The desacralization of church power
Thus Lumen Gentium called "sacred" the following:
“the sacred power of its ministers” (18),
“the sacred primacy of the Roman Pontiff” (18),
“the sacred office of bishops” (20),
“the supreme power of the sacred ministry of bishops” (21),
“the sacred character of the episcopal consecration” (21),
“the sacred ministry of bishops” (26),
“their sacred right to make laws for their subjects” (27),
“the sacred office” (of those in power) (37), “the sacred canons” (45), etc.
The sacralization of church power raises the question of its authority in the transmission of faith and morality.
Is there a Catholic morality different from human morality? Does the teaching church enjoy a higher understanding of human morality and natural law? If yes, is it only because of the sacredness of its authority? If yes, then the only attitude is one of obedience, including blind obedience.
Is blind obedience to authority a Catholic virtue? the highest Catholic virtue?
Most people feel that they are not bound by moral rules that do not make sense to them. More than half the Catholics believe that one can be a good Catholic without adhering to church teaching on birth control, weekly Mass attendance, divorce and remarriage, and even abortion. Is this the sensus fidelium? Not to agree with the mandatory nature of a teaching does not mean that one rejects it, only that one rejects being personally bound by it.
If Catholic morality is no different from universal morality, the church leaders should be able to explain it convincingly—for instance birth control—to Muslims or Jews who do not have to abide by it. Would Jews or Muslims agree that women cannot be ordained because the apostles were all males? It should make sense to them although they are not bound by it. Can university theologians convince their Jewish or Muslim students that artificial birth control is a moral evil? Is Catholic natural law different from human natural law?
What is the role of the magisterium in teaching faith? Is Christian doctrine the expression of Christian faith, as in lex orandi, lex credendi? Or is Catholic doctrine the expression of Roman theology and papal theology, for instance in the Catechism? Is the role of the magisterium to teach faith or Roman theology? What is the role of the sensus fidelium? Is it just to obey? If yes, we return to the above discussion on obedience.
What would desacralized authority look like? Desacralized authority in the church would be no different from authority in the civil society, and be justified only by the demands of revelation and the common good. All laws, rules, and regulations must be justifiable in they eyes of individuals by revelation and the needs of the common good, if not they are void. “Feed my sheep” and “strengthen your brethren” does not mean rule theologically over them.
According to Kohlberg and Fowler, moral and religious development leads one from following an outside authority to listening to an inner voice. In the latter case, outside authority is subordinated to the voice of conscience. Is sacralized authority fostering conscience or outside autority? How should conscience respond to sacralized authority?