Democracy or Tyranny?

Perhaps we have all read, more than perhaps we wanted to, about clerical abuse and the summit of bishops led by Pope Francis , which ended on 24 February. So today I want to look at a more basic factor but which may have played an important part in the traditional behaviour of diocesan bishops. I am referring to the quaint arrangement which in effect gives complete disciplinary power to the bishop. I use the term ‘quaint’ because, unlike Victorian times, most successful secular operations nowadays not only listen to their staffs but deliberately look for communication and feedback. And of course, either by choice or by law, staffs have important rights.

There are some who would turn at this point to the powers given by Christ to the Apostles, and so to their successors. That closes the case. Or does it? The secular operations to which I have referred continue to have boards and bosses, and a range of executive levels. And necessarily there are rules and formal behaviours which are necessary for success and legality. They are neither democracies nor tyrannies.

Some 50 years ago Donald Nicholl, a leading lay Catholic at the time, wrote an article in the Clergy Review called “The Layman and Ecclesiastical Authority.” He quoted a sociologist, Professor Revans, who had conducted a study of communication in hospitals. Revans took a group of hospitals and compared those which had low turnover of staff at all levels and those which had high turnover. He examined a range of hypotheses which might throw up essential factors. The contrast turned out to be the quality of communication.

The poor hospitals were of course communicating, but the direction of communication was typically downwards. Each level treated the level below as idiots, and the final level of idiocy was the patients at the bottom of the heap. Virtually no communication travelled upwards, and, interestingly, there was very little lateral communication – that is, the different professional functions chose to insulate themselves from each other.

The good hospitals had an easy flow of communication upwards and downwards, and the professional groups worked comfortably together to maximise efficiency. In only one respect did the good hospitals have a higher turnover: the patients had shorter stays because they got better quicker. It was as if the poor hospitals existed to maintain themselves, with the patients as no more than an unavoidable nuisance, while the good hospitals worked together, and with the patients, in the shared objective of healing.

Hospitals and religious communities are different in many ways but both of them share imperatives. Both of them contain different functions which are nevertheless related. Both of them flourish through sharing responsibilities. Both of them are concerned with healing. Is it possible to have a Church in which communication and respect throughout is the key to presenting the life of Christ to the world?

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Church and Society, Moral judgment, Quentin queries. Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Democracy or Tyranny?

  1. Olive Duddy says:

    Only one priest has accepted my opinion that because God creates us, the act through which we are created is a sacred act and cannot be distorted by contraception. Olive

    Sent from my iPhone

    • David Smith says:

      // Only one priest has accepted my opinion that because God creates us, the act through which we are created is a sacred act and cannot be distorted by contraception. //

      There are multiple problems with making the management of the Church more democratic. One is that democracy implies majority rule. The majority will always be inclined to vote for what’s popular. Right now, sexual permissiveness is extremely popular.

      • Nektarios says:

        David Smith

        What can I say, David, the Church not democratic, nor was it ever intended to be. Nor is the permissive, liberal, nor the centralized tyrannical systems Churches seem to operate under today. Nor was the Church political and a charity dependent on government handouts and interference.

        The Church, David, if it is anything at all, is theocratic. God’s rules. but it is clear in many cases the Church has departed from God.
        Another thing on this, the Church is not any religious institution, but solely the people who are God’s people and of the Kingdom of God where everyone has their gift(s) of the Holy Spirit and are to serve one another in the Church. That is truly Apostolic.
        The Church main function is to preach the Gospel, nowadays they hardly do that today to win the souls of men and women.

        There are many other aspects to the Church, such as Doctrine, teaching and Practice from the Holy Apostles. That is the only basis for a meaningful Christian fellowship, again it’s the means God has ordained for what a Church truly is, how it lives, what its responsibilities are as believers one to another.
        Have a think about all this today as we all should. what is a Christian, what is a Christian Church what is a Christian fellowship and how we are to conduct ourselves?
        Then, we would be returning to in reality to Christ, and the Apostolic doctrine, teaching and practice.

        That is what the Holy Spirit has passed on to us, and that in obedience to that is what He alone blesses us. We are kidding or fooling ourselves with anything other or less than that.

