Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Roman Catholic Churches

There are different ways the church of Rome may die:

i) Francis has been decentralizing leadership. If that trend continues, it will result in a nominal alliance of semi-autonomous national churches, where each national church sets its own policies. That's not sustainable over the long haul. Like Franklin's quip about hanging separately. 

If that happens, all roads don't lead to Rome. They don't lead anywhere in particular. The Roman Catholic Churches. 

And it destroys the raison d'être for the One True Church® if you encounter a different kind of Catholic church every time you cross the border. If each Diocese has its own policies. Catholicism is supposed to be a franchise with the standard menu. 

ii) There's the possibility of schism, but that depends in part on how schism is defined. To me, schism has connotations of a large-scale breakup. But thus far the Francis pontificate has triggered an elite crisis. Only theological junkies are following this debate. How many rank-and-file Catholics are aware or care about the disputes? Many of them seem to have a simplistic view of the papacy: the pope is the boss. His word is final. Bishops and cardinals who dissent are insubordinate. It's not supposed to be that simple on paper, but in reality it's that simple. 

iii) But we already have a precedent in mainline churches. If Rome follows that model, it will slowly bleed out. Some diehards will remain to fight a losing battle. Many Catholics will like the lax policies, although they will drift away since doctrinal indifference is reciprocated by declining attendance. Why go? 

1 comment:

  1. Lyrics by Neil Young (mostly)

    My my, hey hey
    ROMANISM IS here to stay
    It's better to burn out
    Than to fade away
    My my, hey hey.

    Out of the blue
    and into the black
    ROME gives you this,
    but you PRAY for that
    And once you're gone,
    you can never come back
    When you're out of the blue
    and into the black.

    The POPE is gone
    but he's not forgotten
    This is the story
    of a FRANK THE CON
    It's better to burn out
    than it is to rust
    The VIC is gone
    but he's not forgotten.

    Hey hey, my my
    THE HOLY SEE can never die
    There's more to the picture
    Than meets the eye.
    Hey hey, my my.