One More Reason the Media Doesn’t Get It
The Standard Media Template for Clergy/Laity relations in the Catholic Church is Evil Empire vs. Plucky Rebel Alliance. The reality is that the Second Vatican Council (that’d be the bishops for those of you sounding out the words on the monitor in the CNN newsroom) are in fact urging lay people to take up their call to live out the gospel full-throatedly:
“Since, in our own times, new problems are arising and very serious errors are circulating which tend to undermine the foundations of religion, the moral order, and human society itself, this sacred synod earnestly exhorts laymen – each according to his own gifts of intelligence and learning – to be more diligent in doing what they can to explain, defend, and properly apply Christian principles to the problems of our era in accordance with the mind of the Church.”
Vatican II, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Number 6, paragraph 4.
November 18, 1965
As the date on this document makes clear, this is not a new development. Of course, the rank clericalism which some of the bishops have shown in precipitating the Current Situation goes to show that either a) bishops can be dumber on their own than they are in council or b) the Holy Spirit really does guide the Church in council and in union with Peter. Come to think of it, that may not be an either/or proposition.
At any rate, the actual teaching of the Church is not “Clergy to Laity: Shut up and Knuckle Under”. Nor is it “Laity!: Hurl the Pews at the Pulpit and Seize Power for Yourselves!”. It is “His gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.” The flake who said this was a guy named the apostle Paul. He remains 2000 years ahead of the clever people in newsrooms who think the universe is only explicable in terms of eternal conflict between race, gender, and class.