Question on Church authority (and problems with it)


Ok, so I’m posting this over here for a reason – if the moderators would be so kind as to humor me this time? I would have posted on the liturgy and sacrements page, but have found even asking questions over there can get one accused of being a non-believer…so here I am.

I understand why people have issues with certain things that have been deemed “ok” by the higher-up levels of the Church. That being said, these things have been deemed ok by those appointed (directly or indirectly – I am making the assumption that those who wrote the GIRM were approved by His Holiness to do so? I don’t know for sure, just guessing, and yep, I have a lot to learn) by the Pope,who is infallable, no? So if the Pope has said (thru his cardinals and bishops and priests) that “xyz” is ok, how come people get so darn…well, uncharitable towards those who say “the Pope said it’s ok, so I’m going to do it” – how come they can’t just say “I don’t like it, but he Pope has said it’s ok, so I have to trust in his Divine wisdom and knowledge of what is best for the Church” Are we not supposed to accept what comes from the vatican as the “law of the land” so to speak? These are the same people I find complaining about cafeteria catholics who pick and choose what to follow – are they not doing the same thing in a way by condemning those who follow the newer rulings vs. sticking with the older more traditional ones that were overruled (again, for lack of a better word). They’re hollering about he new rules the same way others holler about the old ones…

I can definitely see if a priest is breaking a rule, making a mass ilicit or invalid…sure. BUt if he is just following the GIRM (allowing lay people to assist where he feels necessary) I guess I just kind of feel like people are so completely freaked out by things the people we are called to “obey” have ruled on…

teach me, if I need it, but don’t beat on me for not knowing…



My own thoughts on this subject are that people come in with various personality types. And they have certain inborn senses of ‘formality’ and ‘informality’ and ‘rigidity’ and ‘flexibility’. And they are raised in families and external social structures that give emphasis to these ‘qualities’ in different ways.

This it probably not something that applies strictly to the way they look at liturgy. It shows up in the way people dress for various social events. It affects the way people gather for holidays. It shows in the way they handle social courtesies. Some people are naturally very neat. Others tend to be ‘slobs’. Some people like quiet intimate settings. Others like large noisy crowds.

For instance, my husband was raised to believe that all books should be treated with ‘reverence’, even a junk paperback. He is practically horrified if a cover gets torn or the pages start falling out. I see a book as just a book. They get worn out. I was raised to believe that one always dresses in an extra special way for holidays (even if that only means putting on a Christmas sweatshirt). My husband thinks clothes are clothes. Anything that’s not inappropriate is good enough.

Have you ever gone to see a movie made from a book you’ve read? Some people are horrified at any change from the book. Other people would say if the change makes for a better movie then why not?

These sorts of attitudes show up in the way people like to see the Mass celebrated.


I didn’t see your other thread, so I am guessing that all this has to do with EMHCs? Yes? And how the presiding priest uses them to distribute Holy Communion?

Yes, our priests and deacons are to follow the GIRM, and there is a lot of wiggle room as to how they may do that. However, if a priest is just sitting it out while he has the EMHCs do all the distributing, then he is not doing his part as the primary distributor of Holy Communion. Or if he needlessly uses them in a small group setting in which their services are truly redundant. The GIRM speaks to these issues, as well. So, when a priest ignores that part of the GIRM on his own authority he isn’t actually following the directives but violating them.

Now, having said all that, I don’t let such things get to me unless I see an egregious abuse, that I have witnessed at a local parish, such as allowing the EMHCs lift up the consecrated hosts and cup along with the priest at the elevation, which is strictly a priestly function not to be done by lay people.

And no, not everything the pope says is infallible and must be obeyed. :slight_smile: Only those pronouncements that are declared “ex cathedra” are considered infallible. The directives of the GIRM are disciplinary only and so may be changed as needed or allowed by authority of the bishops in union with the pope.


Wow leaner!! I was just perusing the “Liturgy & Sacraments” subforum----sheesh! I can not believe how you were “attacked” regarding your “first time as EME” post. I can see where you are coming from now. You know, I consider myself more of a “traditional” type Catholic. I’ve homeschooled and done Catholic school in the past with my kids. I have noticed that there really is an element within the Church that just seems angry all of the time. Angry over the music, angry over “changes” they don’t like, complaining about priests etc. etc. I prefer a more “reverent” Mass with Catholic hymns, no hand holding, kneeling/bowing at the “right” times, etc. However, I also know that many, many Catholics simply have not been catechized the same way that others have been. It’s better to be more charitable at Mass than to get angry and pick apart every person who “receives in the hand” or doesn’t bow at the name of Jesus or dresses immodestly or lets their kids play with toys. I came to these forums to learn my Faith better, and it seems you have too.

Just wanted to say I’m sorry that you got your joyful post ripped apart by some people. Congratulations on your first EME gig. I’ll bet you did a fine job and were very “reverent” and “respectful” too.:thumbsup:


I was going to write you an “atta girl” this evening in a PM, but Gianna beat me to it publically. There are people on both sides of the issue who can’t see when a person is doing something, being part of the solution instead of the problem (which you are, a solution, a very noble one).

And you know what? Sometimes in certain forums, even in blogs or commercial ISP message boards, people get carried away. They forget that they are represented by those little black-on-white dots, and that they might come off looking like a stereotype- and sometimes, no matter what one “says” to these folks, it’s going to appear as if the Spanish Inquisition has arrived without the comfy chairs (old Monty Python bit). They forget to try to soften the type, either through fonts and pitches, or through softer tones and words.

Well then- let me pop over to Liturgy.


Ultimately, human beings tend to like things to be their own preferred way; fitting whatever else is necessary (including the faith and expressions thereof) into that with a shoehorn. Then they’ll just find an argument to try and best justify their opinion as the ideal against which all others must defend themselves.

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