CathBlog - The Church doesn't need technocrats

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Criticisms of the bureaucracy of the Church in Rome and clericalism are often misguided.   I agree the bureaucracy has contributed to many problems and clericalism is pervasive. But this criticism is still wrong because it doesn't go far enough, it is too narrow in vision and fails to see the true scope of the problem.

It also fails to realise that in Pope Benedict and many Bishops we have allies.

The true problem isn't isolated to Rome, nor is it only in the priesthood, in fact it is not even specific to the Catholic Church.

The problem is best summed up as the domination of the world by technocracy.  This problem is most alarmingly found in the modern economy giving rise to Peter Drucker's famous phrase "capitalism without capitalists". Where are the entrepreneurs? Where are the robust, visionary and principled men and women that should drive the economy?

It is true the technocratic problem is found in the Roman Curia but it is also found in lay dominated parish councils.  It is true it is in priestly organisations but it is equally found in men's and women's clubs, social groups and associations.

Technocrats run the modern business and the modern government, they even run the union movement.

Technocracy is identified by three things: specialisation, an emphasis on systems and process and an emphasis on technical skill.

Of the three listed above, specialisation is the root cause of the modern technocratic revolution. It is something Leibniz warned us about in the 17th century. He was aware that the strength of the middle ages was synthesis and he lamented it's demise. He saw clearly that knowledge was fragmenting. Physicists did not understand chemists, dogmatic theologians did not understand scriptural theologians and so on.

Kant too warned about being paper mâché men and women, fully aware that technocracy was creating a problem of personality. Specialisation erodes general intellectual and moral principles. It stops us  attempting to know "everything about everything" in Lonergan's phrase. It makes us mistrust ourselves and the authority of non-specialists. We become unable to make our own decisions and become slaves to systems.

Fortunately many people are fighting this important battle. Contrary to popular opinion these people include the Pope and many Bishops, it also includes many lay people and many outside the Church.

One notable example in Australia, which is driven by many people from all walks of life, is the Catholic universities. Clearly Campion College is an attempt to solve the problem but so to are ACU and Notre Dame. Each one is attempting to buck the trend toward specialisation and mere technical skill. Even where vocational training is supplied a more general context is provided. Staff and students are encouraged to cross the quad, to engage with other departments. And philosophy is alive and well in all Catholic universities, it is not treated as an ancient relic.

These places also protect against fundamentalism and post-modernism, two movements that try to remove specialisation by destroying knowledge altogether.

And finally Faith, of course, is the greatest aspect. Faith can shed light on all departments of knowledge. Faith is no respecter of speciality, it encourages synthesis and true understanding.

The Catholic universities are trying to develop men and women of deep principle and true Faith.

In many ways such people do not fit into the modern world but then again, they are also it's only hope.

Simon Rowney is a CathNews reader who blogs from Corrimal, NSW.

Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.

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