  2. David Smith says:

    Quentin writes:

    // Hospitals and religious communities are different in many ways but both of them share imperatives. Both of them contain different functions which are nevertheless related. Both of them flourish through sharing responsibilities. Both of them are concerned with healing. //

    Well, every combination of two or more people is an organization, no? If we’re thinking about the organizational characteristics of the institutional church, I wonder whether it might not be more useful to look at organizations closer to home, so to speak, than hospitals, which seem to me very different from churches. For one thing, hospitals are collections of prima donnas, medical professionals whose ability to perform their highly specialized roles depends largely on the size of their general intelligence and on their egos. You don’t want a mediocre, indecisive surgeon operating on your brain or planning your cancer treatment. In the bishop’s palace, on the other hand, if every prelate were a brilliant prima donna, you’d clearly have a non-functional mess.

    What about looking at other religious institutions with hierarchical structures? The Eastern Catholic churches, for example, or churches less centralized than than the Roman Catholic? The latter might be a good fit for comparison if we’re asking whether the Pope and his bishops might be holding on to their reins more tightly than, ideally, they should.

  3. Alasdair says:

    Quentin says “There are some who would turn to the powers given by Christ to the Apostles, and so to their successors” – some? SOME? For goodness sake – are we christians or not?
    Nektarios uses the phrase “returning in reality to Christ, and the Apostolic doctrine, teaching and practice” Phew! So Jesus gets a mention there!
    On the previous topic John Nolan, brave fellow, mentioned Jesus. I could just imagine the other contributors eye-rolling, yawning and scrolling past this unwarranted “holy” interruption to the secular discussion.
    However, if we are determined to pursue wholly secular methods: – The secular operations to which Quentin referred to, with their boards and bosses, are also subject to the scrutiny of independent voluntary and statutory regulatory bodies. These exist to ensure the rules and formal behaviours which are necessary for legality. They have considerable powers and can mobilise quickly when necessary. They are neither democracies nor tyrannies and importantly must not have as their priority, protection of the reputation of the institution being inspected or of individuals within them. Therefore perhaps “Ofchurch” would be a good thing – an Office for Standards in Christian Churches. This would use as it’s opening gambit in all inspections, a copy of the church’s very detailed operating procedures. Woe betide any Bishop not in possession of an up-to-date copy, and not very familiar with its contents.

    • Quentin says:

      Alasdair, just for the record, the principle of subsidiarity, which I am describing in action here, is laid out in the Church’s formal social teaching. Pius XI, Pius XII and John XXIII, all commend it. Pius XII (Address to New Cardinals 1946) assures them that this “principle of universal validity” applies equally to the life of the Church.

      • Alasdair says:

        Thank you Q,
        Sorry if I have misconstrued and caused hurt. I am currently on a work trip abroad (to Wales!) and am working from an unfamiliar device. Your response is complicated and will take a while to digest.
        A

  4. Geordie says:

    Bishops have absolute power in their dioceses and we all know what absolute power does. The power they exercise is more to do with the clergy than the laity. If a priest falls out of favour with his bishop he may as well pack up; either find another diocese or leave the priesthood. The gossipmongers and sycophants in the diocese will get to work and he will be ostracised. A parish priest once told me that the clergy were the worst gossips imaginable. It takes a holy priest with a strong vocation to weather the storm until a new bishop comes along.
    I remember, when I was young, a curate disagreed with his bishop and he was sacked. There was no appeal, no tribunal and no justice. His clerical colleagues kept their heads down. In the end it turned out well for him but he suffered greatly for many months.
    These days the laity do not suffer so much from dictatorial bishops, because, (in spite of all the rubbish written in the Catholic press about a bishop when he retires), the majority of laypeople aren’t really interested in what bishops say or do. If they are seriously upset by the clergy or hierarchy, they either ignore what has happened or leave the church.
    The system needs a complete overhaul. Checks and balances need to be established so that the Church can move from its present malaise.

  5. Nektarios says:

    Alasdair refers to: perhaps “Ofchurch” would be a good thing – an Office for Standards in Christian Churches… This would use as the opening gambit in all inspections, a copy of the church’s very detailed operating procedures.”
    This is clearly taken from the Educational system, where the buck stops with Government.

    Alasdair insists upon an Office of Standards in Christian Churches, quite right. The only one acceptable to God and every true Christian is the standard for and in the Church, of Christ and His Holy Apostles, none other. But we have ignored or paid lip-service the Apostles and erroneously set up our own standards, and look at the mess that has got the whole Churches into?
    Some would say setting standards today falls to the Pope, Bishops and Cardinals as the Apostle’s successors.
    I don’t want us to get bogged down with those spurious arguments about Apostolic Succession.

