The Pathology of Catholic Authoritarianism

Something sinister is happening in the contemporary Roman Catholic Church. It is not just that Pope Benedict XVI (like his predecessor Pope John Paul II) is theologically and institutionally old-fashioned. What is happening under Pope Benedict’s rule is the implementation of a pathological regression into a degenerative and destructive Roman Catholic authoritarianism.

Pope Benedict, and bishops around the world who have obediently succumbed to his authoritarian virus, are destroying a contemporary Catholic Church that, thanks to the theological impulse of the Second Vatican Council, had begun to value dialogue, service, critical thinking, and an openness to new human experiences and contemporary realities.

The hallmarks of today’s Catholic Church are now becoming: arrogant episcopal power plays, an exaggerated medieval-style clericalism, institutional self-justification and hypocrisy, and a deceptive re-writing of Catholic belief and praxis that marches triumphantly beneath the banner of “the reform of the reform.”

For those who still really care to see a different kind of Catholic life, I invite you to reflect on the seven forms of pathological authoritarian behavior.

The pathological behavior of authoritarian leaders and followers:

1.Illogical Thinking : The lack of independent, critical thinking.

2. Highly Compartmentalized Minds : Authoritarians’ ideas are poorly integrated with one another.

3. Double Standards : When your ideas live independent lives from one another it is pretty easy to use double standards in your judgments. You simply call up the idea that will justify (afterwards) what you’ve decided to do.

4. Hypocrisy : The leaders of authoritarian movements sometimes accuse their opponents of being anti-democratic and anti-free speech when the latter protest
against various books, movies, speakers, teachers and so on.

5. Blindness To Themselves : self-righteousness.

6. A Profound Ethnocentrism : Ethnocentrism means dividing the world up into in-groups and out-groups…….in-groups are holy and good…out-groups are evil and Satanic.

7. Dogmatism: the Authoritarian’s Last Ditch Defense : By dogmatism I mean relatively unchangeable, unjustified certainty. Loyal followers obey without questions…..

 If we collaborate….we can change the system by refusing to acknowledge

authoritarianism in every form…..

(This week’s in-the-news photo reflection, with commentary, is below.)

“Give me my robe, put on my crown. I have Immortal longings in me.”

William Shakespeare

At today’s (25 May 2011)  weekly general audience Pope Benedict received a golden tiara commissioned by Dieter Philippi (, a German Catholic businessman. It was created in Sofia, Bulgaria by Orthodox Christians of the Liturgix studio ( A small delegation of Roman Catholics and Bulgarian Orthodox presented the tiara to the him after the audience. (Images from l’Osservatore Romano).

3 thoughts on “Our Church Administration is Critically Infected

  1. There’s another pathological behavior that’s even simpler than those on this list: flat-out lying.

    I have lost count of the lies and half-truths I’ve heard about the new English version of the Roman Missal. And I imagine many are sick to death of the lies and half-truths surrounding clerical sex abuse.

    True authority depends upon credibility, and these high-hatted gentlement are losing theirs.

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