Power vs. Authority in the Church, by Eric Sammons

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[Photo: Cardinal Cupich presenting the Spirit Of Francis Award to then-Cardinal McCarrick in 2016]

By Eric Sammons, Crisis Magazine, Dec. 30, 2021

Eric Sammons is the editor-in-chief of Crisis Magazine. His most recent book Deadly Indifference (May 2021) examines the rise of religious indifference and how it has led the Church to lose her missionary zeal.

The recent Vatican directive that parishes can’t advertise their scheduled traditional Latin Masses was met with widespread mockery on social media. For anyone who has worked in a parish, the idea of a curial bureaucrat in Rome trying to tell Mrs. Jones at St. Joseph parish in Des Moines what she can put in the bulletin is laughable and ridiculous. Heck, some pastors can’t even control what goes in the bulletin!

But behind the mockery is a deep insight into the differences between power and authority, even though in today’s world these two distinct ideas are often muddled. This confusion has led to profound misunderstandings among Catholics as to the nature of authority in the Church. …

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