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Bishop Gracida: “Chaos looms on the horizon if episcopal conferences are given doctrinal power” December 5, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, disconcerting, episcopate, foolishness, General Catholic, Papa, scandals, secularism, shocking, the return.

In the second of my posts examining the recent Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Guadium, I will look at another aspect where Pope Francis appears to be taking a rather radical turn away from the policies of even his immediate predecessors (let alone his distant ones) – so called “collegiality.”  I will use a recent column by Sandro Magister as a starting point to introduce some of my own thoughts.  The only thought Bishop Gracida had on this matter is what I included in the lede. Magister (I add comments, emphasis in original):

In the voluminous apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”  made public one week ago, Pope Francis has made it known that he wants to distinguish himself on at least two points from the popes who preceded him.

The first of these points is also the one that has had the greatest impact in the media. And it concerns both the exercise of the primacy of the pope and the powers of the episcopal conferences…….


On the role of the pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio credits John Paul II with having paved the way to a new form of the exercise of primacy.  But he laments that “we have made little progress in this regard” and promises that he intends to proceed with greater vigor  toward a form of papacy “more faithful to the meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it and to the present needs of evangelization.”  [This statement by Pope Francis is a strong – one might even say searing – indictment of his hundreds of predecessors. He is claiming they did not act with the Will of Christ in creating the papal-centric mode of governing the Church, something many early Church Fathers I think would find rather surprising.]

But more than on the role of the pope – where Francis remains vague and has so far operated by making most decisions himself – it is on the powers of the episcopal conferences that “Evangelii Gaudium” heralds a major transition.

The pope writes in paragraph 32 of the document:

“The Second Vatican Council stated that, like the ancient patriarchal Churches, episcopal conferences are in a position ‘to contribute in many and fruitful ways to the concrete realization of the collegial spirit.’  [That’s odd, because the “ancient patriarchal churches” were made up of individual sees headed by individual bishops.  Dozens or hundreds of bishops did not band together into pseudo-democratic highly bureaucratic organizations founded more on structures of modern government than any type of Church governance.] Yet this desire has not been fully realized, since a juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated. Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the Church’s life and her missionary outreach.”  [Interesting. Your two immediate predecessors, Holiness, thought rather differently on the matter, as we will see below.]

In a footnote, Francis refers to a 1998 motu proprio of John Paul II, concerning precisely “the theological and juridical nature of the episcopal conferences”:

> Apostolos Suos

But if one reads that document, one discovers that it attributes to the national episcopal conferences a function that is exclusively practical, cooperative, of a simple intermediate auxiliary body between the college of all the world’s bishops together with the pope on the one hand – the only “collegiality” declared to have a theological foundation – and the individual bishop with authority over his diocese on the other.  [And that’s true.  For 40 years, orthodox Catholics have been trying to explain the strange role played by episcopal conferences in just those terms, as being entirely unsupported by Tradition and Doctrine and being, essentially, novelties of a practical nature stood up by the Council.  Heretofore, there has been absolutely NO doctrinal foundation for giving conferences run almost entirely by progressive bureaucrats (many of whom have spent time at Planned Barrenhood and other far left NGOs) any role in Doctrine.  For reasons why, look to Blessed Pope John Paul II’s words below]

Above all, the motu proprio “Apostolos Suos” strongly limits that “authentic doctrinal authority” which Pope Francis says he wants to grant to the episcopal conferences. It prescribes that if doctrinal declarations really need to be issued, this must be done with unanimous approval and in communion with the pope and the whole Church, or at least “by a substantial majority” after review and authorization by the Holy See. [I wish it did not have that caveat.  In practice, the conferences have served often as bullies to prevent orthodox prelates from speaking out or taking action.  But, in their defense, they have also checked a few of the excesses of progressive bishops.]

One danger warned against in the motu proprio “Apostolos Suos” is that the episcopal conferences might release doctrinal declarations in contrast with each other and with the universal magisterium of the Church.  [Gee, ya think?!?  Anyone ever hear of the “Winnipeg Statement,” which rejected constant Church Dogma on contraception?  Individual conferences somehow get to pretend to define Doctrine (and I think their acts will never go beyond that, pretensions unsupported by the preconciliar Magisterium) and unleash potential doctrinal chaos.]

Another risk that it intends to prevent is the creation of separation and antagonism between individual national Churches and Rome, as happened in the past in France with “Gallicanism” and as takes place among the Orthodox with some of the autocephalous national Churches.  [Precisely.  As I said in a post some time ago, the Orthodox are more at war with themselves than with anyone else.  They have been trying to arrange a “pan-Orthodox” council for nearly 1000 years, and are no closer to having one today than they were 200 years ago, largely due to issues of national precedence and which national Church would get to declare to itself the “primacy.”]

That motu proprio bears the signature of John Paul II, but it owes its framework to the one who was his highly trusted prefect of doctrine, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

And Ratzinger – as was known – had long been very critical of the superpowers that some episcopal conferences had attributed to themselves, especially in certain countries, including his native Germany.