    The Church in Rome did not start like that. They, like all the other Christian Churchs set up followed, practised and obeyed the Apostolic Doctrine, Teaching and Practice. The idea of hierarchy
    did not come into it.
    Initially, there were deacons and Bishops. Those individuals were not dumped on congregations to rule over them like they are today, but these were known men to the local church. The issue of a Bishop was a position of honour and administration and relating and corresponding with other Christian Churches in near and far different places.

    If we are to understand what is the standard for the Christian Churches, and there must be a standard, then it is solely the Apostolic Doctrine Teaching and Practice.

    Unlike today, all the Churches followed the Teaching of the Holy Apostles.

    The Apostolic standard is not something externally imposed, but inwardly active in every true Christian.

  6. George says:

    I’m not up in management-speak, but I think a modern idea is that organisations should have multiple sources of authority flowing in different ways. For the Catholic Church I see no reason why this should not also apply, with the Pope and Bishops having the ultimate last word, but in practice delegating a lot of their authority on disciplinary matters to various other organs

  7. John Nolan says:

    In the first century Clement of Rome likened the clergy to the legates, tribunes and centurions of the Roman army. The strict exercise of authority was the only guarantee of unity. If, as Nektarios says, pure Apostolic teaching did not have to be imposed, but was active in the hearts of the believers, there would have been no heresies, and yet we know there were plenty of these in the second century, lumped under the general heading of Gnosticism. The Church could have become divided into numerous sects with different doctrinal positions, but this did not happen.

    Geordie is spot on regarding episcopal influence over lay people. I have sat through numerous ‘pastoral letters’ and they are uniformly platitudinous and anodyne. Bishops may bully their clergy, but when it comes to the laity they are all things to all men. However, they do not have absolute power in their dioceses, even when it comes to upholding orthodoxy, since in this country at least they must be in lockstep with the CBCEW, a body which has no authority of its own. Ask the current Bishop of Portsmouth who had his knuckles rapped not long ago by a lay official of that body.

    In terms of Catholic social teaching, subsidiarity is about the State not arrogating to itself functions that should be carried out by individuals or smaller groups. Pius XI had the example of Mussolini’s ‘corporate State’ in mind. If Pius XII thought that it also applied to ecclesiastical government, he did nothing to implement it in practice. Perhaps he assumed it already existed.

    It would be interesting if those who are so in favour of it could provide a working model so that we can discuss it.

    • Nektarios says:

      John Nolan
      It does not necessarily follow what I said would exclude the possibility of heresy. They defied the Apostolic doctrine and teaching and it showed up in their practice. They had to repent or leave the Church, they chose to leave the Church most of them that were dragged away by heresy.

      Most don’t know the power of Apostolic doctrine and teaching in practice, nor the joy and peace with God it brings. They would rather believe or hold on to their own opinions but to call it faith it is not so.
      We add so many sorrows not only to ourselves but to others.

      What a Bishop is nowadays or for the last 16 centuries bears no relation to Apostolic doctrine, teaching and practice.

      Ecclesiastic power is not spiritual power, but earthy political and as we see today mostly disobedient to Christ and to the Apostles.
      I can only see matters getting worse unless there is a mighty outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit in reviving power. I pray for such an outpouring of the Holy Spirit practically every day with many others around the world and in all the Churches.

    • Quentin says:

      John, subsidiarity is indeed an important subject. I am toying with the idea of saying more in my next blog post. It should help our discussion. Anyone who has read my Authority and Obedience in the Catholic Church (T & T Clark 2002) will already know my views.

  8. John Nolan says:

    Nektarios

    Who compelled heretics to repent or leave the Church? The bishops of course. And if they had Apostolic authority then, who are you to say they lost it in the fourth century?

    This is a tired and unsustainable argument, heard often from Protestants trying to justify their own heresy, and sadly from certain Catholics who ought to know better.

    • Nektarios says:

      No one as far as I know from History was compelled to repent, John, But it was clear from what they were saying, they, as Scripture puts it, ‘they left because they were not of us.’

      You are misinformed, John, it was not only the Bishop that made them leave but the whole of the congregation that were abiding in the Apostolic doctrine, teaching and practice. It became clear they were not, and going against Apostolic doctrine, teaching and practice, and so left the Church or was encouraged to do so if unrepentant to leave as they were disturbing the flock.

