Was the Church Too Democratic? Councils, Collegiality and the Church's Future

By Bellitto, Christopher M. | The Catholic Historical Review, July 2004 | Go to article overview

Was the Church Too Democratic? Councils, Collegiality and the Church's Future


Bellitto, Christopher M., The Catholic Historical Review


Tanner, Norman, S.J. Was the Church Too Democratic? Councils, Collegiality and the Church's Future. [Bishop Jonas Thaliath Endowment Lectures No. 5.] (Bangalore, India: Dharmaram Publications [e-mail address: thotaka@bgl.vsnl.net.in]. 2003. Pp. xvi, 82. Rs. 75.00; US $7.00 paperback.)

The text of Father Tanner's Bangalore lectures in August, 2003, is an essay on the general councils that considers how their heritage may serve a changing church. About hall7 of this slim volume is ail overview of the councils; the other, more analytical half considers ecclesiology, collegiality, and interreligious dialogue since Vatican Council II in historical context. Several major points emerge from Tanner's reflections. First, he warns against an excessive and exaggerated counter-culturalism concerning order and theology. He believes this is a "pernicious trap" (p. 20) because, fearing secular democracies, the Church's hierarchy overemphasized authority and missed the opportunity to adapt positive models of participation. Second, Tanner stresses that consensus at the councils emerged from open, healthy, and respectful debate. Third, he laments that councils and the papacy have frequently been in tension, which largely departs from firstmillennium processes. …

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