pondering a more centralized church

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Pope Francis is promoting a more centralized church. In my latest PM article, I ponder the good and the bad of giving bishops more power.

A decentralized church is not always a good thing. What if your local church is ruled by iron-handed episcopal edicts, focused on creating a purer church? What if your bishop spends more time delivering judgmental diatribes than compassionate messages of gospel love and hope? Would you want your bishop to have even more decision-making power in your diocese?

Read more here, at the Prairie Messenger.

7 thoughts on “pondering a more centralized church

  1. Thanks Isabella for a thoughtful and perhaps courageous article. It seems to me that bishops are called to have “listening hearts” to ALL the laity, function in a “dialogic fashion” and adopt the spirit of our good shepherd, Francis. Me thinks it is only the power of love that overcomes the love of power. Keep writing!

  2. READ CH 37 LUMEN GENTIUM. IT IS A VATICAN II ARTICLE ON THE ROLE OF THE BISHOP IN REGARDS TO THE TALENTS OF THE LAITY. I DON’T KNOW IF ANY BISHOP EVER READ IT.

    • “The pastors, indeed, should recognize and promote the dignity and responsibility of the laity in the Church. They should willingly use their prudent advice and confidently assign duties to them in the service of the Church, leaving them freedom and scope for acting. Indeed, they should give them the courage to undertake works on their own initiative. They should with paternal love consider attentively in Christ initial moves, suggestions and desires proposed by the laity.[8] Moreover the pastors must respect and recognize the liberty which belongs to all in the terrestrial city.” (LG 37)

      A truly adult, synodal church.

  3. I see your point but I also acknowledge the priority of the decentralized church. A person I respected highly spoke positively about “turbulence” as a characteristic of dialogue that brings out views, facts, exposes passion, emotion and elicits progress. This is a virtual necessity for development. It’s sorta’ like competition. It is also inevitable that some competitors will place success above morality, but without it the “evil that lurks” will not be exposed nor will the counter-position be evoked. With it the affected see the options more clearly.
    Exposure may not be the total equivalent to accountability but it is a more easily accessible goal when the responsibility is squarely laid and obvious.
    As with the Synod on the Family and the larger reaction to Pope Francis. Seeing the vehement differences between the hierarchy, it allows, even impels us to think more for ourselves.
    However, there is always the downside.

  4. Hi Dennis. I wrote this article with the recent synod in mind. Some statements by some bishops were mind boggling. Yes, it has given Francis a clear sense of who stands where in the ideological debates. And, yes, it “impels us to think more for ourselves”. My hubby always said that power must be given. I have little desire to give carte blanche power or obedience to a mitre and crozier.

    Respect must be earned, and there are priests and bishops who have my respect. The coverage on the synod (and the current USCCB meeting) lessens my respect for the hierarchy as a whole.

  5. I suspect that is an element of Francis approach: let them stand and be counted. Not that he wants respect to be diminished but rather, as you suggest, that it be earned. It is also, to my mind, a message about the kind of respect: as pastors. Your metaphor re the mitre and crozier is really apt.

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