The latest Minute Message from the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter is a reflection on Authority in the Church, and the necessity for it as a guarantee of fidelity and orthodoxy. I am copying and reproducing the text with its illustrations:
Authority and the Open Mind
Now quite apart from its innate common sense and truthfulness something else about the article caught my eye - and that was the first illustration, the great and majesterial portrait of King Richard II dated to circa 1395, and still in Westminster Abbey. Now the FSSP author was writing about the Church, not the State, yet chose to include this classic image of monarchical authority. What the author says applies, mutatis mutandis, to the secular as well as the spiritual world.
To say that is not to deny the validity of the proper processes of politics in the ways appropriate to the times and places in which people live. The secular and the ecclesial both exist in the context of temporality and territoriality, and for both that requires the use of reason and due process.
Just as the author accepts the failings of individual clerics cause scandal so too do the failings of individuals, politicians and administrators in their respective spheres. The correction of such abuses is part of the proper function of the legitimate authority. Authority should be exercised with restraint and appropriate limits. Those exercising it must respects those limits, and those under its jurisdiction must respect its legitimate reach.
The hollowing out of respect for proper authority in both spheres is deeply corrosive - corrosive of tradition, corrosive of discipline, corrosive of society - and threatens disaster. A moment or two’s thought about the events of the past century will provide far too many examples, terrible examples, of what happens with the abandonment of received legitimate inheritance in favour of the passing fad or the seemingly promising alternative...