The Church

The last few weeks have seen another flare up in the abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. Part of this has been calls for reform in the Church. As I have said on a number of occasions, the Church does not change very easily nor should it. The Church does not change because of public opinion polls.

The Church and when I use Church I mean Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, have a hierarchy and a system for change. In both cases they require a synod of bishops. In the case of the Orthodox Church it requires an Ecumenical Council, that is a gathering of all the words bishops. The Church can change procedure and it has from time to time, but things like clergy celibacy and ordination of women are not procedures but doctrine and these are harder to change.

The staying power of the Church is that is does not change. We Orthodox will say that our theology has been the same for 2,000 years and this is true. How we speak about theology has changed over the years, and things that need to be clarified have been. But I as a priest, or a single bishop, do not have the power, if you will, to make whole sale changes in theology. I would also submit that in the Orthodox Church those mentioned already do not have the power to change the churches liturgy. I do not believe you would ever see a gathering of bishops for example, meet and say we are no longer going to use the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom we are going to use the Liturgy of Bishop Snuffy. That will not happen. I would also submit that they do not have the power to change the Liturgy. What I mean by that is they do not have the right to remove portions of the Liturgy we use.

It has been my experience that Churches who are wishy washy or try to be politically correct run into all sorts of problems. Just look at what is happening to the Episcopal Church here in the United States. I am not saying they are wrong, just that when you let people do whatever they want and believe whatever they want there is a cost associated with that.

The Church is not a democracy. It never has been. Yes there was a time when bishops in the Roman Church were elected, and bishops in the Orthodox Church are elected, at least for the time being, but theology is not subject to opinion polls. The truth is the truth and that is absolute. The truth was the same yesterday as it is today. The truth can never change. The way we speak about the truth can change, but the truth cannot.

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