A small uproar can be heard from conservative Catholic circles over Notre Dame University’s decision to honor Vice-President (and pro-abortionist politician) Joe Biden. But an uproar is all it is, and soon it shall pass just as all of the other uproars common in American Catholicism when some figure or wing of the Church shakes hands with evil. Nothing ever comes of it though, just as nothing usually comes from any disciplinary or doctrinal affront occurring within the walls of the Church. (Child sexual abuse and gross financial misdealings are the notable exceptions here.) People, even clerics, get indignant, but then life goes on. Despite this, Catholics continue to insist to their estranged Orthodox and (even more estranged) Protestant brethren that one of the “selling points” of the Catholic Church is its clear, unambiguous rules which, allegedly, forestall doctrinal and disciplinary anarchy. Such claims are utterly implausible at this stage in the game. While I cannot speak for the various Protestant sects, it is unimaginable that the various Orthodox churches in either the United States or abroad would allow church-backed institutions to openly support immoral politicians and/or policies. This isn’t to say it never happens or that there aren’t pockets of exceptions in Orthodox-dom, but it is hardly commonplace.
I make mention of this for two reasons. First, Catholic triumphalism over the Orthodox in the realm of discipline and doctrine simply needs to stop. Second, and more importantly, there is a discussion which needs to be had concerning the particular virtues of decentralization when it comes to taking meaningful action against those who openly dissent from Church teaching. Many fear that decentralization in the Roman Church will lead to chaos . . . but is not the chaos already here? Contrary to the magic longings of certain conservatives and traditionalists, the Vatican is not going to swoop in and save the day. If subsidiarity still means anything, then perhaps it is time to get jettison the Latin fetish for hyper-centralization and top-down, command-plan ecclesial politics. Or maybe people just enjoy complaining.