Can the laity change the RCC?

In the pope thread in the Pit, I have said that if the laity wants changes in the Roman Catholic Church, they can achieve them. Bricker, who comes at it from an entirely different perspective, has said he could work through the church to change it from the inside.

My perspective is that when the masses determine to do something, the RCC would have to change or die–and I don’t think they’d choose to die.

Bricker’s perspective seems to be that the laity has some power on a more individual level to suggest change.

But are either of us right? Can the laity change the Church (short of destroying the Church through abandonment)? Are there examples of it happening? Is there any change the Church has ever adopted that originated in the laity? Especially relevant would be anything in modern times.

It seems to me that anyone with any authority to make changes of significance within the RCC got the job because they’ve have already been thoroughly indoctrinated. Starting from the bottom rung of power, almost all positions are assigned from higher positions, not picked by the parishioners.

I think Bricker is entirely right. I think that the laity can suggest change.
I don’t think they can go any farther, though, and the Church hierarchy can ignore any and all suggestions.
This is pretty much a feature , I think, of long-lived top-down organizations. Privates aren’t going to get very far trying to change the way the U.S. Army does business. But it’s extremely annoying to people who organize their churches differently. Mark Twain clearly didn’t like it. his Connecticut Yankee explicitly sets out to try to re-organize the local churches along the lines of the self-governing Protestant churches Twain grew up with. He shouldn’t have been surprised that Rome slapped an Interdict on Britain.

I imagine the laity could change the church, but on a multi-generational timescale. They need to talk openly and often—both in church and at home—about what changes they’d like to see in the church. Then, those kids of theirs that grow up to enter the clergy will have grown up with those words ringing in their ears. That clergy will have a chance of changing things.

The church hierarchy does not believe that its legitimacy derives from its congregations, but from God. Why would they allow their actions or doctrines to be affected by the unordained?

A link to the post you are referring to would be helpful

No, it wouldn’t. I’m interested only in the general question, and there are no posts in that thread that answer it.

I don’t think the church would willingly change unless a significant portion of the laity took up arms, so to speak.

It’s one thing for an individual to say, “I wish the church would change X” it is quite another for signigicant numbers to say, “if the church doesn’t do X, I will no longer attend services nor will I give them any money.”

After all, the church did change its stance on death and unbaptized babies.

They didn’t change because of a message from on high, but because more and more people in the real world saw it as horribly unfair and objectionable.

Yeah, but who pays the bills for the whole shebang?

Look. If the members of the RCC stood up and said as one that this shit stops here or we all leave, it would stop. If the message was clear “change or die”, they’d change.

First, not enough members are going to do this to matter because of lifelong indocrination.
Second, the first local church to do this would have their church, and all religious trappings therein, taken away damnfast.
Third, excommunication.

So? That wasn’t the question - the question is, can the laity change the church? Just because they won’t doesn’t mean they can’t.

Are you saying they should stop being such an easy lay? :wink:

That’s rubbish. Limbo has never been a doctrine of the Catholic church, just one of several competing hypotheses. The official line has always been “we don’t know what happens to the souls of unbaptised children.” The catechism specifically states: “God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.” and “As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God…”

Augustine believed that unbaptised children were denied salvation, and many theologians have agreed over the years, but many have disagreed as well. The recent report from the International Theological Commission changes nothing; it merely restates the position the church has held for centuries, which is that not baptising infants is a foolish risk with eternal consequences.

The research may or may not have been initiated due to public demand – I wouldn’t know – but the church didn’t change anything on the laity’s account, and I don’t think they ever will.

The church will never admit changing anything because of public demand, but if they start getting enough grief they will. If they ever did admit this they would be basically stating that they’re nothing more than con artists.

While there is no papal order stating that because so many people are troubled by the concept of Limbo, I believe that it is the main reason they clarified their position, otherwise why bother?

If it wasn’t for popular support, they’d still be doing mass in Latin with the priests back to the congregation, etc, etc.

The church is like any other organization, if laity/customers complain enough they will have no option but to change or die. Unfortunately, a large majority of the laity are sheeple, but if something finally irks them enough to get them off their backs, then they will become an unstoppable force.

It isn’t complaints, but defections, in large quantities, sustained over a great length of time, that can lead to the leaders considering the possibility that they may have misunderstood God’s will.

Meanwhile, they have a great store of assets to live on, gained through centuries of passing the collection plate.

Complaint was a poor word to use. But I feel that with the emptying of pews, the drying up of the collection plate along with vocal complaints from those staying with the church together can have a huge impact and spur the church to change in order to avoid losing its wealth and power.

Actually, many of the teachings of the Church are based on the consensus of the Church as a whole. That’s what the Protestants were objecting to with the “sola scriptura” thesis.

They bothered because Benedict is the first pope in a good many years that is actually trained as a theologian rather than a pastor and he decided that it was a loose end that he wanted wrapped up.

The “change” to the idea of Limbo is exactly what I was taught well over 40 years ago. (I suspect that if you do a search on “limbo” under my username, you will find that sentiment published on the SDMB several years before Benedict’s commission was gathered, much less reported their response.)

OTOH, this is an example of the laity “moving” the church. The Second Vatican Council caught a lot of people by surprise who had never paid much attention to the various undercurrents in the church and some people came to the belief that a bunch of rogue bishops got together and invented a bunch of “new” rules. The reality is that with only one exception that I can recall, every “change” that came out of that council had been the subject of “conversations” in the church for at least 70 years. (The one exception would be the documents expanding on human rights, the “conversations” about which were sometimes only about 30 years old.)

This is not actually accurate. There are various theories of “authority” within the church, one of which is, indeed, the “authority derives from God” model upon which monarchical nations were patterned and many church leaders embraced. However, another model is that the leaders of the church (and the ideas they promote) arise from the people of God.

Clearly there have been church leaders who embraced the monarchical model with unseemly enthusiasm, but it is not accurate to say that it is the way that everyone in the church (or the church hierarchy) thinks.

The ITC was directed to research the subject by John Paul II. I appreciate your other comments, though.