DAILY CATHOLIC for February 13-15
Vatican II
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vol, 9
no. 32

The Church is Hierarchical
     We will resume our segment on the Sacred Liturgy next week with the focus on the ministers of the Word and the Canon of the Mass. However, in relationship with the series begun yesterday on the vision of Saint John Bosco and the vital importance of loyalty to the Pope, we bring you a special segment on the Hierarchy of the Church which proves the Vatican II council fathers did not "downsize" the Pope or diminish his powers as many liberals would lead us to believe. They did not give the bishops power over the Holy Father as so many radicals insist. They did not declare Holy Mother Church a democracy where everybody's voice would have impact as so many modernists clamor for. No, the Second Vatican Council merely reinforced what has always been standard in the Church - the supremacy of the Pope as head of the Church who governs over all! To prove this, we go to the source: the Vatican Council Postconciliar Documents, expertly compiled by the revered Dominican Austin P. Flannery in two volumes.

      The following is taken from VATICAN COUNCIL II, VOLUME II, More Postconciliar Documents; General Editor Austin Flannery, O.P. Costello Publishing Company, Chapter II, pages 375-6, 378-380 on the The Church is Hierarchical , Chapter III. THE CHURCH, Paragraphs 22, 24, and 25.

     The college or body of bishops has for all that no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peterís successor, as its head, whose primatial authority, let it be added, over all whether pastors or faithful, remains in its integrity. For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, namely, and as pastor of the entire Church, has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered. The order of bishops is the successor to the college of the apostles in their role as teachers and pastors, and in it the apostolic college is perpetuated. Together with their head, the Supreme Pontiff, and never apart from him, they have supreme and full authority over the universal Church. (27);

    (27): Cf. Zinelli's Relatio on Vatican Council I: Mansi 52, 1109C
but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff. The Lord made Peter alone the rock (Mt. 16:18-19), and constituted him shepherd of his whole flock (cf. Jn. 21:15 ff). It is clear, however, that the office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter (Mt. 16:19), was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head (Mt. 18:18; 28:16-20). (28).
    (28)Cf. Vatican Council I, Schema on the Dogmatic Constitution II, de Ecclesia Christi, c. 4: Mansi 53, 310. Cf. Kleutgen's Relatio on the reformed schema: Mansi 53, 321 B-322 B and Zinelli's Declaratio: Mansi 52, 111: A. See also St. Leo, Martyr, Serm. 4. 3: PL
This college, in so far as it is composed of many members, is the expression of the multifariousness and universality of the People of God; and of the unity of the flock of Christ, in so far as it is assembled under one head. In it the bishops, whilst loyally respecting the primacy and pre-eminence of their head, exercise their own proper authority for the good of their faithful, indeed even for the good of the whole Church, the organic structure and harmony of which are strengthened by the continued influence of the Holy Spirit. The supreme authority over the whole Church, which this college possesses, is exercised in a solemn way in an ecumenical council. There never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter's successor. And it is the prerogative of the Roman Pontiff to convoke such councils, to preside over them and to confirm them. This same collegiate power can be exercised in union with the pope by the bishops while living in different parts of the world, provided the head of the college summon them to collegiate action, or at least approve or freely admit the corporate action of the unassembled bishops, so that a truly collegiate act may result.

     The canonical mission of the bishops, on the other hand, can be made by legitimate customs that have not been revoked by the supreme and universal authority of the Church, or by laws made or acknowledged by the same authority, or directly by Peterís successor himself. Should he object or refuse the apostolic communion, then bishops cannot be admitted to office.

     ...Bishops who teach in communion with the Roman Pontiff are to be revered by all as witnesses of divine and Catholic truth; the faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their bishopsí decision, made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a ready and respectful allegiance of mind. This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and that one sincerely adhere to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention, which is made known principally either by the character of the documents in question, or by the frequency with which a certain doctrine is proposed, or by the manner in which the doctrine is formulated.

     Although the bishops, taken individually, do not enjoy the privilege of infallibility, they do, however, proclaim infallibly the doctrine of Christ on the following conditions: namely, when, even though dispersed throughout the world but preserving for all that amongst themselves and with Peterís successor the bond of communion, in their authoritative teaching concerning matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement that a particular teaching is to be held definitively and absolutely. This is still more clearly the case when, assembled in an ecumenical council, they are, for the universal Church, teachers of and judges in matters of faith and morals, whose decisions must be adhered to with the loyal and obedient assent of faith. (41)

    (41): Code of Canon Law, c. 1322-1323.

     ...The Roman Pontiff head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithfulówho confirms his brethren in the faith (cf.Lk.22:32)...he proclaims in an absolute decision a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. (42)

    (42): Cf. Vatican Council I, Const. Dogm. Pastor aeternus: Denz 1839 (3074).
For that reason his definitions are rightly said to be irreformable by their very nature and not by reason of the assent of the Church, in as much as they were made with the assistance of the Holy Spirit promised to him in the person of blessed Peter himself; and as a consequence they are in no way in need of the approval of others, and do not admit of appeal to any other tribunal. For in such a case the Roman Pontiff does not utter a pronouncement as a private person, but rather does expound and defend the teaching of the Catholic faith as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the Churchís charism of infallibility is present in a singular way. (43).
    (43): Cf. Gasser's explanation of Vatican Council I: Mansi 52, 12-13 AC.
The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peterís successor, they exercise the supreme teaching office. Now, the assent of the Church ca never be lacking to such definitions on account of the same Holy Spiritís influence through which Christís whole flock is maintained in the unity of the faith and makes progress in it. (44).
    (44): Gasser. ibid: Mansi 1214 A.

Next installment: we will focus on the ministers of the Word and the Canon of the Mass as we resume the Sacred Liturgy segment.

February 13-15, 1997 volume 9, no. 32
Vatican II Verifications

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