The spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church, John Paul II, passed away on April 2 after a long and extensive reign. Every news station had special programming honoring the man, including a one-hour ABC special that aired the night he died. Not all of this was praiseworthy, mind you. After some sort of brief commemoration, each of the programs delved into a “next pope guessing game.” In these “debates,” liberal theologians, non-Catholics and a smorgasbord of wholly unqualified academics declared that the successor of John Paul II must modernize the Church and introduce more democratic procedures. At the helm of this was heretic-turned-“expert,” ex-New York Governor Mario Cuomo.
Obviously, each of these commentators has never picked up either the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” or a history book. If they had, then they would not have been spewing forth line after line of uninformed hogwash. The Catholic Church is not a democracy – it would be impossible. From the bestowing of the keys of the Church in the hands of Saint Peter, the Church has been a monarchy of the greatest sort. It has had a successful, elaborate hierarchy of offices, from the laity all the way up to the Chair of Peter. Each office is well-defined and necessary to ensure accountability, administrative efficiency and, most importantly, a strong and unmovable faith all the way up the chain. Yes, it is true that throughout history there have been chinks in this chain, but for nearly two millennia, things have worked out just fine.
Even supposing the Church could be a democracy, is this advisable? Certainly not! Let us consider what democracy means. In this nation, we go to the polls on Election Day and elect our president for four-year terms. Does our choice reflect any sure sense of truth? Are we sure our guy is right? No. We simply use our faculties, perform a decision calculus and come up with our best choice possible. Imagine if the Church made moral decisions this way. Should the decision of whether murder is mortal sin be left up to a vote? The Church was entrusted to Peter by Christ to shepherd the flock, not to poll it. When Saint Paul was converting the heathens of ancient Anatolia and Greece, I am sure a majority of people thought “free love,” murder and the like were just fine. In fact, historical accounts show they did. But Paul did not poll the public – he preached truth, whether they liked it or not. This is what the Church is entrusted to do, plain and simple.
One more point. Going back to the Church’s early days, there were plenty of other forms of government the founders could have chosen. There was the model of the Roman republic, the Grecian democracy, oligarchy and the like. The Holy Ghost most certainly inspired the development of the form of government that exists to this day. This has undoubtedly been a key to the resounding success and longevity of the papacy. What other regimes can claim such an impressive, long-lasting form of government and way of being? Aside from maybe some uncivilized bongo-banging tribes in Papua New Guinea, I am thinking zero.
So to all of you who live with the fake expectation of a democratic Church that will ordain women, allow contraception and totally adapt itself to the modern world, I leave you with two concluding thoughts. First, you should go and visit Saint Peter’s Square in Rome. There you will find a cross that reads in Latin, “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis.” Roughly speaking, this translates to “the cross stands as the world spins.” Thus, the Church is holy, immortal and immovable. Second, and consequently, if you do not like it, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. John Paul II, Requiescat in Pace.
Ramey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.