed to failure in both legal and theological terms. The only way that liberalism were to assume power, will only come through the election of a supreme pontiff, who will personally change the course of the church’s theology. And this will take a considerable amount of time unfortunately.
So right Claret- the word is Catholic Truth.
Just out of interest Statistics for criminology paedoplillia is. Not just for your info.
70% of South Baptist Ministers 1n 1993 knew Minister who had sexual contact with someone in their church. www. pedop-html.
Currently the largest Lawsuit against a church for mis -management and cover up of abuse within its rank is against the Mormon Church in the U.S.A. for 750M dollars. Details on htt:// http://www.child.pro.org.
One research claims that the problem is greater in Protestants than among catholics stating 1.7% of catholich priests are abusers, but 10% of Protestant
Ministers are abusers..httpy://.www.geocities/alhers/2213. under the www of criminologypaedophillia.
We already knew this. But I thought I would mention it, for those who like to
believe we are the only church that have sinners in it,what are we going to complain about when that is cleaned up.
We all know that Jesus chose Judas,and he was no saint!
I suppose that too would come under the heading of ‘corruption and power’.
Yes -lets have a so called liberal pope, then we can all do as we like-although we can still do that anyway, so whats the problem?-We ought to be able to know ourselves what is right and wrong.
To bring to your attention your earlier comment about the popes views, and appointing Cardinals ,and you state (to many). tell me if I am wrong, but isn’t there one for each country,I believe around 200 in all.
I would have thought we would have needed more!
Jesus chose Judas because he was an accountant. I’m surprised he’s not the patron saint of bankers.
“The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.” Lord Acton.
“Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought.” Lord Acton.
“Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity.” Lord Acton.
John Candido. Your comment ‘Liberal 1 Conservative 0.’ How imature that is.
I have only one comment to make to you and that is, ‘it tells the tale of what you think about Holy Mother Church by the blog ‘Candid Candido’, April 2010- If anyone is the least bit interested’ I would ask them to go to his opening comment., and the rest of his comments on there.
I won’t be giving you any more reason to insult the Church or Pope Benedict XV1.
So if you want an excuse to show your Liberalism, go to a meeting in ‘your’ local Church, but leave you computer behind.
Thank you John Nolan for having the courage to defend our faith, not many will do that to-day, although saying that they did on Candid Candido.
On the Feast Day of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle.
I will be praying especially for you today John Candido,for your conversion
And may ‘The Blessed Mother of our Church, always keep you in Her Loving Arms.
It may be helpful at this point to make a few remarks. They do not carry any more weight than the opinion of any contributor.
I think it to be a mistake to discuss the Church in liberal or conservative terms. The vocation of the Church is to be what Christ wanted it to be. In practice, that means that she will be rock solid in some aspects, and allow for maximum freedom in others.
Corruption is not an essential aspect of power, it is accidental. But experience has shown that the temptation to abuse is very strong in our fallen nature – so much so that we should always be on our guard, and use such checks and controls as are properly available. I do not think that Acton was making an absolute philosophical proposition: rather it was a rhetorical trope to emphasise a characteristic which is in fact associated with power so frequently that such exaggeration is justified.
The Catholic Church understands that its centre of unity is the pope. He is correctly called an autocrat, but we must not assume that he is in abuse of authority because of his role; it can only be because of his actions. There is undoubtedly a problem in the historical facts that popes have abused power, and a strong case can be made that the hierarchical nature of the Church has led, and continues to lead, to the abuse of power in various ways and at various levels of importance.
Undoubtedly much has to change, at all levels of the Church, for the community to reflect both the truth and the freedom which Christ came to give it. But we should not expect the Church to reach perfection this side of the Day of Judgment.
We can of course indulge in an intellectual exercise which envisages that Christ did not give to one, very fallible, man the position of the rock on which the integrity of the Church is founded. My view is that, were that to have been the case, Christ’s Church would by now have split into as many denominations as there are opinions. And, if the history of the Reformation is anything to go by, the intolerance of those in religious power would be very much worse than we could conceive today.
To put it another way: however scandalous and frequent abuse of power resulting from this autocracy may have been, it is a necessary price to have paid for the unity of the Church throughout two millennia and, we may hope, beyond
Quentin, can you explain further in more detail ,your application of the role of the pope in circumstances of misuse of power in todays heirarchical nature of the church.In more specific terms if you would.
We must get down to the nitty gritty truth without going round and round in circles.
Big words with no meaning. If we are accusing someone of something , we ought to know what sentence to give them,when found guilty!
Quentin states, ‘I think it to be a mistake to discuss the Church in liberal or conservative terms. The vocation of the Church is to be what Christ wanted it to be.’ I cannot agree with this statement. I am of the opinion that it would be a basic error not to discuss theology, ecclesiology, Canon Law, the scriptures, or any area of knowledge that is relevant to the church, within the entire spectrum of views that members of our church espouse. To not do so is to become ignorant of others views, and to not be able to discuss and debate any issue relevant to the church. It is simply the way that the church is naturally constituted.
