05/18/2004: And also at The Village Gate....
Allen Brill has an excellent post titled "A Call for Accountability". I'd make this a "Gem o'the Day" but for the fact that I want to post the link and make sure to call some attention to this:
The structure of the Catholic Church is characterized both by the leadership's absolute authority and also its complete lack of accountability to the laity. For all of the disappointment and concern that we mainline Protestants may experience over the divisions in our denominations, I don't believe we can imagine the frustration that dissenting Catholics must feel at their complete irrelevance as a matter of dogma. In fact, the right wing of the Catholic church argues that "dissenting Catholic" is an oxymoron since one cannot disagree with the teaching of the church hierarchy and remain a Catholic.This is, apparently, one of a set of posts by Allen on the subject. Those interested (and definitely all liberal Catholics) should read them all.
Exacerbating the threat to pluralistic democracy inherently posed by the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church is the eagerness of some in the Catholic hierarchy to return to the days when popes crowned and deposed kings. It now seems that some bishops--with the apparent support of Rome--feel it is not sufficient to voice the "official" teaching of the church but that it is also necessary and appropriate to threaten duly-elected representatives of the people and the people themselves with excommunication if their votes do not conform to the views of the hierarchy.
The Catholic Church did much in the ensuing 500 years to correct these abuses culminating with the progress made in Vatican II. But the Roman church has turned in the past 20 years back toward some of the medieval practices and doctrines that provoked the first Reformation. It is a tragedy that has hindered Christendom's hopes for unity and the church's efforts to adapt successfully to the challenges of modernity. The outsider must observe that the polity of the church remains essentially what it was 500 years ago. There is essentially no accountability to the laity. Through the appointment of bishops and cardinals, one pope can influence the direction of the Catholic church for decades after his death. If Catholics hope to have any say about what happens to abusive priests or how their church conducts itself in the public square, it will take another church council that radically reforms the way the Roman Catholic Church governs itself.
Len on 05.18.04 @ 01:19 PM CST