If only they had listened to Chardin………

‘It has sometimes seemed to me that there are three weak stones settled dangerously in the foundations of the modern church -first, a government that excludes democracy, second, a priesthood that minimizes women, and third, a revelation that excludes future prophecy’.

This is a quote from Teilhard de Chardin, written probably in the early nineteen fifties. We know from so much of his writing that he was a great genius, but also he clearly was a man way ahead of his time. His clear-sightedness about the Church, and the problems that it faced, must have been really exceptional for his time. No wonder they sanctioned him, and did their best to keep his ideas from spreading.
What a mistake the Church authorities made. All three ‘weak stones’ have become unsettled from the foundation, leaving the Church is a very rocky and unstable situation.
The authority structure of the Church has lost most of its credibility. All decision-making being confined to a small group of elites of a particular mind-set is no longer acceptable as a way to govern a large institution. The Church is floundering around trying to find a way out of this dilemma. Francis has clear ideas of the way it should be moving, but the long-established powers are holding firmly to the old ways.

‘……a priesthood that minimizes women……’ Chardin must have been a fairly lone voice on that one in his time, but now it is at the cutting edge of the survival of the Church. Unless the diminishment of women changes radically in the Church, both in decision-making and ministry, it is hard to see that it has much of a future. But that is going to be a hard and ugly battle, with a lot of collateral damage along the way.

‘……a revelation that excludes future prophecy…’ This is the one that most amazed me, when I came across this quote. It is referring to the fact that a lot of Church doctrine has come from the early centuries of Christianity, and has been turned into unchangeable formulas and dogmas that everyone is commanded to accept without question. But as time moves on, as human understanding develops, and our knowledge increases both of the human being and of the universe, these doctrines are in desperate need of updating, and in some cases, putting aside. But the Church has reacted by declaring infallibility, and surrounding the whole teaching with threats of anathema and excommunication. All of this has a note of desperation about it, a sense of futility, even of closing the stable door when the horse has bolted.

A friend of mine, who keeps an eye to my blog, suggested to me recently that he detected a tiredness, maybe a weariness, in my contributions — maybe, he suggested, a sign that I am losing hope in the future of the Church.
Yes, perhaps he is reading it correctly.

If only they had listened to Chardin……………