day’s “conciliarists” —the various critics,rnwhetlier laymen or theologians —demand?rnThere is no question that, all told,rnthe Church resisted democratization underrnan’ political climate—whether underrnpagan tribal chiefs. Renaissance princes,rncritical intellectuals, modernist currentshutrnthat She managed to do so by adoptingrna nondemocratic structure. The roots otrnthe Church’s rejection of change may bernfound in Chrisf s legacy to St. Peter, but alsornin the co-opting of the Roman imperialrnmodel, “lire church can never forget thatrnthe emperor Constantine saved thernChurch from the barbarian ocean and, atrnthe same time, from the various heresies byrncalling the Council of Nicea (A.13. 325). Inrnother words, the rule of the emperorrnproved to be a good model for decisionmaking,rnand the pyramidal structure, anrnexcellent chain of command. Tlie essencernof politics is rooted—this is how Rome seesrnit—in the principle of authorit)’.rnAlthough it seems todav that a “nevrndeal” is being prepared for the “modernrnChurch,” democracy is unlikely to penetraternthe Church’s corridors and chambers.rnThe “conciliarists” are more vocalrnthan ever, and their support is perhapsrnstronger than it was in imperial times, itrncomes mainly from intellectual circlesrn(the same as in Marsilius’s tiirre) whosernideology, however, proves fragile becausernit is no longer trying to effect structuralrnchange within an institution, but thernabolition of that institution and its substitutionrnby a lobbv. Tins would be suchrna fundamental mctanoia that nobodyrncould control the outcome or even foreseernits meanderings. It is more likely thatrncounter-churches will arise, each with arndifferent set of doctrinal affirmations.rnThe new global ideology expects an’rnchange within the Church to be automatic,rnbrought about by the Zeitgeist, bvrnthe weight of international diktats, by thern”mature” decisions of humanity as a coalescedrnblock. Cone is tiie precision withrnwhich Marsilius handled a concreternproblem; it is replaced by sentimentalrnslogans and bureaucratic inefficiency.rnThe Constantinian principle remainsrnthe permanent model for governing thernChurch. Changes in ecclesiastical policyrnand in personnel are, of course, conceivable;rnbut, if nothing else, the ruins ofrnpolitical systems that cluttered the centuryrnjust past show the vay to the exit. Thernprojects of this transitional epoch (totalitarianism,rndemocracv, excessive freedom,rnmoral reform, globalism) havernbeen based on tire niisjudgment of huuranrnnature. I he most ancient heritage.rnChristian and classical, has a betterrnchange of survival. It should be urrderstood,rnhowever, that “demoerac” coincidesrnless and less with what the Creeksrnand the moderns meant bv it. Democracyrnis rrow generally innovation, fashion,rnsuperorganization, profitabilit — in otherrnwords, a melange of whatever the dominantrnforces of the monrent propose andrnadvertise. This liquid situation permitsrnaggressions against any institution andrnconcept, from nations to grammaticalrnrules. Hence, at a certain level, thernChurch is also exposed to aggression,rnmainly because it deals with concepts,rntheir definition (called dogmas and articlesrnof faith), and their permanence.rnSuch aggressions would be successful ifrnthe church’s governance (hence her definitions)rnwere to pass to a permanentrn”council” with democratic infighting,rnendless redefinitions and ideologicallyrntainted debates. Recently, MonsignorrnMartini, archbishop of Milan andrnpresently a papabile, expressed his dreanrrnof seeing the institutionalization of justrnsuch a permanent council in his lifetime.rnThe dream was entertained by Marsilius’srncontemporaries—and, apparentlv. itrnnever died.rnTo summarize a long and unsolvedrnhistorical problem, we find that leadershiprn—whether democratic, aristocratic,rnor authoritarian—faces the more generalrnquestion of how to channel power to thernmutual satisfaction of all concerned. Butrnas the realities of human nature shift withrntime, place, and social structure, the desiredrnequilibrium is hardly ever achieved.rnWe read authors as different as the RomarrrnJuvenal, Samuel Pepys, and Restifrnde la Bretonne (during the French Reolution)rnon tlie distribution of politicalrnpower and social response in vastly differentrnsituations, and we are compelled tornconclude that some sort of authorit)’ isrnneeded to establish a routine. Authority isrnthen seen as the guarantor of that routine,rnuntil the routine itself moves to a differentrnconfiguration, under a new authorit}’rnand its games.rnThis used to be nearly perfectly understoodrnby the Chiuch, for more thanrn1,000 years. Inheriting Christ’s moralrncommandments and the Roman imperialrnstructure. She tried to combine therntwo; Transcendental authorit)’ combinedrnwith political authority seemed to be thernbest formula, at least in the Western milieu.rnThe result was the fusion of threernclassical political power structures —rnnronarchy, aristocrac)-, and democracyandrnthis ecclesiastical subdivision of institutionsrnwas soon trairsferred to politicalrnand ei il institutioirs. For more than arnmillennium, the recipe proved acceptable,rneven ideal. Most aspirations —rnpopular, civic, cultural, and economic —rnfound their place; een the cosmosrnseemed to conform to the overall validrnformula, at least until tire arrival of Copernicusrnand Calileo. But science, asrnunderstood after the 17th eentur’, promotedrna new formula that opened therntripartite image to criticism and made itrnreplaceable. I’he modern crisis is derivedrnfrom that criticism, in spite of thernfact that the criticism was itself criticizedrn—hence the political instabiliK’ ofrnour epoch.rnI’he Church seemed to be alone in resistingrnthe change, concretely freezingrnHer “political” structure according to thernold subdivision. She still finds, however,rna large support in “civilian” (political) circles,rnmany of which attempt to recreaternthe classical pattern. Is there a possibilit-rnof a restauratio of a societ)’ based on authority?rnOr is the best we can hope forrnonly a remote imitation of a desacralizedrnWeltanschauung, which, while it lias recoursernto authorit)’, places the orderingrnprinciple elsewhere —namely, in a hiddenrnelite, which resorts to ideologies,rndemagogy, and ordinary tricks?rnThe last 200 years saw these attemptsrnrepeated over and over in the name of liberalism,rnMarxism, social democrac’, fascism,rnand any combination thereof.rnHardly anything seems to work, becausernthe routine itself is constantly disturbedrnby decolonization, internatioiral Utopianrnventures, technological advances, vastrnmigrations, economic upheavals —andrntheir mass interpretation through publicity.rnEven such immemorial institutionsrnas the family and the schools have fallenrnvictim to the modern crisis. The nationstaternitself seems to be dissolved, its placerntaken b’ global lobbies, or simply by anarchv.rnBellum omnium contra omnes.rnIn a book published in 1967 (Counterrevolution),rnI suggested that the Church’srnpassage to the revolution —I meant thernmodern crisis —may signal the latter’srnvictors’. At present, 35 years later, we stillrndo not know whetiier we find oursehesrnon its threshold or inside Plato’s cave.rnThomas Molnar is the author ofrnnumerous works, including Autiiorityrnand Its Enemies.rn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn