Joe Fitzpatrick

Authority and decision-making in the Church belong to all the baptised, not just the ecclesial hierarchy, writes Joe Fitzpatrick, a retired priest of the Diocese of Motherwell.

priesthood and power

If asked the simple question: where do power and authority lie in the Catholic Church today?, most of us would answer with complete confidence: with the Pope, the Roman Curia, with national conferences of bishops and finally with individual bishops. The power exercised by priests tends to be limited - to parish life and worship, and that kind of thing. And what about the laity? No. The laity have little or no power; they are encouraged to pray, evangelise and lead good lives, but they are there to be instructed and to obey those who exercise power. It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that the laity are disempowered and, in many cases, infantilised.

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