Vol. 11 No. 8 / 9 AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 1997
Editorial - 'It shall not be so among you'
Is there a neat and tidy way of describing the Pope's power? After just completing a general history of the papacy, Saints and Sinners (Yale University Press 1997), Eamon Duffy, reader in church history in the University of Cambridge doubts whether easy answers can be found. Here he traces the evolution of papal authority through history and concludes that such authority is both dangerous and irreplaceable. Such a paradox results because 'history is tangled, messy, contradictory'.
Listening to the disinherited
Do we need new models for the exercise of authority? Mary Grey, who is professor of theology at LSU College in Southampton and author of a forthcoming book Beyond the dark night asks whether authority would work better if it was based on on inclusivity and empowerment. 'Giving back to the poor communities the authority of their own voice is recovering the reality of envangelical mutual empowerment.'
What does the New Testament say?
Edmund Hill OP
Edmund Hill, an English Dominican and author of Ministry and Authority in the Catholic Church looks at some New Testament texts and shows how the authority of the Church at large, of all the faithful, must be respected and acknowledged by all those 'placed by Christ in positions of leadership and authority over them, Peter, the apostles and their successors' and what some of the implications of this might be.
Recovering the ancient tradition
What can the early Church teach us about the exercise of authority? Robert Markus, professor emeritus of history at Nottingham University, shows how one model of authority based on service and seen in the life of Gregory the Great was partially replaced by the model of Gregory VII who wanted 'to order the bishops around as if they were bailiffs on his estates'.
The content of power
Mary Ann Johnston
Sister Mary Ann Johnston has served on the United States Catholic Conference Committee for implementation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and is a former President of the National Conference of Diocesan Directors of Religious Education. Here she explores faith as the source of power in catechesis, 'What we do and how we do it needs to be diverse,...have its roots in the faith'.
Tensions, use and abuse
The Church's use of power has proved controversial in several contemporary issues. David McLoughlin, priest of the Archdiocese of Birmingham and professor of theology at Oscott College, looks at four kinds of power and assesses the Church's actions in the light of these.
Michael Hornsby-Smith, professor of sociology at the University of Surrey and co-author of The Politics of Spirituality, examines the way legitimacy is achieved in the local Church and concludes that 'those priests who exercise most authority are humble enough to suffer with their parishoners, listen and dialogue with them, and empower them to engage as collaborators in collective decision-making'.
Hierarchies, motherhood and power
Hierarchies are suspect because they seem to monopolise power. Christine Fletcher, our assistant editor, a mother of four children and till recently employed as a consultant to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, argues for an understanding of hierarchy and power which is built on the mother-child relationship. 'This puts primacy on people not on things, on caring not consuming, on being not doing.'
Authority in the parish
How does authority operate at the parish level? Often it is quite autocratic. Paul Hypher, who is parish priest in Newmarket in the diocese of East Anglia, makes a case for another way. 'If we are to free lay people to carry responsibility for the Church and the world, we need co-operative participatory and consultative models of accountability and authority.'
Looking at power in Africa
How much does culture affect the exercise of power and authority in the Church? Robert Kaggwa, who is a Ugandan, and a member of the Society of Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers), lectures in systematic theology at the Missionary Institute in London. Here he looks at the African situation and suggests how small communities may be the 'means of resolving the tensions which arise from the power and authority structures of the institutional Church in Africa'.
In the Catholic tradition: St Thérèse of Lisieux
St Thérèse died 30 September 1897. John Udris, who is parish priest of St Teresa's, Beaconsfield, Bucks, guides us in the search for the real Thérèse as the Church celebrates the centenary of this great saint who was 'an uncompromising advocate and apostle of everything that is true'.
Preaching and teaching the word
Hubert and Clare Richards
Hubert and Clare Richards, both well-known teachers and writers on scripture offer some reflections on the lectionary readings for the Sundays of September and October.
Postscript: A sense of proportion
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