May 23, 2001
volume 12, no. 129

An Urgent Plea: Do Not Change the Papacy

Part Three: Since the Council, well-known Prelates and theologians have asked for the reform of the Papacy

Atila Sinke Guimares, Michael J. Matt, Dr. Marian Horvat and John Vennari

    Footnotes in Blue
Dear Holy Father,

    Several of the principal players who inspired the documents of Vatican II and oriented their application, and whose progressivist theses are today considered as reference points in ecclesiastical thinking, have advocated a radical change in the power of the Papacy. We will cite a few examples.

    Cardinal Yves Congar clearly opposes the dogma defined by Pius IX and the First Vatican Council when he affirms: "Some say that only the Pope has universal jurisdiction [government] in the Church, and that the jurisdiction of the Bishops proceeds from him. In my opinion, this thesis is absolutely unacceptable . In the opposite sense, a second thesis holds that the power of the Church, even the power of the Pope, would always act as 'head of the College.' He could not act by his own power as Vicar of Christ . I strongly favor a collegial power that can be exercised by the College of the Bishops as well as by the Pope himself as its head, representing the whole body." (15)

    (15) Jean Puyo interroge le Pre Congar (Paris: Centurion, 1975), pp. 209-210.
    The same author delineates the future he desires for the Church: "The ecclesiology of the people of God will deepen into an ecclesiology of communion and fraternity. What took place at the extraordinary Synod of 1969 is quite significant and interesting. After considering the College and the collegial act in its strict juridical sense, they went on to the consideration of 'collegiality' . This means that the juridical domain and that of cooperation and co-responsibility have come together in the notion of communion . Precisely because one shares the same goods, that is, the same mission (cum munus), one is in communion . This also continued the movement that allowed Vatican II to overcome the tendency that has characterized the history of ecclesiology, at least in the West, which is to isolate structures of authority and to develop them separately. Instead, they began to find themselves inserted into the communities as a functional service." (16)
    (16) Yves Congar, "Strutture essenziali per la Chiesa di domani," in V.A. L'avvenire della Chiesa (Brescia: Queriniana, 1970), pp. 211-214.
    The thinking of the progressivist Jesuit, Fr. Karl Rahner, considered by many as one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century, exerted a remarkable influence in the documents of Vatican II. On the topic of papal power, he states: "The Bishops are subordinate executives of the Holy Father in what refers to daily affairs; in this they submit to the central authority of Rome. The Bishops consider the Nuncio of His Holiness as his representative and their immediate superior. This concept, however, is opposed to Catholic doctrine . The supreme power of the Church is exercised through the mediation of the Bishops; this was declared and reiterated with all solemnity in Vatican Council II." (17)
    (17) K. Rahner, "El principio sinodal," in La reforma que llega de Roma (Barcelona: Plaza & Janes, 1970), pp. 21-22.
    Cardinal Julius Dpfner, one of the four moderators directing the sessions of Vatican II, clearly adopted the erroneous position we pointed out in Item 2. He definitively linked the papal power to the College of Bishops as a whole: "Vatican Council II is important for its concept of the Papacy, above all because of the relationship it makes between papal power and College of Bishops. Until now, the Pope related principally with Bishops individually; now the Pope and the College of Bishops are placed side by side in a more accentuated way. Hence it appears evident that the College of Bishops holds the supreme power of the Church in the same way; that is, it has the power to teach infallibly and to guide the people of God on the path of salvation, which relates and will always relate to the Pope alone. Nonetheless, it is certain that the College of Bishops and the Pope do not hold such power independently, but only when intimately linked together." (18)
    (18) J. Dpfner, La Chiesa viventi oggi (Bari: Paoline, 1972), pp. 220-221.
    Cardinal Suenens, another of the four moderators of the Council, takes an ecumenical approach in his defense of a new formulation for the exercise of the Papacy: "For ecumenical as well as theological reasons, it is necessary to avoid any formulations of the mission of the Pope that isolate him from the College of Bishops, of which he is the head. When it is emphasized that the Pope has the right to act and to speak 'alone,' the word 'alone' never means 'separately' or 'in isolation.' Even when the Pope acts without the formal collaboration of the Episcopal Body - as he has the legal right to do - he always acts as its head." (19)
    (19) L.J. Suenens, Souvenirs et esperances (Paris: Fayard, 1991), p. 173.
With regard to collegiality, Suenens practiced what he preached. He was the one who, in 1968, spearheaded the worldwide revolt against Humanae vitae, on the grounds that Pope Paul VI had issued the Encyclical in an alleged "non-collegial" manner. (20)
    (20) In Humanae vitae, Paul VI reinforced the traditional condemnation of birth control despite the fact that the Vatican's 68-member birth-control commission had voted overwhelmingly to change the Church's teaching against contraception. Following Cardinal Suenens' lead, liberal theologians, such as those guided by Fr. Charles Curran, and the Canadian Bishops at Winnipeg, dissented from Humanae vitae based on the so-called "non-collegial nature" of its promulgation. It was Cardinal Suenens who provided the rational for their revolt. For details see "The Charismatic Cardinal Suenens," John Vennari, (Parts I, II), Catholic Family News, October and December 1997.
    The revolutionary Fr. Hans Kng defends analogous principles: "A reunification of the separated Christian churches is absolutely inconceivable and unfeasible if viewed in the light of the present Roman system, which continues to be centralist . But the situation would change completely if the Bishop of Rome were to clearly delimit his sphere of competence in relation to the various services." (21)
    (21) Hans Kng, A Igreja (Lisbon: Moraes, 1969), vol. 2, pp. 317-318.
    Kng also advises some practical measures to be instituted: "The authoritarian system of a one-man regime finds support neither in the original constitution of the Church based on the New Testament, nor in today's democratic mentality. Hence it must be replaced by a collegial government of the Church at all levels . Representative groups should be guaranteed not only the right of consultation, but also of decision-making." (22)
    (22) H. Kng, Veracidade - O futuro da Igreja (So Paulo: Herder, 1969), pp. 178-179.
He also demands: "As for the election of the Pope, it has become particularly urgent that the College of Cardinals, which is absolutely unrepresentative and completely anachronistic, hand over the election to a Council of Bishops and lay people." (23)
    (23) Ibid., p. 179.
    These are only a few examples of some of the more expressive Prelates and theologians from the progressivist current who want the Papacy to be changed.

TOMORROW: Part Four: This desire for reform was taken up by Your Holiness in the Encyclical Ut unum sint

    NOTE: For the complete book, "An Urgent Plea" write: Tradition In Action, P.O. Box 23135, Los Angeles, CA 90023 or call 1-323-725-0219 to order the book. Costs in the U.S. are $7. plus $3. for shipping and handling. Overseas orders are more for shipping. We recommend going to for more information and other books and tapes available.

May 23, 2001
volume 12, no. 129
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