Currently, as it should be, the appointment of bishops is made by the Holy Father along with consultation of curia members and other bishops. The Holy Father is not adverse to input, but he does make the final decisions. And why shouldn't he? In past dark times in the Church throughout history bishoprics were sold or granted to relatives and the result was often disastrous as moral turpitude suffered and the faith faltered. Holy Mother Church in her wisdom resorted to the earliest time of the Church when the first pope and his successors appointed the bishops. After all they are successors of the Apostles and the Apostles were not voted on by the populace or by delegates or a select group of lay and clerics, but rather by the One Who said "Thou art Peter and upon this Rock I shall build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven" (Matthew 16: 18-19). The bishops, as rightful successors of the Apostles, in union with the Church comprise the Magisterium of the Church in which the Church binds and loosens. Certain aspects of Canon Law can be loosened or tightened, the same with the liturgy; but the doctrines and dogmas, the teaching of the Church and traditions cannot be changed. Sadly, the progressives have a very difficult time distinguishing between these concepts and often profess heresy in their zeal to boost their cause.
The real issue in so many of these mandates is control. As we shall see in the remaining four mandates over the next few months, more and more the liberals want to diminish the Pope's power and "control" his appointments, control his agenda, control him. Though they are, unfortunately, making some headway with the squeaky voices of some liberal bishops carrying the progressive banner, they have to be feeling pretty low with the two recent appointments by the Holy Father of two very conservative and orthodox bishops to major dioceses in the United States: first, the appointment of Bishop Charles Chaput as the Archbishop of Denver succeeding the conservative Archbishop Francis Stafford who has been assigned to Rome, and secondly, the announcement this past week that Archbishop Francis George will be leaving his western Oregon flock to head up the second largest diocese in the United States, Chicago where he succeeds the liberal-oriented Cardinal Joseph Bernardin who died of cancer a few months ago. These two appointments solidify the core of conservativism and the "Pope's chosen ones" in the Church in the United States are growing as the liberals cling to their last vestiges of legitimacy before they bolt or come humbly back in obedience. One thing is for sure, these two appointments will help to derail any swift passage of anti-Rome objectives from all inclusive language to hierarchical selection. Bishop Chaput has always been a thorn in the side of the liberal faction of bishops at the Bishops' Conferences. Though he did not always succeed in staving off the inevitable railroad job, he did raise the conscious of many of his fellow bishops which has prompted the ordinaries of many dioceses to rethink their positions and study more in depth the documents of Vatican II as well as the Holy Father's works. There are those bishops who have already made up their minds. So be it. But there are many who, seeing the pendulum swinging back, will fall in line because it's not only the right thing but is quickly becoming the politically-expedient course to take. Consider whether Archbishop George or Bishop Chaput would have been elevated to their respective sees if the local priests, lay people and bishops of the country had voted. The answer is a resounding "no!" but the Holy Father, with wise counsel from some of the bishops, has made the right decision which will reap many fruits.
Hopefully all bishops will take to heart Saint Peter's words in 1 Peter 5: 2-4, "Tend the flock of God which is among you, governing not under constraint, but willingly according to God; nor yet for the sake of base gain, but eagerly; nor yet as lording it over your charges, but becoming from the heart a pattern to the flock. And when the Prince of the shepherds appears you will receive the unfading crown of glory."
For the laity it's best to also heed the first Pope's words in 1 Peter 5: 5-10, 12, "All of you practice humility towards one another; for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the might hand of God, that He may exalt you in the time of visitation; cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. Be sober, be watchful! For your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same suffering befalls your brethren all over the world. But the God of all grace, Who has called us unto His eternal glory in Christ Jesus will Himself, after we have suffered a little while, perfect, strengthen and estabish us...I have written to you thus briefly, exhorting and testifying that is is the true grace of God." As faithful members of the Church Militant we must be humble, obedient and ever vigilant, on guard for that roaring lion who seeks whom he might devour. The scent of the hunt today permeates churches which propose to follow man's will rather than the Divine Will Which professes and adheres to the truths of the Apostolic Church. Those who remain loyal will avoid being the prey only if they pray! The Rosary of Mary and the Sacramental life of the Church are the strongest weapons against the devil and his earthly cohorts who plot the destruction of God's Holy Church on earth. By weakening the leadership and installing a "democracy" more heresies can more easily penetrate the sanctuary and leave the sheep helpless to the fangs of the lion. The Church is not, never has been nor ever will be a democracy and the sooner the progressives awake to that fact, the sooner they will either leave the Church or, as we all pray, return in humility and obedience to all Holy Mother Church teaches and comply with the hierarchical system established by Rome.
In the next installment we will discuss the sixth mandate launched by the radicals that calls for more decision-making authority for the world's Synod of Bishops.