Is it any wonder that nobody goes to Church in France anymore?
Check out this obnoxious statement by a Cardinal from a country known for its unpleasantness. From Rorate Caeli:
LOURDES (Hautes-Pyrenees), 14 September 2008 (AFP) – Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, president of the Conference of Bishops of France, stressed that the relationship between the pope and the bishops “is not a servile relationship of subordination”.
“The relationship of the pope with the bishops is not a boss/employee relationship. He is not the CEO of a multinational corporation who is coming to visit a branch office,” said Cardinal Vingt-Trois during a press briefing held after the meeting between the pope and the bishops.
“We have welcomed him and listened to him as a brother who has come to reinforce the faith of those with whom he works and with whom he is in communion,” said the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris.
“We are in a relationship of communion, of affection, and of collaboration. And when we have things to say to him, we say them” said Cardinal Vingt-Trois.
Earlier the pope had spoke before the bishops calling for the steadfastness of the Church in the face of the challenges of the contemporary world – a speech with the tone of a directive which was met by somewhat lukewarm applause.
While it is certainly true that the relationship is not one of CEO to employees, he is also not just merely a visiting dignitary from Luxembourg. Come to think of it, I can’t imagine that they would make such an odious statement about a visiting dignitary from Luxembourg.
The hierarchy in France is living up to its deserved reputation for tepid Catholicism and bad manners.
The hierarchy in France should thankful that the relationship is not of CEO to employee for it was, they would have all likely gotten the sack.
Perhaps Pope Benedict should put some of the Bishops to the episcopal guillotine and replace them with some of the more traditional minded in France. You know who I mean. That would get their attention.
Posted by Patrick Archbold at 11:08 AM
It appears that a “clash of ecclesiologies” is taking place here. Catholic ecclesiology understands the Church to be structured “heirarchically” (Lumen Gentium 18ff) while at the same time affirming that the purpose of this hierarchical structure is to preserve the “communio” of the Church. It is possible to play the two aspects off against one another, especially when the place of the Bishop of Rome in this ecclesiology is discussed (as often happens in dialogue between East and West).
As Patrick notes, the Cardinal is quite right in saying that the relationship between the bishops and the pope is not essentially “hierachical” but rather “communal”. In other words, while the Bishop of Rome has absolute primacy among the bishops, he is not a “bishop over the bishops”. Does this mean that they do not owe “obedience” to the Holy Father? Hardly. Get a load of the “Spirit of Vatican II” in paragraph 22 of Lumen Gentium:
But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head. This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff. For our Lord placed Simon alone as the rock and the bearer of the keys of the Church,(156) and made him shepherd of the whole flock; it is evident, however, that the power of binding and loosing, which was given to Peter, was granted also to the college of apostles, joined with their head. This college, insofar as it is composed of many, expresses the variety and universality of the People of God, but insofar as it is assembled under one head, it expresses the unity of the flock of Christ. In it, the bishops, faithfully recognizing the primacy and pre-eminence of their head, exercise their own authority for the good of their own faithful, and indeed of the whole Church, the Holy Spirit supporting its organic structure and harmony with moderation.
That’s Vatican TWO, folks, not Vatican ONE. It is why the Eastern Orthodox Churches say that nothing has changed in the Catholic Church regarding our understanding of the role of the Bishop of Rome.
Of course, they are only partly right in this. What has happened is that the “communal” aspect of the relationship between the bishops and the pope (which Cardinal Vingt-Trois emphasises) has been added to the pre-Conciliar hierarchical understanding of the relationship. But the hierarchical relationship still remains as real and important as ever, and should never be played off against the communal relationship in a sort of “clash of ecclesiologies”.