Why am I a Catholic? It’s all about authority. The Pope. The Chair of Peter.
If you are looking for an authority to help decide the crucial questions what criteria would you set for that authority? There are fourteen things you would look for, which come in seven pairs.
- The authority would be historical – rooted in history and looking to history to advise on present day decisions. We’re talking 2,000 year old history, then back some through the Jews.
- The authority would also be current – it is not ossified. It is able to be flexible and responsive to current needs. Here comes Papa on his own airplane talking about in vitro fertilization
- Universal – the authority transcends fashions in time and place. Catholic Truth is well…Catholic.
- Local – while it is universal, it can be found in real time applied at the local level. The Church is not just the Vatican–it’s St Hilda’s around the corner with Fr. Magee.
- Objective – it is rooted in history, facts and discoverable truth, not opinion or subjective sentiment. Bye bye rubbery relativism.
- Applicable –While objective it can be applied to subjective, personal needs. We can be flexible. There are some loopholes.
- Intellectually Fit – It has to sit at the top table with all the best minds in all the intellectual disciplines. Thomas Aquinas to the witness stand.
- Humble – It has to be understood by peasants and children. Joseph of Cupertino to the stand.
- Culturally Fit – It has to exhibit (or at least try to) the highest of all the art forms for expression: Michaelangelo, Murillo, Chartres, Tolkien, Mozart etc etc etc.
- Common – Though high brow, it can’t alienate peasants and common folk: infant of prague, tacky statues, holy water bottles of the Blessed Mother with the crown that unscrews…
- Visible – It can’t be just a theory. You have to be able to identify this authority
- Invisible – the authority has to be totally theoretical and transcendent in it’s essence
- Human – It has to be believably human and ordinary. No golden tablets from angels please
- Divine – While human, this authority’s origins and essence must be from the Lord above.
Here’s the full article I wrote for This Rock magazine last year