Writing about the history of the Bible in the 13th century, de Hamel notes, “The Bible, at least in Western Europe, was mostly still in Latin, by then used by fewer and fewer people. This gave it authority but obscurity.” A parallel situation has emerged in the contemporary world in terms of Church authority.
The Church possesses and exerts many kinds of authority, with the most serious and solemn connected to its teaching office in matters of faith and morals. Her various kinds of authority ultimately come back to a charism of the Holy Spirit, and theologians have labored to better understand Church authority. However, today’s communication situation has changed dramatically from that of even 100 years ago and, with it, the situation of Church authority.
The contemporary world sees a growing gulf between a teaching authority that the Church understands it has and the authority that people appear willing to recognize.