      A bishop in the early Christian Church was an elected leader by the congregation and known to them all, not like today.
      And again you misrepresent what I said. Bishops never had Apostolic authority then as such, no matter how you wish to say they did. Bishops did not lose Apostolic authority
      in the fourth century, they never had it in the first place. I was talking of the trend to move gradually away from the Apostolic doctrine, teaching and practice and form their own system based on the Roman Empire model in the 3rd to 4th centuries AD.
      Was the Bishop, as the congregation also to abide in the Apostolic doctrine, teaching and practice? I think your understanding of what an Apostle is and was and what the prerequisites were that made them so if you include Bishops, is biased in a Roman Catholic erroneous way. It was is just a power grab to claim authority, something the early Church Bishops never did or even dared to do.

      As far as my argument if you can call it that is concerned, I am not trying to justify anything nor am I heretical in what I have said. Constantly repeating the claim for Apostolic succession for Bishops down through the centuries was wrong then and is now. It is your argument alas, John, that is unsustainable and heretical. So unlike you!

  9. John Nolan says:

    Nektarios

    It’s not my argument. It’s what the Catholic Church teaches and what Catholics are required to believe. You seem to be suggesting that bishops in the primitive Church either did not believe they were in Apostolic succession through the laying on of hands and so claimed no authority (which is palpably untrue; St Ignatius of Antioch, writing in AD 107, insisted that the authority of the bishop was the sole criterion of a legitimate Christian church) or that they claimed Apostolic authority but did not in fact possess it, which made their authority a sham.

    Those, like yourself, who argue that post-Constantinian Christendom, both East and West, was a massive aberration, a perversion of Apostolic teaching and a ‘power grab’, have to explain how else would Christianity have spread throughout the known world, and how else would it have survived the barbarian takeover of the west (it actually survived precisely because it adopted a governance based on Roman provincial administration). They have to argue that it was purely a coincidence that the Incarnation took place in the Roman Empire when that empire was approaching the height of its power and influence. They also assume that the Holy Ghost must have abandoned the Church very early in her history, despite Our Lord’s promise to Peter.

    And, like you, they have to construct for themselves a model of the early Church as a number of democratic charismatic communities with little need of authority; a construct which exists only in their imaginations.

  10. Nektarios says:

    John Nolan

    You wrote: ‘bishops in the primitive Church either did not believe they were in Apostolic succession through the laying on of hands and so claimed no authority (which is palpably untrue; St Ignatius of Antioch, writing in AD 107, insisted that the authority of the bishop was the sole criterion of a legitimate Christian church)’

    First, the early Christian Church was far from being primitive.
    Secondly, the Apostles laying on of hands was Apostolic succession, no it was not, it was giving these men their commission and charge as a Bishop, not the same as the authority of an Apostle at all. They were enjoined to hold fast to the Apostolic doctrine, teaching and practice like all the other believers. They were never equal to an Apostle but received from them their position as Bishop which was agreed by everyone in the congregation.
    St. Ignatius was quite right of course, there had to be deacons and a Bishop for a legitimate Christian Church.

    You go on to write, John, ‘They also assume that the Holy Ghost must have abandoned the Church very early in her history, despite Our Lord’s promise to Peter.’
    That is utter rubbish, the Holy Spirit has never abandoned God’s people at any time and never will.
    Despite what we were in the past and see today, (the parable of the wheat and the tares) It is not God who is abandoning us and it is not for me or anyone else to pull up the tares that is left to the angels to do at the end of time.

    Finally, John, I have already answered your charges above in your last paragraph.

    • John Nolan says:

      Sorry, Nektarios, it’s a waste of time arguing with you. Your English isn’t good enough to understand the meaning of ‘primitive’, your theology is a regurgitation of jejune protestant heresies, and you have insufficient historical knowledge to answer anything I might put before you.

      I suppose you have some balls, since you can pop up on a Catholic website and tell Catholics their Church is in error. But then your heresy is material, not formal, and so your ultimate salvation is certainly possible.

      • Nektarios says:

        John Nolan,

        Oh, high praise indeed as you writ large my supposed deficiencies. I admit to most of your claims apart from heresies, English, Church history, and theology.
        I do not know you well enough to mention or hurl insults on any deficiencies you may have, known to you alone, but you do have them.

        So, descend the stairs of your comforting illusions and cosy half-truths and sit in the dust
        for there you might find in that stillness and quietness His presence and He might speak with you.

