Statistics and Majorities are not our Divinity

I loved the bit in Pope Benedict’s recent talk-back to the priests of the dioceses of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso when he said “statistics are not our god“.

Last night, I read this from Ratzinger’s 1997 book Images of Hope (English Edition 2006) from the chapter “Primacy in Love: the Chair Altar of Saint Peter’s in Rome”:

The Church can remain one only from communion with the crucified Christ. No organizational efficiency can guarantee her unity. She can be and remain world Church only when her unity is more than that of an organization–when she lives from Christ. Only the eucharistic faith, only the assembly around the present Lord can she keep for the long term. And from here she receives her order. The Church is not ruled by majority decisions but rather through the faith that matures in the encounter with Christ in the liturgy.

She does not need the majority principle, which always has something atrocious about it: the subordinated part must bend to the decision of the majority for the sake of peace even when this decision is perhaps misguided or even destructive. In human arrangements, there is perhaps no alternative. But in the Church the binding to faith protects all of us: each is bound to faith, and in this respect the sacramental order guarantees more freedom than could be given by those who would subject the Church to the majority principle. (My emphases)

When I reflect on the narrow majority vote in the ELCA to condone actively homosexual pastors, and recall the endless knife-edge votes of the Lutheran Church of Australia over whether or not to ordain women pastors, it is with relief that I throw myself once again on that universal eucharistic communion of love and faith which is the Catholic Church, guided by the Chair of Peter.

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