Jesus told us to read the signs of the times. Fifty years ago an attempt at reading those signs had Pope John XXIII asking for the views of bishops whom he called together from a hundred counties. It has been the attempt of Pope Francis at reading the signs of the times that had him polling the views of Catholics everywhere. Both John XXIII and Francis have been looking for help in making the Church what God wants it to be.
Five of the church’s Cardinals just published a book criticizing Pope Francis for seeking a wide consensus. Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the church’s judicial system, and Cardinal Gerhard Muller, the gatekeeper for orthodox teaching, wrote that taking poles was not the church’s way of reaching decisions.
However, historians point out that in the Dark Ages it was the kings and their lords who made all the decisions, and for the Church's survival in that world, it had to mimic such structures in turning all decision making over to the pope, his bishops, and the clergy. But these historians now feel that this same need forces us to keep in step with this democratic world by consulting the views of the people.
That was the view that won out at Vatican II where bishops from a hundred of the world’s nations were in charge. In defining the nature of the Catholic Church they rejected the view of those who saw it as a perfect society ruled by a hierarchy. Instead they voted unanimously to see it as the People of God.
We are very fond of our traditional ways of doing things, but we must obey Our Lord’s command to read the signs of the times.