Part Thirty Three:

Wake-up Call to all Catholics - the ninth clarion

"Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church,
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven."

(Matthew 16: 18-19)

Continuing in our rebuttal of the nine global mandates made by the radical "we are church" organization and exposed in the January issue of Catholic World Report in short version form, we treat the sixth mandate set forth by the radical minority "we are church" who, though they call themselves "Catholic," their agenda wreaks more of a protestant mentality than the One, True, Catholic and Apostolic Faith that has withstood every obstacle for nearly 2000 years. These obstacles Holy Mother Church will withstand, too, but what is the price? Those who are battering at the ramparts of the Holy See with these demands call themselves "Catholic" but the truth is they are not, for to be Catholic means to be in union with Rome and in obedience to the Magisterium of the Church. These mandates have been put forth by the retired Archbishop of San Francisco - liberal-oriented John R. Quinn who has been an outspoken vocal critic of the Holy Father for many years.

The sixth clash of symbols and cymbals:

6. The proposal to give the world's Synod of Bishops decision-making authority.

This is the sixth mandate proposed by the liberal Catholic faction - they call themselves "progressive" Catholics as writer Russell Shaw relates in his special article in the January issue of the greatly respected Ignatius Press magazine. This is something many progressives have been working toward for many years in their attempt to split from Rome. The sixth mandate along with the seventh, eighth and ninth mandates involve the bishops in an attempt to diminish the Pope's role. It is a last-ditch effort to stem the tide of conservative appointments Pope John Paul II has been making to shift the balance of power to the traditional, orthodox side. This is evident in the Holy Father's recent appointments here in the United States of Bishop Charles Chaput and Francis George as new archbishops of Denver and Chicago respectively. The progressives feel as long as the Pope and the Roman Curia continue to appoint more conservatives there only chance is to put all their bullets in the "collegiality" issue. The Holy Father knows this and many believe that he will soon hold a synod outlining the role of the bishops which would defeat the liberals' plans. Many also believe there is a possibility that John Paul II is setting up a "head-on confrontation with the progressives and a challenge to their agenda" as Russell Shaw writes.

The progressives want the Pope to be "one of the guys" rather than "Thee Guy!" in a manner of speaking. We need to outline the powers and gifts of the bishops and their responsibilities to better understand how the progressive agenda will never work. First of all, the Roman Catholic Church has always given the primacy of honor and jurisdiction to Saint Peter and his successors who are the Popes in an unbroken line over nearly two centuries. The Apostles were the first bishops but Peter was the "Chief Apostle" appointed so by Christ (cf. Matthew 16: 18) and confirmed in John 1: 42 when Jesus announced that Peter's name would be "Cephas" which means "rock." Also, Jesus commended Peter personally to "Feed My sheep" in John 21: 15-17 after His Resurrection. Bishop Louis Laravoire Morrow writes, "the sheep of Christ are those who submit to Him, the Good Shepherd (John 10: 14). Never did Christ say to any other Apostle: Feed My whole flock. As the shepherd is responsible for the flock, he is given authority comparable to his responsibility. Christ also conferred on Peter special marks of distinction not conferred on the other Apostles." All the Apostles recognized Peter's appointment and submitted totally to him including Saint Paul after his conversion (cf. Galatians 1: 18). In Acts 15: 7-12 during the First Council of Jerusalem as considerable disputing was ensuing, Peter spoke and all submitted to his wisdom. In Acts 2: 14, it confirms that the supreme pontiff, descended from Peter, is the "teacher of all Christians," the "chief shepherd of the shepherds and their flocks:" "But Peter, standing up with the Eleven, lifted up his voice and spoke out to them: 'Men of Judea and all you who dwell in Jerusalem, and give ear to my words." Finally, of all the early churches that were established by the Apostles, the Church of Rome was the highest in rank and has always been called the See of Peter. Yet, the Protestants deny this supremacy over the other Apostles. Ergo, the progressive agenda is Protestant in concept.

"As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." The Pope, bishops and priests compose the hierarchy - the ruling body of the "teaching Church" which, in essence is the Magisterium. Something which has been forgotten since Vatican II is that the "hearing Church" is still the faithful, the laity and religious who do not have the privilege of holy orders. Another fallacy that has been perpetrated by the progressives is that those lay persons who are appointed by the bishops to teach within each diocese as well as the diocesan publications in each diocese are part of the Magisterium because they are working in concert with the bishop. Their logic is way off base. First of all, they had better be working in concert with the bishop and the bishop better be working in concert with the Pope or even he cannot be considered "legitimate" Magisterium. But lay people are not part of the hierarchy and therefore cannot be members of the Magisterium. One can easily see the progressives' cunning plot to promote the universality of lay teachers as part of the Magisterium to gain ammunition with the liberal bishops as a large block to offset the true hierarchical line. Sadly, the majority of these lay teachers in many dioceses are promulgating liberal ideas that often border on heresy. Recently this author questioned the editor of a diocesan publication for quotes attributed to one of these liberal teachers and the editor shot back that how dare I question his publication for he as well as the said teacher were part of the Magisterium. Wrong!

