Was thinking today about the Church and how it is arranged. I began to think about the Church and her structure after hearing a lecture on the gifts of the Holy Spirit by a Pentecostal Professor. In the lecture, the topic of different church structures arose, specifically what structure reflects biblical principles. It seemed the professor was more open to the idea of less structure, and more organic movement within the Church. Loose leadership is necessary, but nothing of dynamic structure. While it sounds romantic and communal, it is weak.
I once heard a group (a Protestant group) talk about there being much more freedom in structure than without.
There is a reason Christ told St. Peter “tend my sheep (John 21:16 NAB)”. He didn’t say “Peter, at a later time you are going to get in the way of my followers and you must step aside”. That is the opposite of what he says.
One can challenge that by saying that verse does not mean an institution should be formed around the office of St. Peter. Well Jesus does elsewhere.
“And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18 Douay-Rheims Bible)
After that Jesus adds:
“And I will give to thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, it shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in Heaven (Matthew 16:19 Douay-Rheims Bible).
Other than a clearly neglected traching that recognizes the installation of the Papacy, Jesus is handing over his teaching authority over to a clearly established leader that Christ is going to work through with the coming ministry of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts of the Apostles.
He begins a ministry where the Apostles will carry the weight of Jesus’ ministry by giving a special anointing to the Apostles through the Holy Spirit by breathing on them (John 20:22-23). This is also Jesus authorizing the Sacrament of Reconciliation through Confession and the formation of Holy Orders.
Point being: Christ knew the Church needed visible leaders.
Not autonomous groups feeling their way through a dark room
That being said there is freedom in structure. Devotion to the Holy Spirit and the asking of gifts and charisms is highly encouraged in the Catholic Church. These gifts lead towards a missional heart as well as a deeper sense of Koinonia in the Church. Father Cantalamessa stated in his book, Sober Intoxication of the Spirit: Filled With The Fullness of God, that the Spirit may lead people to formulate other spiritual communities that exist under and with permission from the local Bishop. While there is freedom in the Spirit, Christ wants his Church to be one. Therefore, Catholic Charismata flourishes under Catholic orthodoxy.
Seek the movement of the Holy Spirit and know that Christ founded one Church, and you can flourish in that Church with gifts and charisms given to you by the same Spirit.