Does the Church need to change to be more inclusive?
In this video, Brian Holdsworth talks about inclusion and the Catholic Church.
I want to build an analogy off of the idea of tyranny because tyranny could be understood as what happens when a small minority of people control the majority of wealth and power and then use that power to impose decisions with or without the consent of that majority.
This is one of the reasons people can easily get turned off by capitalism. Capitalism, at its worst, can produce a scenario in which a small minority of captialists control the majority of wealth and power. That’s an easy and common enough criticism to make against unregulated free market economics but what most people who fixate on that neglect is that the exact same thing always happens with socialism. In socialism you get a minority of people who control the majority of wealth and power but instead of being capitals of industry, they’re the ruling political class.
Now the reason the concept of tyranny is relevant is because a system in which a minority of people are forcing impositions on the majority is a system that is as far from inclusive as it gets. It means that only a few get to have things their way and the rest are forced to tolerate the injunctions of those few.
In other words, the few will be included in how their community is organized and the many will be excluded from it because they don’t have a say.
So, as an example, the Church is criticized for how supposedly exclusive it is, but that’s based on this false and self-defeating notion of inclusion. In reality, the Catholic Church is 100% inclusive. It says, this is what Catholicism is and anyone who wants to believe that and follow those teachings, is welcome to do so. If you choose to reject what Catholicism is, then you’re also free to do that. So, what this means is you’re welcome to include or exclude yourself based on your evaluation of what the Church believes.
And with that, there are over a billion Catholics in the world. But now there’s this notion that is quite popular among some significant voices in the Church that says that the existing community of Catholics should compromise their beliefs and their identity so that those who are outside will feel more welcome.
So just consider what the implications of that are. That would mean that all the people who have found inclusion in a tradition of practices and beliefs would be expected to disfigure those beliefs and practices in the name of potentially including someone who rejects those beliefs and practices.
Keep in mind, those beliefs and practices, are the defining features of that community and sense of belonging for everyone who currently resides there. So, if an outsider rejects those beliefs and practices, they are, in effect, rejecting that community for what it is and yet, the community is being told that they need to find ways of including them.
This would be an imposition in which the few would be dictating the terms for the many, in which a few refuse to conform themselves to the character of the community but instead expect the community to conform itself to them.
Being a part of a community means conforming yourself to the many. If you expect the many to conform themselves to you, you’re not seeking community and you’re not asking for inclusion. You’re expecting a certain kind of primacy that is reminiscent of that definition of tyranny.
Excluding the many in the name of including the few on arbitrarily defined grounds is not inclusive and should not be expected by the Church or any community for that matter.
There is no shortage communities that are drawn together on factors that I don’t identify with and I would never expect them to compromise their sense of cohesion because I felt excluded. The fact that I don’t identify with the source of their community should be reason enough for me to look elsewhere for my own sense of inclusion.
So, if that’s not authentic inclusion, what is? I’d say by, first, identifying the common denominator that has drawn that community together and honoring it, and then by making sure that everyone fully appreciates what it is so that they are more free to accept it or reject it.
So, in the case of the Church, that common denominator is the faith. It’s the practices and teachings that enable us to love God and love each other. That’s what binds the many together. We’re not coming to Church on Sunday to get spiritualism, or socialism, or modernism. If that’s what we wanted, then we would go elsewhere. But we aren’t going elsewhere. We want Catholicism and it’s that mutual desire that unites us, so doing anything other than giving us authentic Catholicism is self-defeating and tyrannically exclusive.