This is the article that appeared in the October 2023 edition of Catalyst, our monthly journal. The date that prints out reflects the day that it was uploaded to our website. For a more accurate date of when the article was first published, check out the news release, here.
Hierarchy. It’s a word the Left loves to rail against, seeing in it the heart of every social injustice. This holds true for Catholic dissidents, as well as left-wing egalitarians outside the Church. But don’t believe them—the only hierarchy they hate is the one they seek to overthrow. They love the hierarchal structures they seek to create and command.
The Synod on Synodality that occupied the Church in October ignited dissidents and inspired some of its members to celebrate an end to hierarchy. Mercy Sister Angela Perez of Guam was one of them. “I’m experiencing and witnessing the dismantling of the hierarchical,” she said.
Ironically, her presence at the synod was testimony to just the opposite. She was not chosen by lottery, but because she had distinguished herself from other nuns. She was past president of her community’s Guam region; held several other leadership positions; was a former principal; and president of the Academy of Our Lady in Guam. In short, she has occupied senior positions in the hierarchy of her associations.
Sister Perez was delighted to see the 464 synod participants sitting at roundtables throughout the Paul VI Hall. The ever dissident publication, National Catholic Reporter, noted that Pope Francis was also sitting at a roundtable, just like everyone else. Not quite. The pope’s table was at the head of the room and his chair was slightly elevated. At his table were the key synod organizers. Seems like hierarchy was everywhere.
Another example of the ubiquity of inequality was the realization that not all 464 participants, which included laypeople, were permitted to vote. That prize was given to 365 of them, meaning that 99 of the participants were treated unequally.
While all the participants were permitted to express themselves, a summary of the roundtable discussions, written by theologians, was to be presented to the Secretariat of the Synod office. In other words, not everyone’s voice would be given equal treatment.
If the proceeding was to be an exercise in equality—with no hierarchal overtones—then those not in attendance should have been able to witness the event. But the pope disallowed this. Conversations took place in secret, behind closed doors, away from the media.
The fact is hierarchy is unavoidable. Moreover, there is nothing disdainful about it. God’s existence proves this verity.
Hierarchy is first evident in the family. Ineluctably, parents have more rights and authority than children. Yet to this day, left-wing thinkers, pundits and activists are angry that this is so. But they may as well bang their heads against the wall—hierarchy is what defines society.
Three European sociologists, Robert Michels, Gaetano Mosca and Vilfredo Pareto, understood how society works and how absurd was the idea that a true democracy was possible. Michels posited an “iron law of oligarchy,” Mosca wrote about “the ruling minority,” and Pareto discussed “the circulation of elites” that governed society.
In other words, it has been, and always will be, impossible to run a family—never mind a group or an organization—where everyone has an equal voice. It’s always a small number of people who make the key decisions. That’s just the way life is, and all the protestations to the contrary will never change this reality.
We live in a society that is a republic, not a democracy. We elect our representatives. We even have an Electoral College that ultimately chooses the president. The founders distrusted giving all power to the people, knowing full well that in times of crisis the people were prone to act like a mob, not a reasoned citizenry (recall that Hitler was democratically elected chancellor). The expectation was that a carefully chosen elite might not rubber stamp the people’s choice in cataclysmic times.
Outside where the synod participants met, Catholic dissidents from around the world met. They want to turn the Church inside out and upside down. They claim to hate hierarchy, but they cannot win without forcing the faithful to accept their blueprints for change.
Karl Marx, the great hater of hierarchy, said that his utopian communist society would be an egalitarian wonderland, but before that could happen, those who would lead the communist movement would first have to establish a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Marx’s famous words were, “In order to establish equality, we must first establish inequality.”
There you have it. The love of hierarchy is what the Left has always wanted, as long as they are in charge. And what happens to those who resist and refuse to live in their egalitarian paradise? Sudden death. That’s what history teaches.
The penchant for radical equality inevitably comes at the expense of liberty. The most intolerant people in our society today are the ones who think they know better than the rest of us.
Catholic dissidents are no different. They have no use for the rank-and-file who love the Church. They are determined to change the Church, making sure the faithful follow their marching orders. The sooner the faithful see through these little dictators, the more likely they will resist their appeals.