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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Clericalism from America Magazine?

What a lovely surprise, a priestly writer in America telling us that Catholics, especially uppity laymen such as the one whose column he is addressing, owe loyalty and obedience to the hierarchy. (He wisely stops short of calling the bishops and "the full range of Catholic theologians" they have at their disposal, our "betters".)
I think we can assume that change, if it comes, would come from the synod, a body of duly ordained bishops at a meeting duly convoked by a duly elected pope. It is a body, moreover, that has at its disposal the full range of Catholic theologians and theological opinion on a world-wide basis. I think we can assume that, influential though the reigning pope always is in such situations, Francis neither wants to nor is able to force his agenda (whatever that might be!) on the members of the synod....
While the synod is in session as a body of bishops working collegially with the pope to take measures for the good of the church, it is a binding and authoritative teaching organ in the church. Do not all orthodox Catholics believe that that authority is to be accepted over their own personal fears, expectations and hopes?
Do not all orthodox Catholics believe that that authority is most certainly to be accepted over the objections of “a minority—sometimes a small minority,” as [the layman] describes himself and his fellow-travelers? This minority self-identifies as orthodox and, it seems, potentially more orthodox than the synod. But it is a self-identification without credentials to validate the claim.
This is a relief, from a magazine that has featured another theologian-priest who once rhetorically asked, (but not in their pages, I hasten to add,) Does obedience to the bishops mean that priests must be complicit in something they are convinced is pastorally wrongheaded? and then pretty much answered, no.

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