The national bishops’ conference exists to promote collaboration among bishops, not to replace their authority, Pope Benedict XVI said to a visiting group of bishops from Brazil on November 15. The episcopal conference “must avoid becoming a parallel reality or substituting for the ministry of each individual bishop,” the Pope said. He added that “the counselors and structures of the episcopal conference exist to serve the bishops, not to replace them.” Stressing the duty and authority of each individual bishop within his own diocese, the Pope said that the conference should help each bishop to carry out his work more effectively. (Source)
As readers of Socon or Bust are now well aware through the recent abortion scandal of Development & Peace, one of the main reasons why this abortion scandal was permitted to happen in the first place was because of the virtual wholescale abandonment of the role of the individual bishop, including his responsibility to watch over his flock’s sacrificial offerings and not to consign major decisions over critical areas to various committees. The lax and negligent delegation of their responsibility and rights as individual bishops to Church bureaucrats and their bottomless committees made it possible for the social justice crowd to pump in millions of dollars into the coffers of pro-abort fanatics who, in turn, sought and succeeded (in some cases) to overturn pro-life laws in the Global South.
Not too long ago, Steve wrote an excellent summary of the issue in this blog post. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it because it’s an excellent synthesis of the issue. Here is a citation from it which is very relevant to the recent news of the Pope’s recent warning concerning these conferences:
In a 1985 book called The Ratzinger Report, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (our current Pope) spoke very forcefully and unequivocally on this point:
The decisive new emphasis on the role of the bishops is in reality restrained or actually risks being smothered by the insertion of bishops into episcopal conferences that are ever more organized, often with burdensome bureaucratic structures. We must not forget that the episcopal conferences have no theological basis, they do not belong to the structure of the Church, as willed by Christ, that cannot be eliminated; they have only a practical, concrete function. (The Ratzinger Report, 59-61)
Here’s another great post by Steve on the same subject. Here is a citation from that post:
The episcopal conference has become a parallel magisterium. In the words of [Bishop Vasa]:
It is quite possible that the faithful, and perhaps our national government, see in the conference a type of intermediate magisterium to which each bishop owes obedience and respect, and which is always empowered to speak for the bishops. This is not the case at all. In fact, quite the opposite has been strongly confirmed in Apostolos Suos. While recognizing the legitimate aims of episcopal conferences, Pope John Paul II wrote:
Such aims, however, require that an excessively bureaucratic development of offices and commissions operating between plenary sessions be avoided. The essential fact must be kept in mind that the Episcopal Conferences with their commissions and offices exist to be of help to the bishops and not to substitute for them. (Apostolos Suos, 18)
And so, there you have it, folks. The current Pope and the previous one giving us the straight goods on these National Conferences which hamstring and muzzle the legitimate authority and responsibility of individual bishops. With the recent visits by the Vatican to Socon or Bust, we have to wonder if the Vatican, in its wisdom, is recognizing the real problem with the abortion scandal at Development & Peace. It’s not about Development & Peace that much at all. It’s about the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops which has long usurped its legitimate role and function, beginning with its lethal and treacherous pastoral document known as the Winnipeg Statement which has effectively muzzled Canada’s bishops from boldly proclaiming the Church’s teaching against contraception and for the Gospel of Life. When was the last time you heard any sermon on contraception in your parish? Never? Once maybe in 10 years or so? God knows you’ve likely heard more about bottled water at your parish than latexed sodomy. See my point? And what about the recent joy ride that we’ve had with Development & Peace the last 20 months? What should have taken 20 minutes to clean up is going to take 20 years before the last.final.drop. falls. And why? Because the bureaucratic machinery warned about by 2 Popes keeps delaying, deferring, and discussing without the necessary and immediate pastoral action that is required.
That’s the problem with this pastoral heresy which I also pointed out in my last post:
5. Death by Delegation – While the Catholic Bishops of this country bring the “big heavy” down on Development & Peace, the faithful who know what’s going on in the Church will not permit the bishops to lay all of the blame on D&P. The issue here, of course, is the episcopal penchant to delegate responsibilities (which should rightfully fall on INDIVIDUAL bishops) to church bureaucrats, nefarious committees and dubious conferences which make the decisions for them. And so, when a liberal, homosexual, or laissez-faire bishop gets control of one of these committees, you can kiss that whole pastoral concern goodbye, if you happen to be a Faithful Catholic. Problem with raunchy sex-ed in our schools? “Sorry, the Committee has ruled that every thing’s A-OK. Everyone is fully alive, after all.” Issues with abortion support in our charitable giving? “Bishop X went to Mexico. He says everything is kosher. The accused group’s leader promised him that Catholic money was being well spent on social justice initiatives.” And on and on it goes. We are a Church ruled by these Committees and Conferences. It’s not too far off from being a form of conciliarism, except in this case, it’s the Committee usurping the legitimate role of an individual bishop. It’s a real problem in the Catholic Church and this whole abortion scandal has made it very, very apparent. What the heck is the point of having a bishop if he delegates the most important decisions away to the Central Committee? We might as well be ruled by the Politbüro and the six-figure-paid, liberal bureaucrat who controls it and who really calls the shots. (Source)
These Conferences present a clear and immediate threat to the Catholic Faith because they have developed into a parallel magisterium and demanded an implicit obedience to them. Do you think this is far-fetched? I assure you that it is not. In fact, during this past summer, I saw a communication between one of the better bishops in this country and a reader of this blog concerning the Development & Peace abortion scandal. He said, almost naturally, that he was “obedient to the Conference” or similar phrase. And this was one of the good guys! That’s a real problem when the Conference is controlled by key liberals and their lackies. It is no less a problem even at the provincial level when Bishops cede their responsibility over Catholic education to one of these Church Committees. (More on this in another investigative report). And even now the Americans are now in danger of consigning their strong conservative (albeit still in a minority) episcopacy to the bureaucratic, liberal wasteland.
And check this editorial out by LifeSiteNews that was posted just yesterday…
While in Rome last month, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief John-Henry Westen and Managing Director Steve Jalsevac discussed this issue, among others, with Vatican officials. Some of these officials were well aware of, and disturbed by, the poor oversight exercised by the Canadian bishops over the distribution of many millions of dollars collected from Catholics to agencies that hold views opposed to important Catholic principles. The Vatican officials were aware of the problem because bishops and archbishops from developing nations have come to them to complain about these situations, which are undermining their own pastoral efforts in their dioceses. We were also told that this problem is not limited to the Canadian Bishop’s development agency. There have been many similar complaints about poor oversight by bishop’s conferences from other nations. (Source)
The CCCB visits this site regularly. I have a word of advice for them.
If you don’t buck up and start towing the line, the Pope might pull the rug from out under your feet, just like he did to the Magic Circle in Britain (the liberal English Episcopacy) with the Anglican Ordinariate.
Pay close attention to what Pope Benedict said above: “We must not forget that the episcopal conferences have no theological basis, they do not belong to the structure of the Church, as willed by Christ, that cannot be eliminated.
It’s the “eliminated” part that you should take particular note of. Your whole association can be disbanded for a serious reason.
If the Pope can disband the Jesuits, he can disband the CCCB for a good enough reason.
And the unborn are a very good reason indeed.
Socon or Bust will help with this dissolution in any way it can, if things don’t FUNDAMENTALLY AND SUBSTANTIALLY change within the near future.
I repeat here what I have consistently said: the greatest organizational impediment to the pro-life movement in Canada is the inaction and treachery of the CCCB over the past 40+ years.
It’s the truth, and everyone knows it.