A fractal mixed economy
Some thoughts about Mixed Economy — Durham, 14th of September 2017
1. About being catholic — the macro mixed economy
The Roman-Catholic Church is a worldwide, which means a catholic church to its core — in this case with a small letter c.
Its self-concept is indeed different from national protestant churches especially those I am familiar with in protestant German contexts.
It seems to me, that the Anglican Community builds some kind of hybrid of these conceptions: there are not just national churches, but also a sense of catholicity which means a global community of national or regional churches. The dynamics about the questions LGBTQ sisters and brothers are raising in these days make this obvious: How to cope with different perspectives on this issue globally? Or is it a matter of national churches? Will this cause a break of the Anglican Community?
Our small roman-catholic c is juristically visible in our Codex (with an uppercase C), which is the canonical law for all people over the world who are baptized roman-catholic.
The guarantor of this canonical law is the pope, and the legislation is to be supplemented in every diocese and by the bishops’ conferences you belong to.
This understanding of the canonical law is an indicator of the Catholicity,
because it makes the term »unity in diversity« operational all over the world.
Generally, it is self-evident (literally!) for Roman-Catholics that there are different ways of being church, and a variety of community life and of worship.
There is a quite strong but implicit sense of a macro mixed economy in the sense of a global church.
You belong to the same church even if you move to a different part of the country and it is easy to attend a service on a vacation, even if it maybe feels a bit different there.
But this attitude is quite implicit and therefor barely reflected, and thus does not directly lead to a broad variety of the church’s life in a regional or local context — which I would call micro mixed economy.
Let’s just have a closer look at some implicit questions about our topic in the environment of the Codex Iuris Canonici, to close with the perspective of what I would call a fractal mixed economy.
2. The associations of the faithful — an example of micro mixed economy
I am sure you are familiar with the fact that the Roman-Catholic Church incubates, enables, supports religious orders.
In my opinion the orders build the generic »other« within the system of the Roman-Catholic Church and therefore also within the Codex. The church embraces the »other« in principle. There is a model for being different and coming from another place within the canonical law of the orders which has its own place. They stand outside of the hierarchy and the diocesan parish system, but always under the pope, which is — as I said — the guarantor of the unity.
But there is also »another other« even within smaller entities, for example the »associations of the faithful« as an own entity, partly connected to parishes, but always in relationship with the bishop of the diocese.
A few weeks ago, we even got a new law, that priests can be incardinated in these organizations and communities and don’t have to be sent by a diocese.
Catholic Youth associations and their German umbrella organization released a document in 2015 about the theology (and ecclesiology) of (the catholic youth) organizations:
They called it »Theology of the associations« and ask the question, how the catholic youth clubs understand themselves as a part of the church, of the dioceses, and of parishes as a territorial framework?
They developed an ecclesiology of associations as places, where church happens in a sacramental form. Unfortunately, this document is poorly received.
This shows: there is not only a sense of a macro and a micro mixed economy, it is even practiced, but it is indeed quite implicit still and we do need more discourse on that topic.
If the socially and officially recognized form of »associations« are sustainable as a model and format, is a matter time will tell — even it was quite clever, generic and operational to include them as a placeholder in the new Canonical Law reform after the Second Vaticanum.
3. About the magnetism of uniformity (and the need for fractal mixed economy)
Nearly all dioceses in Germany are right in the middle of a much-needed change process that always embrace the question of mixed economy mostly in a hidden and implicit way.
Who will receive money and personal resources?
Which are the structures we will rebuild and to whom will they be helpful?
In some dioceses, the dynamics of these questions are asked under the umbrella term of Local Church development. The window of change toward a micro mixed economy is opening within these processes.
But: the magnetism of uniformity as the promise to reduce complexity combined with the effect of the ever speeding up change dynamics realizes itself in the clinging on the (promising safety of the) parish system.
The shift/change of paradigm towards a fractal mixed economy needs at least one generation of the faithful (and of the pastoral workers, the priests, and nonetheless the bishops).
In my opinion reflections on mission and ecumenism and experiences of a worldwide body of Christ are helping not only the decision makers but also all people who are in charge of or affected by the change.