I do agree that Acton was making a rhetorical trope, and that his propositions are to be taken with due consideration of the individual differences between people, and the differing contexts that they work in. I also agree that we all have a fallen nature and that ‘we should always be on our guard, and use such checks and controls as are properly available.’ However, if checks and controls are not available or they are insufficient, they should be introduced or reformed after a proper amount of debate has ensued within our Christian community.
I completely agree that we cannot condemn a person just because he or she has occupied a particular position, even if it is autocratic. We can only properly and fairly assess others by their behavior and attitudes. However, this does not mean that autocracy is something that should be desired for obvious reasons.
I absolutely agree that the Roman Catholic Church will never be perfect, even if it led by a thoroughly modern, democratic, accountable, and transparent system of governance, and led by the most liberal of popes with modern sympathies. This is a fundamental, assumptive truth, and an absolute given in all of our debates, on any proposed future ecclesiology or any proposed future governing structure of the church.
Although Quentin does not make this specific point, I don’t in any way support the view that respectful intellectual discussion and debate is an indulgence. It is the very crucible through which all communities and societies deal with conflict, achieve consensuses, and make progress in a civil manner. Of course debate and discourse is not easy to do at times. However, it is the only civilized approach for any person who wants to involve themselves in any issue in a democratic society. In addition, it is also one of the most effective ways of affecting change incrementally.
Although it is strictly a hypothetical and speculative suggestion, I think that Quentin’s proposition that if Christ did not give Peter the leadership role that he gave him, the church could have split itself into even more factions than exist at present is a reasonable one. What would have been the result if Christ chose two or more individuals to rule his church? Could they have resolved any conflict with a majority vote? Who is to know?
Apart from these considerations, modern democracy was not something that Christ or anybody else in the first century A.D. would have heard of or even understood. Modern democratic governance was completely out of the question or competence of this society, or any other first century society. Of course there were very simple, partial, and inchoate democratic forms of governance located in Athens and Rome. However, they were an exception in the ancient world.
I will never accede to his final notion that despite the frequency and scandalous nature of abuses of papal power in history, it ‘is a necessary price to have paid for the unity of the Church throughout two millennia and, we may hope, beyond’. Despite the fact that modern governance is something that is out of the question for our many forbears and that human nature is and always will be fallen, will make some of the abuses of power somewhat understandable in hindsight. However understandable we may view some past indiscretions and abuses, I suggest that we may not in conscience be able to apply this standard to the modern era, where more is expected of the church, even if it will always be an imperfect institution.
John a lot of insignificant words! Just not good enough!
You need to be more specific than that to prove your point, before finding the Church guilty of what you are accusing her of!
JC, there is some logic to your scheme for papal elections, and it would be an interesting exercise to put together a practical plan for its implementation. Would the bishops be required to travel to Rome, which would turn the conclave into a General Council? Or would they vote on-line? Who would draw up the short-list of candidates?
At the end of the day the man they elect would still be the Vicar of Christ, which is an awesome responsibility and the loneliest job in the world. In the foreword to his book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ Benedict XVI is at pains to point out that the opinions expressed are his personal ones, as distinct from what he says when exercising his office as supreme Pontiff. Before the papal visit David Cameron tempered his welcome by saying “I don’t agree with his views on homosexuality”. His views are irrelevant. What Cameron is publicly dissenting from is the universal moral law, based on Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law (which is God’s law) which no pope has the authority to alter – and which most people would have accepted a mere thirty years ago.
Popes can be removed by a General Council; in 1415 the Council of Constance deposed two and accepted the abdication of a third. It then went on to elect Martin V, ending what has become known as the Great Schism.
I wouldn’t want to minimize the seriousness of the sex abuse crisis, or the damage it has caused, but it shouldn’t be talked up either. Most of the cases involved pederasty rather than paedophilia, something Tatchell & co. conveniently threw a smokescreen over. The cover-ups occurred at local level and involved church and civil authorities.
In partial answer to your query as to the number of Cardinals. As you might anticipate it is far from straightforward and certainly does not equate to one per country.
There is a lot of history too as regards the appointment of Cardinals. For example in 1586 Pope Sixtus VI set the number at 70. Move forward to 1973 and Pope Paul set the new number at 120. I think it is nearer 200 today but some of them may not be officially sanctioned, because of age, to elect a new Pope.
One of the two precise obligations of a Cardinal is to elect a new Pope and the appointment of Cardinals is at the sole decision/favour of the reigning Pope. It can be seen from this that if a Pope wants to perpetuate his vision of the Church beyond his own pontificate then he has the opportunity to appoint new Cardinals that are sympathetic to his views, who will probably, in their turn, vote for someone who is of their views. (Guided by the Holy Spirit ?)
