Part I covered the problem of having an authoritative doctrinal body in the devastating wake of the primacy of individual conscience. Part II concerned itself with building up the need for religious authority. Part III discussed the proper understanding of the primacy of conscience, put in the light of our common-sense perception of personal responsibility: Religious Authority doesn’t and can’t pull the trigger.
In a sense, the last two posts were meant in part to dispel the myth of the Mind-Controlling Church, that rhetorical bogeyman invoked by critics of the Catholic Church to push the “you’re not the boss of me” button on their audiences. True mind control, or “brainwashing”, is nowhere close to mainline acceptance as a valid psychological phenomenon, which of course hasn’t stopped it from being used as a meme elsewhere. As long as people need to assert and validate their intellectual independence against some Authority, they’ll continue to believe in mind control; here, however, we need not let this pseudo-scientific fallacy detain us further.
So let’s return to where we left off in the first part: Granting that some kind of central authority is needed to distinguish between authentic Christian doctrine and inauthentic or non-Christian doctrine, why must that authority lie with a monarchical Pope? Why can’t it be more like a democracy, with the Pope as kind of a president?