In the Christian understanding, exercise of authority is always mutual. Authority is given within the body, for the body, but it can never supplant the authority of the members of the body either in their own areas of responsibility OR for the responsibility of the one for the whole:
When, as AK and Mark allude to, we minimize sexual misconduct by clergy, and/or ignore or minimize the needs of victims, we have failed to exercise authority in a Christ pleasing manner. The problem, as I see it, is less that a monastery offers hospitality to a defrocked priest but more if no one in the Church offers hospitality to those who suffered the consequences of the misconduct that lead to the priest's removal from the ranks of the clergy.
Likewise, we must be critical of the exercise of authority that has as its goal the "reputation" of the Church if good opinion of others comes at the expense of those who were harmed. Paul is not indifferent to how those of good heart outside the Church view the Church. Indeed, this is part of why he dismisses from fellowship the incestuous couple and requires that the use of tongues be limited within the assembly.
I will conclude these reflects tomorrow by arguing that, paradoxical thought it may seem, in the Church we must exercise authority is such a way that we bear the contempt of the world precisely for the life of the world.
+Fr Gregory Print this post