Why Catholicism is not a Democracy


I listened to Ave Maria radio on my drive home from work the other day and had a chance to listen to a replay of a talk given by Al Kresta, host of “Kresta in the Afternoon.”  His talk is titled “The History of Dissent in the Catholic Church” and he takes a very high level view of progressive groups like the American Catholic Council and their misguided attempts to change the Church by making it behave more like democratic government.  I’m going to dive in with some of the highlights I took from his talk as well as show its relevance to the rosary.

Kresta talks about various “constitutions” and “bill of rights” that the American Catholic Council has drafted over the years.  Their demands range from changing dogma on social issues such as abortion, contraception, and homosexuality to how they believe the Church should govern itself.  In summary, they basically want the Church to function like a democracy where the faithful elect Church leaders and can vote for changes to the Church’s moral dogma.  At face value this seems like a great idea.  After all, who doesn’t like democracy?  Democratic nations are usually the freest, happiest, safest, and most prosperous places on the planet.  So wouldn’t a more democratic Catholic Church be a better one?

The answer is no, it would not.  Jesus’ teachings, God’s will, and the basis for all morality cannot be subject to opinion polls, campaign slogans, and popular elections.  For example, something like abortion cannot go from an intrinsic evil to morally acceptable because it wins a vote.  Imagine a faith where your morality and state of grace could flip-flop with every election?  One day you’re in a state of grace and the next day you’re in a state of mortal sin.  Does that sound reasonable to you?  This is moral relativism at its worst.  You just can’t take Jesus Christ and reduce Him to just someone who came up with a bunch of well-meaning ideas that are now outdated and need changing.  Nor can a group of popularly elected “scholars” take it upon themselves to improve on God’s will because they feel it really doesn’t reflect the modern Catholic.  To put it another way, the Church makes “laws” based on moral truths.  You cannot reverse the process and change moral truths because you pass a law.

c. 1459

When we pray the rosary, we should remember the Fourth Luminous Mystery — The Transfiguration.  Here we see the power and majesty of Jesus Christ as God Made Man.  Jesus was not just a man who was trying to interpret God’s Word, but was the Word Made Flesh.  What Jesus taught was not opinion, but Truth.  And that truth remains the same and isn’t something that huamans can change to fit with societal norms.  We also recall the Third Joyful Mystery — The Nativity of Christ.  We meditate that God does not interact in this world on our terms, but His.  While many would have liked Jesus to be a political leader of high stature, He was not.  Jesus was born in a stable and grew up to become a simple carpenter because that was God’s plan.  We should pray that we accept Jesus and His Church for what it is and not try to shape it to our human whims.

Finally, we should pray for those who do find the Catholic Church and God’s will so difficult to live up to that they instead want to change it to suit their desires.  We pray that they allow the Holy Spirit into their hearts, as the apostles did on Pentecost, and go out and face life’s moral challenges instead of fruitlessly trying to redefine morality.  Our Mother Mary has said many times and in many ways that the sooner you stop fighting God, the sooner you can embrace the joy and happiness of His grace.

I highly recommend listening to Al Kresta’s “History of Dissent.”  You can listen to it online (link below) or download it do any portable device.  Do what I did and listen to it in your car.  It makes for a good commute.

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