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Crisis of Authority
The Current Crisis of Authority in the Church
Fri April 20 2018  10:40amFaith/Philosophy

The previous article noted the difference between God-given authority and contrived human authority, and noted that the natural God-given authority of a husband, a mother, a pastor must be honored, both by those subject to the authority and by the one wielding it.

The Family


The most basic form of God-given authority is that of the natural family. The authority therein moves in a sort of chain of command: originating in God, flowing through the husband to his wife, and from both to their children.

I want to stress that the family is the most basic of all human authority, the beginning of all human governance, the very foundation of civilization. Period. Full stop. End of paragraph.

Is such authority absolute? Of course not. Naturally, authority given by God is subject to God. The husband, for example, may not tell his wife to do something contrary to the moral Law of God. If he does, his authority in that case is invalid, and the wife may have to disobey her husband so as to remain obedient to the higher authority of God.

One more point: The chain of command is a matter of order, not of superiority or inferiority. God is, of course, the Supreme Being. But the husband is not a superior being to his wife, nor are Mom and Dad superior to their kids. To rule does not necessarily mean true superiority; to obey does not mean inferiority. (This becomes theologically important in the next section, with regard to God the Father and God the Son.)

The Church

God the

Chronologically later and of secondary importance is the ecclesiastic authority established by Christ. As above, there is a definite chain of command here. (Contrary to Martin Luther's Sola Scriptura doctrine, the Church built upon the foundation of apostolic authority is the true teacher and interpreter of Scripture, not vice-versa.)

As above, the human players in this chain of command are not autonomous, but are always subject to higher authority. Catholic pastors have an obligation to teach the Truth of Christ as handed down through the apostles. They may not change the teachings of the Church; that's not how apostolic authority works. Still less can they presume to second guess the older, more basic, more natural and more sacred authority of the family, nor redesign the structure thereof. And yet, that is precisely what many - perhaps most - bishops are wanting to do today: arrogate to themselves clerical power to grant ecclesiastic permission for easy annulments, divorce and re-marriage, contraception, even same-sex unions.

The Crisis

Beginning over 8 years ago, I began to acknowledge this crisis of Catholic authority: namely, the bishops' collective failure to remain true to Catholic teaching. Even wrote a few articles in my old Blogspot blog on that theme [1][2], culminating in an April 2015 article in which I puzzled over the apparent defection of Catholic hierarchy.

As mentioned above, a crisis of authority may arise in the family if the husband departs from his rightful God-given role. At what point does the father's failure amount to complete abdication and desertion of his duties? Is that what divorce means? Similarly, at what point does a pastor's apostasy amount to abdication and desertion? At what point does a massive, collective clerical desertion spell the end of Catholic unity? Have we reached that point?

Suffice it to say I am still puzzling over how we've arrived at this crisis, and what, if anything, to do about it. Perhaps these past couple blog posts have been my attempt to sort things out in my own mind by putting my thoughts into writing. Probably more blog articles to follow.

rev. Mar 21 2021  8:46am
previous article: Theocracy


Lenore Apr 22 2018  10:02am
All Godgiven authority should always be used in service and never to dominate. Of course, in Love as God so loved us.
Jerry Apr 24 2018  5:37pm
You're echoing the message we've been hearing over and over for 30-40 years. Trouble is, it's just an excuse for evading responsibility. Ironically, pastors are increasingly afraid to exercise true authority, while government bureaucrats have no qualms about exercising their false authority.
Lenore Apr 25 2018  3:27pm
i do hear the Gospel preached here. Even on Good Shepherd Sunday, i actually heard that we must heed the Shepherd's call or else we could go to Hell; surprized to hear that word from the pulpit. Was waiting for a word on mortal sin which takes away our Grace but guess it wasn't the time. We do hear much on the Sacrament of Confession which all Catholics should seek for that Grace we need in this world. i heard that beautiful statement about using our God-given authority in love and service to God's children. It was spoken of in contents of a husband and wife who have different gifts. He spoke of when the children disobey it is the father's role to set the children on the right path while the mother is more the heart of the home and the father and mother serve God by raising their children in love. you also believe this and so does Saint John Paul II. i love you, Honey and thought your blog was right on and wish many in the Body of Christ could read your wisdom.

Love, Lenore
Jerry Apr 27 2018  8:49am
Am truly surprised and heartened to hear that a Catholic pastor actually spoke of Hell. And that it is the father's role in the family to discipline his children. That is, it is a father's and husband's role to dominate, in love. The root 'dominus' means 'lord', and to exercise God-given authority is to share in the lordship of the Good Shepherd. Sounds like your pastor was doing his job.

The law will never make men free; it is men who have got to make the law free.
- Henry David Thoreau

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