A Voice of their Own

The local parish community is vested with true authority in the Church, said Fr. William A. Clark, S.J., Assistant Professor of Religious studies at Holy Cross College, and FutureChurch guest speaker at the November 7-9 national Call To Action conference.  Clark is the author of the book, A Voice of Their Own: The Authority of the Local Parish.  “The local Church possesses the proper type of authority essential to the life of the whole Church,” said Clark.  The institutional structure is needed and so is the “living tradition” but they become exclusively hierarchical if input from the laity is weak or without the intimacy of face-to-face discussion of the lived experience.

“Look at the face of the Church,” said Clark, “and you will see the Face of God.”  Out of this mix the Spirit will speak.  Local communities are the authorizers of universal structures.  The truly authentic community is in dialogue with authoritative foundations despite tensions that will occur.  It is aware of and nurturing of relationships  and it watches for the movement of the Spirit.  This community embodies Christ’s presence in ritual and tradition and “teaches the whole community what genuine authority is.”

Fr. Bill Clark sj, speaks about the authority of the parish to a standing room only crowd at CTA.
Fr. Bill Clark sj, speaks about the authority of the parish to a standing room only crowd at CTA.

Focus on FutureChurch

Fall 2008

 

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