Goodbye Father: The Celibate Male Priesthood and the Future of the Catholic Church

By Richard A. Schoenherr; David Yamane | Go to book overview

9
HIERARCHY AND HIEROPHANY

Take this, all of you, and eat it: This is my body. Take this, all of you, and drink from it: This is the cup of my blood. Do this in memory of me.

Roman Catholic Mass

The Catholic lay movement and Catholic liturgical movement, the sixth and seventh trends in the matrix, draw their dynamism from the conflict between hierarchic and hierophanic power in religious groups. Introduced in chapter 5, this is the culminating paradox that recapitulates all the tensions impinging on Catholic ministry. Thus, the countervailing powers of hierarchy and hierophany are bound up with the tension between the forces of unity and diversity and the tension between the forces of immanence and transcendence. The decline in the priesthood population brings these tensions to a head. As this decline continues, it acts as an catalyst provoking a series of far-reaching changes, most notably the loss of the sacrificial focus of the Mass.


The Lay Movement and the Liturgical Movement

The lay movement reflects the dynamic tension between clergy and laity produced by the Catholic Church's division of labor. One pole of the dialectic is charged with clerical power arising from the sacrament of Holy Orders; the other involves lay empowerment stemming from the sacrament of baptism. Decline in the priestly monopoly over ministry and growth in the ministerial prerogatives of the layperson are the opposing forces affected by the lay movement. The dialectic in the liturgical movement reflects the tension between sacrament and scripture in Catholic worship. The sacramental side of the dialectic gains its dynamism from the power of ritual and the scriptural side from the power of the written word. Decline in the Catholic Counter-Reformation emphasis on sacrament, especially the eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass, and growth in the Protestant emphasis on the biblical Word are the opposing forces affected by the liturgical movement. Both sets of dialectical forces lie at the very core of our sociological problem: the primal tension between hierarchy and hierophany in organized religion. The conflict between clericalism and laicism flows primarily

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