In his bombshell interview of 1985, published with the title “The Ratzinger Report,” he had resolutely opposed the idea that the Catholic Church should become “a kind of federation of national Churches.”

Instead of a “decisive new emphasis on the role of the bishops” as desired by Vatican Council II, the national episcopal conferences – he accused – have “smothered” the bishops with their weighty bureaucratic structures. [Well…….that’s because they have.  If you want to know why Nancy Pelosi gets to commit sacrilege daily receiving the Blessed Sacrament, look no further than the USCCB.]

And again:

“It seems wonderful always to decide together,” but “the truth cannot be created through ballots,” both because “the group spirit and perhaps even the wish for a quiet, peaceful life or conformism lead the majority to accept the positions of active minorities bent upon pursuing clear goals” and because “the search for agreement between the different tendencies and the effort at mediation often yield flattened documents in which decisive positions (where they might be necessary) are weakened.”  [Great points.  Even more, there is a tendency in such democratic and bureaucratic organizations to be completely dominated by worldly concerns, to seek to always placate and mollify the demands of the world (esp. the press), and to lose sight of the supernatural.  Any one of which is a profound reason NOT to give them any supposed doctrinal authority, which I still think would be illusory, at best.  JPII said in Apostolos Suos that national conferences could not decide Doctrine on a plane with the Holy See because they weren’t constituted by God to do so! They don’t have the charism of infallibility!  This will lead to unprecedented chaos and, very shortly, disaster.]

John Paul II and Benedict XVI after him judged the average quality of the world’s bishops and of most episcopal conferences to be modest. [Boy, they were being generous!  I would judge them as……something else!]  And they acted accordingly. Making themselves the leader and model and in some cases – as in Italy – resolutely intervening to change the leadership and marching orders.

With Francis, the episcopal conferences could instead see a recognition of greater autonomy. With the foreseeable repercussions exemplified recently by Germany, where prominent bishops and cardinals have been clashing publicly over the most varied questions, from the criteria of diocesan administration to communion for the divorced and remarried, in this latter case anticipating and forcing solutions on which the double synod of bishops of 2014 and 2015 has been called to debate and decide.

————End Quote————

The modernists, of course, love the idea of collegiality, the better to introduce still more chaos and confusion into the Doctrine of the Faith.  Modernists are seeking a path to continue their revolution with a seal of episcopal doctrinal approbation.  That is why they have been pushing for this collegiality for over a century.  It has always been one of their prime goals to “democratize” the Church, because they know with people being as fallen and tending towards sin as they are, the majority will happily revel in sin and error and call it virtue and truth.  Such would confirm the modernists in their positions of wealth and authority for decades to come, which is what I think much of this comes down to.  Power.  The Council unleashed a revolution that was all about grabbing power for what had before that time been a small, disaffected, and rightly persecuted clique.

Look, the matter is simple.  Individual bishops, and even groups of bishops in conference, have NO special charism to define doctrine.  They do not have the special protection of the Holy Spirit afforded the Pope when making definitions of a dogmatic nature.  They can err with wild abandon.  Almost ALL the major heresies came from bishops!

Lord, please deliver us from collegiality!  Pray and fast like mad for the Pope, he hasn’t DONE anything yet, he can still change his mind!  We have almost a year!  Storm Heaven!



1. Baseballmom - December 5, 2013

So if the Bishop Conferences have more authority then I must assume that the German Bishops will be successful in allowing divorced and re- married Catholics to receive the Holy Eucharist. And other countries may go along with same -sex “marriage” and contraception, abortion in “rare” cases…. Wait a minute… This IS Protestantism… It’s. already been done….

2. Kevin - December 6, 2013

Let me see…..Catholic politicians are the reason abortion is still legal in America, Bishops have been silent on contraception and homosexaulity…….the culture of death reigns. everything from Catholis Colleges being centers of satan to the dutch catechism and the winnepag statment….it would be a just punishment for God to allow Francis to come close to destroying the church.

3. Jackryan - December 6, 2013

He is a nightmare, I’m sorry. Ratzinger was crystal clear in stating only recently that national conferences of bishops have “no theological basis.” Ratzinger is 1000x the Church historian and theologian than Bergoglio. This is an attack on the primacy of the papacy; it is protestant in effect and probably spirit as well. Francis is seeming quite reactionary lately.

4. Hannah - December 6, 2013

If, therefore, someone shall say that the Roman Pontiff has the office merely of inspection and direction, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in matters that belong to Faith and Morals, but also in those that relate to the discipline and government of the Church spread through the world; or assert that he possesses merely the principal part and not all of the fullness of this supreme power; or that this power which he enjoys is not ordinary and immediate, both over each and all the churches and over each and all the Pastors and the faithful: let him be ANATHEMA.

(Pius IX, Constitution Pastor Aeternus or De Ecclesia Christi
of July 18, 1870

Enough said.

5. Steve - December 6, 2013

It is mind-boggling to me that anybody, let alone Pope Francis, would tout Eastern Orthodoxy as a role model for the True Church in regard to the manner in which the Church would govern Herself.

