Democracy in the Catholic Church
CHRIST AND NEIGHBOR
From top to bottom the Catholic Church is having growing pains. That may seem an inappropriate phrase — “growing pains” — regarding an institution that is nearly 2,000 years old. Thank God, however, the Church is still growing, both in quantity and quality — not everywhere, maybe not in your parish or diocese, but overall and worldwide, yes.
One aspect of that growth is the effort to adjust herself to those values and aspects of democratic process that can be legitimately applied to an institution that in certain major areas does not function by majority vote, but by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and some reliance on the more heavily weighted votes of popes, bishops, and priests.
But being a wise old mother, the Church realizes that in the current stage of human development — or if you don’t like that term, just plain history — the monarchical form of government has lost credibility. The same can be said for those dictatorial forms that have been devised to replace it. Even the Soviet Union, the most successful dictatorship of modern times, has begun to appreciate this fact.
So today it might almost be said that it is a question of “go democratic or die.” And, whether for that or more complicated reasons, the Church is going more democratic. And feeling pain.
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