        I do not pop up on this Catholic website to criticize anyone, and we all have errors, me, probably more than most but my calling is to serve the Lord and His people everywhere.

        Of course, I am aware of the differences. That’s OK until what these differences have wrought among all God’s Children, division, division and more division, that cannot be right.
        Think the best of me, John, amidst my seemingly constant mental irritations to you which are never intended.

  11. David Smith says:

    Quentin writes:

    // subsidiarity, which I am describing in action here //

    Aha. I didn’t realize that. I thought you were suggesting something organizationally new for the Church. What you are suggesting, then, is just that authorities listen better and communicate better, not that they cede authority that they now have?

    • Nektarios says:

      David Smith

      Subsidiarity is really talking down from the top. So you think the authorities listen to you, David? No, they don’t unless it shows them up. The hierarchy listens to each other. they neither listen or communicate better to the rest of the body of Christ.

      You can bet your bottom dollar that they do not cede their ecclesiastic authority in practice
      they now have. For what they hold as authority is unequivocally not Apostolic, merely a later ecclesiastic addition.

      And of course, these Bishops, Cardinals and Pope are doing a magnificent job ruling the Church with almost total authority are they not? It is almost laughable to make such a claim these days of corruption or in centuries past.
      The Apostolic injunction was to serve the flock and feed the flock of God, and protect the flock, not to rule like a Ceasar nor serve and protect a corrupted and over-blown institution.
      Their positions of authority is man-made, serving the institution and themselves, of course, climbing the ecclesiastic ladder.

      There are many Christians in the Roman Catholic Church who see what is going on with the clergy, but they are ridiculed, blamed, and silenced.
      My heart goes out to my Christian brethren in the RCC and other Churches where their leaders are behaving the same corrupted bullying way.

      • David Smith says:

        Nektarios writes:

        // For what they hold as authority is unequivocally not Apostolic, merely a later ecclesiastic addition. //

        It seems that the longer civilizations last, the more administrative rules they accumulate. It’s probably one of the things that cause their eventual weakening and collapse. Looking at a missel the other day, I realized how complex Catholic rituals have become. Just recently, for example, Vatican II added the three lectionary cycles. This sort of thing doubtless keeps the theologians and clerks busy and makes them happy, but I suspect it serves mainly to confuse the person in the pew. Ritual piled on ritual is clutter. And then, you have the bit-fiddling changes, made for little apparent reason other than that the man in charge has the power to make them – John Paul’s Luminous Mysteries of the rosary, Francis’s rewriting of a piece of the Catechism to put Church teaching in sync with his personal feelings about capital punishment. So much institutional complexity and noise, and, at the same time, so much less certainty and focus on simple truths.

        People, especially in these times of endless chaos, need simplicity, certainty, a refuge from the madding crowd, a place in which to shelter from the secular Sturm und Drang and contemplate the eternal. Instead of that, there’s ever more insistence on the part of the clergy and the hierarchy on bringing the Sturm und Drang inside the shelter.

  12. David Smith says:

    Before concluding that more subsidiarity is better, consider that the present levels of subsidiarity may be a principal cause of much of the institutional Church’s current scandals and other misfortunes.

    I just read a piece on Crux concerning some apparently extremely bad behavior by a recent UN nuncio. One lesson one might take away from reflecting on those events is that the nuncio was, in the spirit of subsidiarity, given free rein to behave badly, with little corrective action being taken by Rome, and that only after months or years of repeated complaints. And, when action was finally taken, it was only to move him to another diplomatic post.

    Too much power and too much trust given to people at lower levels can lead to serious errors remaining uncorrectef for too long, if they are ever corrected at all. Sound familiar?

  13. John Nolan says:

    David Smith

    Subsidiarity is a principle. You can’t have ‘less’ or ‘more’ of it. That is why I would like a discussion about it which would throw up some models as to how it might be implemented.

    One model which should be firmly resisted is the creation of ‘national’ Churches based on the majority decisions of episcopal conferences. The BBC refers to Vincent Nichols as the ‘leader of England’s Roman Catholics.’ He is nothing of the sort. He happens to chair the CBCEW but his authority does not transcend the geographical limits of the archdiocese of Westminster.

    • David Smith says:

      John Nolan writes:

      // Subsidiarity is a principle. You can’t have ‘less’ or ‘more’ of it. //

      Noted. Thanks. But you can have more or less of different modes of implementation. Fairness, too, is a principle, but there are a few million possible ways of implementing it.

