Legitimation Crisis, Transformative Teaching-Learning and Regrounding of Authority in the Roman Catholic Church

Livinus Anweting, Fordham University


This study explores how religious education, and in particular transformative teaching and learning can provide an opportunity to re-ground authority in the Roman Catholic Church. The research presents an educational response to the legitimation crisis. It seeks to resolve the organization problem as typified in the pyramidic-hierarchical pattern of leadership in the Church. Drawing upon the works of Jürgen Habermas and Jack Mezirow, the study maintains that there is a crisis of leadership or authority in the Catholic Church and that to transform its life the leadership of the Church has to critically examine its ways of being in the world in the postmodern age. The researcher employs the guiding metaphor of calming the storm to imagine a reordering of the Church’s focus on pyramidal exercise of authority that has fueled the storm. The researcher recognizes that institution and magisterial edicts are needed to ground and guide our holy longings. The hallmark of the Church is its ability to discern how the Spirit is guiding its members. However, the Roman Catholicism has an organizational problem. The researcher wishes to step outside of the categories for looking at the Church and to place both the best of the Church and its problems in a new framework. This includes a retrieval of the richest and fullest meaning of the term “hierarchy”. The researcher asserts that as a pattern or design of an institution, the term hierarchy transcends a group within an institution. The exercise of authority that is relational and inclusive at this time of legitimation crisis is required. Both the ordained and non-ordained is bound by Christian obedience to speak their minds and be conscious of their respective responsibilities also. The one source of authority in the Church today is the full range of experiences of men, women, and children. The researcher offers three symbols of koinonia (community), leitourgia (liturgy) and didache (teaching), which in the Church’s tradition can help re-root and re-ground its life with an authoritative foundation.

Subject Area

Religion|Adult education|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Anweting, Livinus, "Legitimation Crisis, Transformative Teaching-Learning and Regrounding of Authority in the Roman Catholic Church" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10266291.