While there have been some good responses, in main the Church's response to misconduct in the Church, has suggests to me a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of public authority as given for the common good. Paul, ever the clear eyed commentator of all things human and divine, puts the matter directly: authority is "appointed by God" (Rms 12.1) not as a terror "to good works, but to evil." (v. 3) Granted Paul is speaking in this passage of civil authority, but even within the Church the Apostle to the Gentiles was willing to exercise a terrible authority in the face of evil.
The same man who writes the hymn of the primacy of love among the spiritual gifts (1 Cor 13), soundly condemns the divisions in the Church (1.10-17; 3.1-3; 6.1-11), sexual immorality (5.9-12; 6.12-20), the indifference of some to the spiritual and physical needs of others in the community (8.1-9; 11.21-22), and even (implicitly to be sure) criticize his brother apostles (9.1-18). Without a hint of the embarrassment that has come to characterize the contemporary use of authority (when it is not exercised in a heavy handed manner), Paul lays down rules for worship (11.1-16; 14.6-19, 26-40) and sexual morality (7.10-40).
And when there are those among the faithful who would sacrifice the common good in the pursuit of their own self-desires?
BUT, as we will see tomorrow, the visible authority within the body does not invalidate the shared responsibility, and thus authority, of all members of the community to work for the common good of all by serving the particular good of others.
+Fr Gregory Print this post