      • David Smith says:

        Following up on that a bit. When I suggested (or intended to suggest) that an unfortunately generous application of the principle of subsidiarity may be at the root of much of the sexual-abuse grief the institutional church is presently suffering from, I meant that some – perhaps many, perhaps all – of the offending cardinals and bishops were tacitly permitted, intentionally or not, to continue in their error by having Rome defer to their independence instead of calling them to answer. In other words, too much trust in too many people for far too long. Subsidiarity should not be a blank check. Perhaps it has been and continues to be.

  14. John Candido says:

    People are a product of their environment and whatever abilities they have inherited genetically.

    People and governments are creatures of habit.

    If one looks at the political development of the church throughout history, the church developed alongside the Roman Empire, that had an emperor and local governors who had no experience of democracy.

    I have lost count of the number of times that apologists or explainers of the governance of the Roman Catholic Church gave the analogy of a corporation.

    A corporation has a governing board of directors and a duly appointed chairman or chairwoman, and this is how capitalism has always been.

    Capitalism in this top-down model is not democratic because the workers must obey their leaders.

    Capitalism is going to change by society’s desire to develop and incorporate co-operatives, which is allowing workers a greater say in how their part-owned business will run, how much they will pay its hired executives, what it will pay workers, what they will produce and how they will produce its goods, etc.

    I believe that the Roman Catholic church will find co-operatives an exciting and influential piece of culture that will act as a catalyst to influence it to have a more democratic and accountable leadership.

  15. David Smith says:

    John Candide writes:

    // Capitalism is going to change by society’s desire to develop and incorporate co-operatives, which is allowing workers a greater say in how their part-owned business will run, how much they will pay its hired executives, what it will pay workers, what they will produce and how they will produce its goods, etc. //

    Unlikely, I think, if the future of work continues as it’s been going lately, with workers continually in movement through an enormous and ever changing pool of employers. Businesses pop up, combine, divide, disappear. Employment needs change frequently as technology and economic advantage change and competition evolves. Employee cooperatives seem to me based on the old and outdated model of one worker staying with one company for a lifetime.

  16. Nektarios says:

    I heard on the news the other day that Cardinal Pell got six years in prison in Australia. That was for two cases he was involved in there. At the Vatican, he was involved in man, many more cases. Still, the Pope has not defrocked him? But perhaps he is busy bringing the Catholic Church down with his liberal, communist and globalist agendas?
    The Catholic Church is in a bad way and has been for a very long time. My question to you is not what will the Cardinals and other clergies do about all this, clearly nothing much, but what will you do? It is time to stop thinking you can do nothing, wringing your hands and expecting someone else to do the running for you, perhaps its time to get together and act around the world.
    If they had the authority they have lost a long time ago and are bringing shame upon you all. ACT!

    • Martha says:

      Find the CNA report on the matter and read it.

      • Nektarios says:

        Martha

        I read the CNA report. On the surface, it looks balanced. However, there was definitely a pro- Cardinal Pell innocence bias. Why was this, then it became clear, CNA is the Catholic News Authority.
        I am not the Cardinal’s judge, there is One that does that.

        But don’t bury your head in the sand as it were and think you will remain oblivious blissfully ignorant about what is going on with the myriad of sex scandals presently where it seems the same old cover-up job is remaining and attacking those who come forward on these issues.

  17. David Smith says:

    Nektarios writes:

    // My question to you is not what will the Cardinals and other clergies do about all this, clearly nothing much, but what will you do? //

    The laity can do next to nothing. Even Viganò, an insider, was reviled when he tried. Some lay people have stopped giving money to their parish churches. For the most part, that hurts mostly their individual parishes and dioceses, but, at least in the USA, it’s bound to get the bishops’ attention, if the loss is great enough. Of course, some – many? – have left the church. Others, who have essentially created their own local Catholic churches, will, I suspect, just ignore the scandals and continue to do their own thing. Nektarios, the Roman Catholic Church is not run by the laity, as are many or most Jewish and Protestant congregations. It’s well and, of course, correct to speak of the church being the people, but for Catholics, that means less on the ground than it does elsewhere.

    Pell, by the way, may have been railroaded. He’s appealing the sentence.

