19 October 2008

Oh, for days long since past...

From the old Catholic Catechism (1913):
There remains to speak of the duties and rights of the laity towards the ecclesiastical authority as such, in matters foreign to the sacred ministry. The duties, which affect both laity and clergy, consist in submission and obedience to legitimate hierarchical authority: the pope, the bishops, and, in a proportionate degree, the parish priests and other acting ecclesiastics.
Since the laity is distinct from the clergy, and since Divine worship, doctrinal teaching, and ecclesiastical government are reserved, at least in essentials, to the latter, it follows that the former may not interfere in purely clerical offices; they can participate only in a secondary and accessory manner, and that in virtue of a more or less explicit authorization. Any other interference would be an unlawful and guilty usurpation, punishable at times with censures and penalties. We will apply this principle now to matters of worship, teaching, and government or administration.

The body of the faithful is strictly speaking the Ecclesia docta (the Church taught), in contrast with the Ecclesia docens (the teaching Church), which consists of the pope and the bishops. When there is question, therefore, of the official teaching of religious doctrine, the laity is neither competent nor authorized to speak in the name of God and the Church.
You've got the modernists on the one side, who think nothing of disobeying the most fundamental teachings of the Church (and who would laugh at the above directive), and the radtrads on the other, who are so holy they arrogate to themselves the right to publicly criticize all clergy who do not conform to their pre-Vatican II notions. (The most egregious examples involve denigration of our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II, who had more courage and charity in his pinky finger than all these self-righteous radtrads combined--and yes, I know he kissed the Koran and invited a shaman to the World Day of Prayer and received a third eye by a shiva and didn't stomp out pedophilia in the Church as swiftly as they wish; I know all these things, interpret them in the most charitable light possible (without necessarily rationalizing them), and can still grasp that his life and his pontificate were marked by incredible courage, sacrifice, heroism, suffering, and holiness).