Whether this is a desireable state of affairs, leaving aside for a moment the intervention of the Holy Spirit, is a matter of opinion, but that is what we have at present and for the reasons I have just outlined any variation is unlikely.
‘It can be seen from this that if a Pope wants to perpetuate his vision of the Church beyond his own pontificate then he has the opportunity to appoint new Cardinals that are sympathetic to his views, who will probably, in their turn, vote for someone who is of their views. (Guided by the Holy Spirit?)’
This is exactly why I have described the governance of the Roman Catholic Church as manifestly moribund.
Johm Candido ?Is your name Claret, ?I was addressing Clartet-not you!
The word ‘Moribund’ is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as 1. At the point of death 2. Lacking vitality.
Those who do not follow the Truth taught by Jesus, with the authority of Holy Mother Church,by the power of the Holy Spirit,are lacking vitality and at the point of death!
To give a further example of the manifest corruption within the church in terms of the selection of bishops, there is a rather nice article in The Age that tells about a secret vetting of Australian candidates using clergy and some laity as trusted informers. Pope Benedict XVI is looking for orthodoxy, no predisposition to hereditary illnesses, the candidate’s family in terms of its ‘condition’ (whatever that means), loyalty to the Pope, commitment to celibacy, and opposition to women priests. The article can be accessed here… http://www.theage.com.au/national/pope-makes-secret-checks-on-clergy-20110313-1bsyh.html.
If the checks are so secret, how did it manage to be in the news
The Holy Fathers has been accused of ‘not’ doing checks before on paedophile priests.So he can’t be blamed now for putting in place the Oath of Fidelity.
No, priests are not employed by the Church, as said on the web,
they are under the charge of the Vatican. Duty binds them to obedience to the the Truth of the Teachings of the Church-not to their own opinions.
I anyone wants to go it alone,nothing is stopping them, they should move on.
Iwonder what the statement meant that the Holy Father was
not abiding by the Spirit of Vatican 2 .
Perhaps John you can explain that!
Thank you Claret for your reply,
Would it be possible to tell me what you mean by a new Popes views . I am a little confused by that.
John Candido, filled in a reply to himself above, I wish he wouldn’t do that!Really bad manners.
So I will have to put my answer here.
‘Liberty is not the power of doing what we like,but doing what we ought.’
Truth in its self. If more would practice that motto. we would all be living better lives.
The thing I find with that is, there are some who don’t know what they ‘ought’ to be doing’ what is right’ , but doing what they like, which isn’t.
Correction to Johns comment above. It should have read ‘ right to do what we ought.
Claret, most of the cardinals in 1958 had been appointed by Pius XII, but they didn’t seem to want to perpetuate his vision of the Church. They would almost certainly have chosen Montini had he been a cardinal, and put in Roncalli as a stop-gap. Perhaps Pius was more of a reformer than we give him credit for. He certainly kick-started the liturgical reform; Bl. John XXIII was a noted conservative in this area.
st. Joseph, if you put ‘subsidiarity’ into the search box, you will come up with three columns of mine related to this question. You might want to quiz me on points with which you disagree.
John Candido, I don’t disagree about the interrogation of various aspects of the ways in which the Church operates, but I think this has to be done in the light of what we can best discern to be Christ’s will. For example, the way in which the Holy Office has dealt with theologians whom they judge to be unorthodox, might well be compared with natural justice.
My heart is with you in the hope that the Church will develop into much more of a sharing and listening community. And I have written about this. For example I would always prefer, if it were practical, for decisions to be made via an Ecumenical Council rather than the pope acting on his own. And provided of course that the bishops could be seen to have listened carefully to the laity.
As a matter of fact I believe that the Church could benefit much from adopting good, modern, management practice. Here, although ultimate authority must lie with the board, the whole emphasis is on co-operative responsible activity. This preserves great freedoms within the safety of good leadership. From memory, I think it was Lao-Tzu who said that the best leadership was when the followers said “we did it ourselves.” Look forward to the day!
Quentin, I agree with much of what you have to say, but “the laity” must mean more than the usual coterie of middle-class, liberal-minded activists who like running things. The “liturgy committee” of a parish I know quite well spent some time worrying about the fact that the monthly Polish mass (with a visiting priest) was out of sync. with the rest of the parish liturgy (sic). In other words, too traditional.
Three years ago I attended a lecture at Oxford given by Dr Laurence Hemming. He reminded his mostly clerical audience that the person who comes and kneels at the back of the church for fifteen minutes is connecting with the liturgy. The modern Church is too much like a club for the “committed” who are then given functions which reinforce their sense of self-importance.
Quentin Thank you.
