True and False Democracy in the Catholic Church

One of the assumptions that seems to animate so many of the conversations surrounding a more synodal Church is that a more “democratized” Catholic Church is by definition a better Church. To that end, we saw in last year’s Synod on Synodality that there was a lot of chatter about a Church that listens to “the people of God.” And those two concepts — a democratized Church and the Church as the people of God — were often conflated to mean almost the same thing.

I think that this conflation is incorrect and that the “people of God” metaphor, used in Lumen Gentium, when properly understood not only does not endorse a more democratic Church but actually implies the opposite.

Whenever I saw the “people of God” metaphor referenced in the lead-up to the first part of the Synod on Synodality, I was reminded of the words of the character Indigo Montoya in the movie The Princess Bride: “You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it does.” Indeed, the synodal leaders resurrected a long-dead interpretation of the people of God metaphor, popular among liberal theologians in the ’70s, to denote the laity as opposed to the hierarchy, with that mistake compounded by a related one, where a distinction was made between “the institutional Church” (a tiresome and oppressive oligarchy of old celibate men) and “the Church of the people” (a liberating wonderland of “real people”).

Continue reading at National Catholic Register
 

Share