There are many things that distinguish the Catholic Church from other Christian denominations. Today we are reminded of one of these features: We don’t make up doctrines on the fly.
In the first reading from the Mass today, the Apostles held the first Council in Jerusalem to discuss whether Gentiles that converted to Christianity needed to become Jews first and therefore adopt certain practices such as circumcision (Acts 15:7-21). Rather than let each local pastor make his own decision on this matter, the leaders of the Church gathered in one place to discern God’s will on the matter.
Over the centuries, the Church has held a few Councils. Much more common are teachings of the Magisterium to respond to pressing issues of the day. They all have one thing in common: the fundamental truths of our Faith must be universally held by all. There can’t be multiple “versions” of Catholicism. Why? Because there is only one God and one Truth revealed by him.
This highlights a key role of the clergy, which is often misunderstood. Many people think that the clergy get an advanced university education so that they can be smart enough to make important decisions when a new controversy emerges. There is some truth in that statement. But, with all due respect, God isn’t interested in anybody’s opinion. God has no use for our points of view. God himself doesn’t have any opinions about anything. Instead, he has perfect knowledge of everything. He wants us to turn to him for the answers.
The true role of the clergy during controversies is to prayerfully discern God’s will and to implement it decisively. No wishy-washy stuff. No dissent. No making stuff up based on a prideful PhD education. Just ask God what his will is, then do it. Anytime the clergy teaches something different from the Doctrine of the Faith, they’re indulging in make-believe Catholicism, inventing a new god and a new religion for themselves.
And the role of the laity is to assent to the authentic teaching of the Magisterium and to educate oneself so that by understanding the underpinnings of the teaching, we may be more willing to accept it. There’s no place for mutiny, grumbling or second guessing. How are you, dear lay person, that you should argue with the will of Almighty God?
It all boils down to humbling ourselves and letting God be God.