I went into the columns you suggested and read the comments.Before I begin, I will say my experience is why I want to find the truth of what John Candido is expressing in his claims. I know his feelings towards the Church from previous comments.
What I am commenting on is not how I feel the church is now, but was, and I dont want to see past ,and it is easy for John Candido to express his opinions on line- the reason being- if he went into any catholic church today ,and he has the opportunity to do so,but knows too well that he would be challenged by the laity with his so called liberal opinions .
First Autonomy and Obedience.
I made four comments on that site, and made them quite clear.no.5- 7-10 and 14.
First referring to the Bishops comments . I forgot his name now) the subject was him.
Also on the National Pastoral Conference. 1978. How the voice of the laity given their head-went astray on the doctrines of the Church, when we had to answer a questionaire.I was Chair of the Parish Council from 1970,but when that came to fill in forms,we were asked our opinions,the Parish Priest threw it on the floor, and I decided to resign. Also later resigned from the Diocesan Pastoral Council.
Many things were brought in under the banner of Vatican 2 reforms,which had nothing to do with the Council. At the NPC we had to choose a theme for our parishes. We chose The Holy Family . St Joseph the parish Church name. All agreed.
Our Lord warned us that whenever wheat is sown (by this the Word of God) the enemy will sow cockle with it, to confuse the ordinary faithful who are trying to atune their mind to the church. If the devil can misquote Scripture for his purpose, he can also misquote the Vatican Council and any other documents that are destined to proclaim the message of Christ to the modern world.,and to save souls.
Pope John XX111 in his inaugural address to the Council fathers explained quite clearly that the purpose of the Vatican Council was most certainly not to change doctrine, which emphasized,is unchangeable,but rather to enuniciate the eternal truth of the Faith to the modern world” This certain and unchangeable doctrine,to which faithful obedience is due,has to be explored and presented in a way that is demanded by our times. The deposit of faith, which consists of the truths contained in Sacred Scripture is one thing; the manner of presentation,always however with the same meaning and signification, is something else.
In view of this the faithful are called to be vigilant, lest they be confused by “experts” who have certainly increased and multiplied in this respect,what ever their views on Family Planning! Experts have produced experts, who have produced more experts, and’ working parties’ and ‘committees’ to reorganise and to reassess and reconstitute and make things more ‘meaningful’ and to be more committed.
The words of Pope John Paul 2nd in his address ‘Open the Door to Christ’., seems ro me to be the true spirit of Vatican 2, which implies a more frequent use of the Sacraments and a deeper life of prayer,rooted in the Holy Eucharist ‘the Living Heart of the Church (Pope Paul V1 ‘Credo of the People of God’.
Your Site. Ecclesia Corrupta.
Your comment. Decisions should always be taken at the lower level. Higher authority should only apply when a particular set of circumstances is necessary for the good of all!
On the site Practice what you Preach, I wasn’t on the blog then 2009.
You say ‘Why was the translation of the Liturgy wrested from the ICEL commission and take directly inder the Curias wing?
I say not for Power,but for Authority!
Why would the laity object to the Tridentine Mass? Yes why I ask?
Too much Lace . As I think someone mention (maybe the Bishop)
A sense of reverence. I attend the Novo Ordo Mass, but the it is celebrated fitting for Our Father as Worship. I will say no more on that, only some of the goings on, and to fit in with the re-ordering of the Sanctuary.
Can you wonder why one would be upset at Father Hodgens remarks about the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to Our Lady!! etc..
No wonder we have had a lack of Vocations and to the religious life, with no proper instruction on the faith, and less from parents, who accepted the new theology on the Pill- turning their back on Natural Family Planning, The new theology of Liberation went down well with femenist thinking. And there was plenty of that about.
Catholics for a Changing Church etc.
I will say no more,but my feelings are strongly placed here. If I continue on the blog I will not stop defending the church.
Thank God for His Holiness Pope Benedict XV1. Lon gMay he Live’
Deo Gratias. (Maybe spelt wrong.) Amen.
Thank you, st.Joseph. You demonstrate very effectively how we all have our own particular gifts to bring to the service of the Church. God will judge their value.
Thank you Quentin.
You ask about the use of my words ‘pope’s views’ in relation to the appointment of cardinals. I can only repeat that the only person in the Catholic Church with the authority to appoint Cardinals is the sitting Pope.
I believe I am correct in saying that most Popes simply appoint to fill vacancies but if one had a mind to do so he could appoint far more Cardinals that just those that are needed to fill vacancies and therefore possibly appoint ‘extra’ cardinals that he considered were more likely, because of their track record, to be those who shared his views on particular matters viz. the direction that the Church should take, or indeed to carry on where he left off. To be blunt, it is an opportunity to skew the vote as to who will be the next Pope.
As I mentioned in my previous post on this topic there is the guidance of the Holy Spirit to be taken into consideration.