Just like the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force are not a democracy, so also the Roman Catholic Church. There are too many generals today in the person of liberal bishops and dissident liberal theologians who are trying to plan strategy and lead. The bishops are the major-generals, so to speak, of the huge army of the Church with the faithful making up the infantry, if you will. They command certain divisions of the army but they do not head the entire Army. That duty is left to the Commander-in-Chief who, of course, is the Pope. Under him there are various descending ranks such as the cardinals, archbishops, titular bishops or metropolitans, bishops, Vicar Apostolics, Monsignors, and then the priests who act, so to speak, as the captains of each "platoon" or parish with lieutenants under them such as assistant pastors or curates. The Majors above them are the deaneries or vicar foranes who have supervisory jurisdiction over neighboring parishes just as an Archbishop is over neighboring bishops. All of these "officers" or ranks work in unison to assist the Colonels and Generals (Bishops, Archbishops, and Cardinals) in the care of souls and leading the Church Militant. One will notice that while lay organizations may be organized by the above "officers," they do not have a say in the orders given and do not comprise the ranks of officer. They are merely high-ranking "enlisted corps" who assist the officers. In a word, they are not members of the Magisterium. But they are required to obey the Magisterium just as the regular troops are and when they don't it is akin to mutiny! That is what is happening within the Church today with the dissenting progressives trying to plot their own strategy apart from the Commander-in-chief's directives...namely the Holy Father.

A further argument against the progressives is the question of infallibility. The Pope is not infallible except when speaking ex-cathedra or officially regarding questions on faith and morals. Any other time he is speaking we must remember that he, like every man, is human and can make errors although we defy anyone to find error in the teachings of the great John Paul II!!! When he speaks in Papal Exhortations, Papal Bulls, Apostolic Letters, and Encyclicals he is speaking as the Vicar of Christ in his capacity as Pope and addressing the entire Church. In this capacity he is a "private teacher." However when he speaks ex-cathedra and on doctrine and writes "We proclaim" or "We define" it could very well be infallible as Saint Augustine affirmed in 417 when Rome condemned Pelagianism by saying, "Rome has spoken; the cause is ended." In other words, the Pope said it, we believe it, that settles it! In the often-referred-to encyclical Lumen Gentium on the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church it states, "And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith, by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals. And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infalllibility of the Church itself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic faith."

Conversely, the infallibility of the Pope and bishops acting in unison applies only when the bishops are speaking individually on the ratified and approved doctrines and dogmas as Lumen Gentium affirms, "The infallibility promised to the Church resides also in the body of Bishops, when that body exercises the supreme magisterium with the successor of Peter. To these definitions the assent of the Church can never be wanting, on account of the activity of that same Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith." The other question of infallibility regarding the body of bishops occurs when they are all convened in a general or ecumenical council, representing the teaching body of the Church. Lumen Gentium specifically states, "Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ's doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held." The infallibility factor of council fathers in total unison has occurred in almost every ecumenical council except the last one - Vatican II. Our statement here refers to the fact that the decrees of a General Council have no binding authority until confirmed by the Pope and there is no appeal by the Pope to a General Council. Yet, at the end of the Second Vatican Council Pope Paul VI appealed to the Council to increase the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary and he was rebuked. On top of that, neither he nor any Pope after him has ever ratified the documents of Vatican II. That last revelation means that the changes instituted after Vatican II are basically in "Limbo" and this leads to even more speculation as to what will happen within the Church as we near the next millennium. No wonder there is so much confusion rampant today. The liberals want to not only ratify everything but accept the radical changes that have taken place. They can't do that if they can't control the bishops and that is their agenda, or we should say to control the Pope by controlling the bishops.

Finally we must remember two things. First, it is contingent upon every single person to obey the Ten Commandments and the fourth is to honor and obey thy father and mother. The Pope is the "Father of the Church." Papa comes from the Latin word meaning "father." Therefore obedience is manditory as St. Paul tells us in Hebrews 13: 17. As members of the Mystical Body of Christ we do not have a choice regarding obedience; we must be loyal to the Vicar of Christ and obey him in spiritual matters since He is the visible head of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, of which we are the members. Therefore we must not only obey him but honor him and respect his authority. Hierarchy and laity together, without exception are subject to the Holy Father and are bound to yield to him perfect and absolute obedience in all spiritual matters. Secondly, everyone must remember and realize that the Pope can make and unmake laws for the whole Church. His authority is supreme and cannot be questioned. In addition, every bishop, priest and member of the Church is subject to him. Holy Mother Church is not a democracy! The bishops can make laws for their own diocese and by a general or ecumenical council for the entire Church but, they have no clout if they do not have the Holy Father's full approval. He is the head of the Church. The Pope's authority comes from Jesus Who chose Peter as Head of His Church and as his direct successor we have no choice but to obey the Vicar of Christ just as Our Lord commanded everyone to obey Peter. It's the only way. Besides no society can exist for long without the power to govern its members. There is no government that can exist for long without laws. If the Church did not have the power and right to make laws, she would not be able to lead her members to Heaven. Obedience is the key! In Matthew 18: 17-18 Jesus said, "If he refuse to hear them, appeal to the Church, but if he refuse to hear even the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican. Amen I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in Heaven." This power is called the "power of the keys" and we all know to whom these keys were first given! The last thing for all progressives to remember, no matter what their leanings is that we have an obligation to obey the Pope and the Church for disobedience to the Church is disobedience to God!

In the next installment we will discuss the seventh mandate launched by the radicals that deals with convoking the Third Vatican Council as well as holding ecumenical councils at regular intervals.