  18. Nektarios says:

    David Smith

    This division of Laity and clergy is a tricky one I admit, but the principle is All regenerated true believers in Christ is, you all have your gifts of the Holy Spirit. You say, ‘the laity can do nothing.’
    The reason for this is, the clergy has abrogated all the gifts, they think, of the Holy Ghost to themselves. As such the laity so-called are mere pawns in their ecclesiastic machinations.
    Time to wake up and realise what you have in Christ and what gifts you have of the Holy Spirit.
    and how to use them in the service of your brethren in love.

    Another principle, all clergy as leaders in the Church are meant to serve the people of God, not rule
    over it. The idea of a priest and a Bishop today is far removed from the Apostolic practice of how they and the Christian Church should conduct itself.
    I am reminded of Korah which you all should read on Priesthood. Korah – Numbers 16:1-18:32
    Korah had a point. “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why, then, do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

    You see David, there is only God’s way of doing things in the Church. See what happened to Korah and the priests that followed him – fair warning to them today!

  19. John Candido says:

    Nektarios, describing the Pope as a ’communist’ with ’globalist agendas’ is inaccurate and exposes you to everyone reading your reply as someone who has not bothered to do any homework.

    It may also tell all of us that you frequent websites and read material that can be described as conspiratorial.

    You would have been better placed to criticise Francis head-on as being weak on the issue of paedophilia in the ranks of the Catholic priesthood.

    I am not a lawyer and I did not attend a single day of his trial where he was found guilty of molesting two choir boys after a Sunday mass in the sacristy of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

    I have been told that Pell was convicted solely on the basis of no other evidence other than his victim’s word and Pell’s word.

    Pell’s counsel will be lodging an appeal against his convictions, so it is not over yet.

    The Pope will not be saying anything or making any move to Derrick Pell until the appeal process has run its course.

    You would have to agree that this is only fair and proper, surely?

    Pell got six years for being convicted of molesting two choir boys in the one legal case.

    You do have an unplaced belief in whatever I can do about the worldwide sexual abuse scandal committed by our Catholic clergy, and by non-Catholic clergy.

    The Roman Catholic Church’s record in pushing back against this insidious problem has been spotty if examined globally.

    Some archdioceses have been excellent, while others have performed woefully or inadequately.

    You are dead right when you say that the Catholic Church is in an awful state and has been for a long time.

    • Coconuts says:

      John,

      I have been told that Pell was convicted solely on the basis of no other evidence other than his victim’s word and Pell’s word.

      It is a strange case, and it does not seem typical of the kind of scandalous and prolific abuse that was allowed to go on in some places. The fact cardinal Pell was apparently such a controversial figure in Australia is another complicating factor.

      The Roman Catholic Church’s record in pushing back against this insidious problem has been spotty if examined globally.

      This is definitely true but I think it is related to the Church’s status as a very multinational organisation. The problem of child sexual abuse seems to be less recognised in many countries outside the West, if there isn’t this particular recognition and understanding in the rest of society bishops will be both less motivated and have more challenges in putting in place the relevant protections.

    • Nektarios says:

      John Candido

      You forget that Cardinal Pell and his cronies, allegedly (if that word suits you better),
      have been involved in this sort of crime that should not even be mentioned among us, as the Church is the body of Christ.

      As an individual, there is probably very little one can do against the worldwide sexual abuse scandal(s). If proven, and much of it has, the Church in all the countries on mass should rise up and demand the appropriate action be taken.
      If repentant they should still be thrown out of the priesthood for the sake of the flock and to restore confidence.

  20. John Candido says:

    Correction.

    The Pope will not be saying anything or making any move to defrock Pell until the appeal process has run its course.

  21. Geordie says:

    Nektarios
    The Catholic Church includes the laity when the clergy and hierarchy want something. Otherwise the clergy and the hierarchy claim to be the Church and the laity’s job is to pray and pay. It is years since I stopped paying but I am still praying.

    I agree with you that we, lay Catholics, should rise up and make our voices heard but it seems to be the Americans are the only Catholics doing this. In this country the laity does very little. We are split into at least three groups; the sycophants who won’t accept any criticism of the clergy and hierarchy; the lapse Catholics who have had enough and left; and the people like me who pray but don’t know what else to do. I used to write letters to the Catholic press and to the bishops but these were studiously ignored. People didn’t even bother to contradict my assertions. This blog is a good platform for comment but I doubt if any bishops read it; that’s assuming they can read long words.

    • Nektarios says:

      Geordie
      Quite so. Network and find those who are of similar mind, and they can expand from their own contacts list within the Church. Soon your voice would rise like a crescendo!

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