Wednesday, September 28, 2011
IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH A DICTATORSHIP?
Given our American sensibilities about democracy and the like, can an American Catholic honestly accept the Catholic Church's hierarchical model of leadership that when abused could become a form of dictatorship? Is the pope a dictator? Is your local bishop a dictator? Is your pastor or priest a dictator?
Well, there is a little dictator in all of us isn't there? Will you have to have Obamacare? Can you talk your way out of a felony? If you're a parent, are you sometimes dictator-like to disobedient children?
But a dictator takes an authority that isn't his. Stalin was a brutal dictator as was Hitler. South and Central America have had their little twerp dictators and have injured and killed many in their path and dispossessed many others.
But is the pope a dictator? When he declares a doctrine to be infallible or a part of the infallible ordinary Magisterium of the Church, such as the fact the Church has no authority, nor does the pope, to allow for the ordination of women, is that being a dictator?
When the pope orders that the English translation of the Mass be corrected using the model of a literal rather than an equivalency method of translating the original Latin, is he a dictator? And when he orders that the new, corrected translation be in place by the First Sunday of Advent, or at least the Bishops of a particular country, is that a dictatorship?
No none of that is dictatorial, but all of it is authoritative. And therein lies the fine difference between dictatorships which are authoritarian and illegitimate and leadership which in the Catholic tradition of hierarchy is authoritative and has a legitimacy that comes from God. "Authoritarianism" and "authoritativeness" are two different realities.
In the ranks of the clergy, many priests and some bishops, there is a hatred for authority, what can be called an "authority" complex. Usually it is result of childhood traumas unresolved in adulthood dealing with authority figures, like fathers or mothers, policemen or teachers or a principal, nun or brother, priest or bishop or other such sort of meany.
Some of the most unresolved authority based issues of some priests and other adults are people who are the most authoritarian, reactive and dictatorial. Don't ever cross them or you'll be sorry.
That brings us to liturgical theologians of the past 45 years. While there are and have been many good ones, unfortunately the most dictatorial have held sway in the Church for over the past 45 years. Their vision of the Church and the liturgy is one that is a total rupture with the past or the pre-Vatican II image of Church and Liturgy as well as authority.
They desire homespun, congregational approaches to liturgy where there is an egalitarianism and no distinction between ordained and laity. Of course this is a false egalitarianism and often leads to those who have no real authority taking authority to fill in for the vacuum that is created when no one actually is the leader. The danger of dictatorship looms greatly in these false egalitarian communities and usually it is the "community or committee" that becomes a multi-faced dictatorship.
Our bishops who for the most part are not liturgists or musicians have listened obediently to these liturgical theologians and have allowed them not only to dismantle the liturgy that was desired by Vatican II and turned it into a mere ghost of what could have been, but they have also allowed them to dismantle and whitewash countless cathedrals and churches throughout the world in a neo-iconoclasm that would make the Puritans blush not to mention the true iconoclast of over 1000 years ago that helped lead to schism in the Church.
There is much truth in the old question, "What is the difference between a terrorist and a liturgist?" "You can negotiate with a terrorist!" Think about the disobedient clergy in Austria and those who are following them. Who's the dictator there?
Don't mess with a liturgist or anyone who considers themselves to be the elite in the world of Church academia looking down their noses at those who are of the lower class. If you want to see dictatorships and neo-clericalism in action go to liberal Catholic Universities and speak to their Catholic faculty, clergy or lay.
Give me Rome's authority and the Hermeneutic of Continuity that Pope Benedict emphasizes so eloquently. Give me the Hermeneutic of rupture when it comes to post-Vatican II babel about authority, liturgy and what constitutes being "Church." Rupture is not always bad if it gives rebirth to what is good, beautiful and holy within our Tradition.