instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, April 19, 2010

God indeed hath set some in the church

It's often said, "The Church is not a democracy," when disputes arise over the Church's moral teachings.

That's true enough, but there's another, perhaps more fundamental, sense in which the Church is not a democracy: The source of authority in the Church is not the consent of the governed.

And thank God for that. If the Church's authority rested in the Church's members, then the Church would be a merely human institution.

Is it possible that, on the whole, non-Catholics understand this better than Catholics?

For the most part, non-Catholics don't think authority in the Church comes from God. They may not believe in God, in which case authority couldn't come from Him. They may not believe in Christ, in which case whatever authority God might give wouldn't be given to the Church. They may not believe in the indefectability of the Church, in which case either authority was never given the Church or it was lost at some point along the way.

I wonder, though, whether there might be a significant number of Catholics who don't think authority in the Church comes from God, except perhaps in some remote sense.

This would be bad. It's not a "liberal Catholic" or "progressive Catholic" or "American Catholic" position; it's a position that is radically contrary to the Catholic faith. To the extent it is advanced from within the Church, it causes scandal and lasting damage to the Church and to her mission of preaching Christ to the world.