It is a natural human instinct to wish to keep tabs on those who exercise authority. Ultimately, we want them to be accountable for what they decide and order. And when authority is exercised in and through a committee, we naturally want to know who said what; how many persons voted for a particular outcome; how a consensus was reached.
Perhaps Minutes should reveal such mysteries?
Minutes, however, are a problem. Because they put a great deal of power into the hands of those who write the minutes ... or, more likely, of the Person in whom it lies to say "Perhaps you might let me have a quick look at your draft of the minutes before you finalise them and send them round ...".
So, perhaps, a meeting should be open to the Media and the Public, like the American Episcopal Conference, whose activities can be recorded by journalists and published, in the same sort of way as the British Parliamentary Hansard.
But, human nature being what it is, if a meeting is all open and above board, before you can down a G and T, there will be another, unofficial, private, ad hoc group which, unaccountably, fixes what will happen at the open meeting. If that group is then formalised, the next stage is for it to be added to 'so as make it more representative'; and you reach the stage at which authority decides that another much smaller, unofficial, private, ad hoc group would be useful in order to ...
You get the point. Administrators crave the existence of informal groups behind closed doors which will do the real fixing before the 'formal' fora do their public and minuted business.
There is no answer to this problem. Anybody who thinks there is, is living in a fool's paradise, and has certainly never worked in anything like an English Public School.
But there are ways of attenuating the disadvantages of such inevitable recessions of decision-making.
Episcopal Conferences should follow the praxis of the Americans, and be open.
I became convinced of this two or three years ago, when the CBCEW called upon the Ecclesia Dei Commission to 'reconsider' the text of the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews in the Extraordinary Form, as it had been personally rewritten by Benedict XVI only a decade previously. Since this announcement seemed to me, and still seems, thoroughly outrageous, disgraceful, and improper, for a large number of reasons which I need not now repeat, it convinced me that data should be available about who moved the motion, who said what, how many favoured it, how many opposed, and how many abstained because they had not the faintest idea of what it was really all about.
It is possible that an even more important topic may, over the next months, come before some Episcopal Conferences. The still-simmering Amoris laetitia problem ... call it Adulterygate, or what you will.
I believe the Holy People of God deserve to be allowed to know who and how many bishops favoured what; and, moreover, to read any papers, memoranda, letters, which circulated in a Conference before its meeting. And if a repeatedly amended resolution eventually emerges as a consensus, the process of such evolution should not be opaque.
OK, there will still be secret cabals in (as the English used to say) smoke-filled rooms. We shall not see everything. Would-be fixers will still feverishly perform their private would-be fixing. But there will be data indicating where, even if at only one particular point in the process, each participant was prepared to take personal responsibility, before God and before God's people.
In his great explanation of where a Christian should look to find the Truth, S Irenaeus made great play of the public teaching of each bishop. Publicity offered an objective check that a bishop was not ... horror of horrors ... innovating upon what his predecessors in his See had taught since the Apostolic depositum fidei.