The American Catholic Council, an organization of liberal-minded Catholics, recently met to protest the lack of dialog between parishioners and the Holy See. High on their list of grievances is the “absolutist” structure of the Catholic hierarchy.
While I appreciate the general spirit of the Council’s objections, they do come across as a rearrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic. The Catholic Church is, at it’s very core, a patriarchal, totalitarian organization. For it to move away from this structure would be to shed a fundamental part of its identity.
There is also considerable irony in the Council’s objections to absolutism: even if they convince the Holy See to listen to its parishioners and soften its dictatorial tendencies, the church would still be left worshiping God, the biggest and most powerful absolutist of all, by the church’s own account. (Perhaps the council should be redirecting its ire?)
Instead of trying to patch up an old, creaking institution, the members of the American Catholic Council would be better served by letting it crumble into dust.