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Being Elected by the People Being Appointed by a Chosen One

By Jaime Sevilla, M.PM, M.Th.

Talking with a great friend at the Arlington club in Portland, we reflected on the difference between being elected by the popular vote and being appointed by the elected person.

Although it may seem simple at first sight, it is actually much more complicated than we can imagine, since being elected by the People’s vote and being appointed by that elected person to a particular position has a completely different impact.

For example, in the elections of a Country, people elect by their vote their representative, in that sense, we affirm that the winning person represents the People, is the voice of the People.

At the same time, this chosen person appoints others to represent him or perform a particular function entrusted to him. For example, the president of a country represents the voice and desire of an entire people that elected him, speaks on behalf of the people; however, their ministers, ambassadors and other agencies do not represent the voice of the People, since they were not elected by vote; but they were appointed by someone elected, through vote, to develop a function.

That is why we can say with certainty that an Ambassador does not represent the voice nor can he speak on behalf of the People, a consular officer does not represent the voice of the People, a minister, does not represent the voice of the People, etc. Only those authorities freely elected by vote are those that represent the voice of the People.

Meditating a bit on the structure of the institution of our Catholic Church, it is clear that a complete democracy does not exist within its hierarchical order since, within it, the will of the entire people is never taken into account. Only indirectly, it seems like few members of the holy people of God elect a deacon, a priest or a bishop.

All the degrees of the priesthood order are named, none of them is chosen by the vote and desire of all the People of God.

Therefore, just as the officials appointed in a government do not represent the voice of the People, we can also say that the appointed ecclesiastical authorities also do not represent the voice or can speak on behalf of the People of God.

Since each ordained minister is called to speak in the name of the Word, in the name of God, not in the name of the people. The people are not asked for an opinion if they speak in his name; since those consecrated to the priestly order have to expose and explain them, interpreting what God wants for the people.

Now, the above is experienced in practical, civil life, etc. However, whEre did the Catholic Church acquire such power and authority? From its founder, Jesus Christ, who delegated, from the beginning, his disciples to carry out the great mission of the Kingdom of God.

Then, that authority represents the authority of Jesus Christ, which means that it is not an authority given by the People, but directly from God, to serve the People. And this is my point of departure, every bishop, priest, and deacon, has been appointed to serve the People; as the appointed officials of a government do (only in the spiritual part); it does not mean that they represent or can speak on behalf of the People, because they were not chosen by them.

Now, when the individuals of a People freely accept the leadership and voice of a cleric; then we can say that these individuals give a kind of spiritual authority over them, their bishop, priest, deacon or layman.

However, it does not mean that the one consecrated to the priestly ministry represents by himself the authority of the People, because he was not chosen by them.

His unique authority depends on the good service he can develop in his community since that is the authority that God grants to his priestly ministry. In conclusion, we can say that the base of the Catholic Church, by principle and nature, is hierarchical, but its ends are democratic.

Everything is at the service of the people of God, which is what makes it “ecclesia”, that is to say, community, although its constitution is hierarchical (dogmatic constitution “Lumen Gentium” Vat.II.). The Hierarchy is by and for the People of God

The Vigilance

Corpus Christi