That is akin to the Eastern Orthodox touting the Vatican II Era Catholic liturgical “reform (revolution) as the model upon which to base an Eastern Orthodox liturgical reform.

6. Steve - December 6, 2013

In fairness to Pope Francis, he will simply bring to its logical conclusion Pope Blessed John Paul II’s determination to create a new form in which to exercise the Papacy.

That said, in Ut Unum Sint, Pope Blessed John Paul II issued a strong defense of Papal Primacy, authority and infallibility.

7. Tim - December 6, 2013

Why is anyone worried? We’re not in control. “Just do what he tells you”.

8. thewhitelilyblog - December 6, 2013

Tim, I think you’re off in your understanding of the papacy. We have to ‘do what he tells us’ but we have to keep our wits about it, because the cardinals have the power to declare a manifest heretic, they have done so at least twice in history, and we will be part of the growing understanding of what is being taught, along with the cardinals. We must examine what is being taught. I wish you would read the small booklet from Angeleus Press called The Papacy. In giving the history of the Church, it grounds us in tradition regarding this issue, which is truly a narrow road to walk. Vatican II’s poison lingers, we cannot rest until it is dislodged.

However, I came to this post just to say I read Pope Francis’ comments on prayer this morning and I was really touched. Yes, we must not be afraid to ‘annoy God’ with our constant petitions, we must be certain that He loves us and pray on. I can see my adult children, especially the one, reading those words and praying with greater confidence and energy as he lives through the very difficult circumstances he’s gotten himself into. It would touch his poor beat-up heart. (I’m going to keep the VIS up on my screen until later today and share the words with all my family, for that matter.)

That doesn’t mean I am not as concerned as other commenters regarding Pope Francis’ apparent position regarding collegiality, and no matter how his other preaching goes, it is these doctrinal matters–specifically, collegiality, ecumenism, and religious liberty–that are damning more souls than anything else because of their effects, on civil legislation for example, as mentioned.

9. vincent manning - December 6, 2013

One need look no further than the average body mass index(BMI) of the USCCB to know why these conferences are nothing but mirrors of the state. Vatican II and the Great Society merged in the American conference, populated by men who are truly “of their own age”-the 1960’s, from which nothing good ever came.

Woody - December 6, 2013

Interesting comment yet compare Cardinal Dolan to Cardinal Burke. Their age and backgrounds are very similar yet you would not know that by their words and actions. But generally speaking, I think you’re correct as to what the 60’s produced. Me included! Now that explains a lot!

10. mortimer zilch - December 6, 2013

True. Episcopal Conferences are not a true ecclesiastical structure. Pope Francis hinted at giving individual bishops, – not episcopal conferences, – more leeway with interpreting doctrine. That’s how it was in the time of the Fathers of The Church. It fits with Francis’ less centralized model of the Church. (When being persecuted it may well be better to fan out, than circle the wagons!!)

11. Kenneth Benway (@SandhillsKen) - December 6, 2013

Why do I have this uneasy feeling that there is more than a tinge of ‘Reparations Theology’ at work here … ?

12. Steve - December 6, 2013

Speaking of “being persecuted”…

The hateful attacks against Pope Francis and, in a sense, against Holy Mother Church, by more than a few Traditional Catholics suggest that the greatest persecution against the Church and Her institutions comes from within the Church.

On a daily basis, such blogs as Angelqueen and Mundabor mock and berate Pope Francis and, in effect, the Church.

Angelqueen’s latest mockery of Pope Francis is featured in the following post:

“Pope Francis Sneaks Out Of Vatican At Night In Disguise To Help Poor, Fight Crime”

The post, a reprint from the blog Eye of the Tiber, represents the Holy Father dressed bas Batman.

If a secular entity, or a Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Jew, Muslim…produced daily such posts, then every Traditional Catholics would shout…

“You see! You see! They have revealed their true colors. They hate the Pope. They hate the Church. They are vicious anti-Catholics.”

Holy Mother Church teaches that we have the right and duty as Catholics to present our needs, desires and concerns to our Churchmen.

But as Catholics, dehumanizing any of God’s children is not what we are called to do.

On a daily basis, more than a few so-called Traditional Catholics dehumanize Pope Francis. In turn, they attack Holy Mother Church.

Their mockery of Pope Francis is dangerous in that at the very least, they could spur weak hearts and minds to believe that it is acceptable to dismiss Holy Mother Church and Her holy institutions.

As Pope Paul VI declared, the Church has entered into self-destruction mode.

Yes, some of that is our Churchmen’s fault. But let us present our opinions in holy and non-dehumanizing fashion.

Quityobellyaching - December 7, 2013

God bless you. Thank you for peace amidst negativity.

13. Matthew Porcelli - December 7, 2013

In regards to “collegiality”, it is the model of Eastern Christianity thats being considered. The highest ranking of clergy is bishop, be he patriarch or pope. And the Holy Father as bishop of rome is the main bishop along all other bishops. “No doubt the others were all that Peter was, but a primacy is given to Peter, and it is (thus) made clear that there is but one flock which is to be fed by all the apostles in common accord.” [St.Cyprian]

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