This is really a footnote to my recent piece on the status of episcopal conferences.
I commend to those desiring a close understanding of this subject the following three Magisterial documents, and, in particular the third:
Communionis notio (CDF 1991/2)
Dominus Iesus (CDF 2000)
Apostolos suos (S John Paul II Motu proprio 1998).
Dominus Iesus was much derided by the heterodox; the hysterical; those who had not read it; and persons falling into more than one of those categories ... in fact, a surprisingly large number of people.
For a commentary on Apostolos suos, I strongly recommend The Teaching Authority of Episcopal Conferences, Francis A Sullivan S.J., in Theological Studies 63 (2002). This is an important piece because Sullivan, as those who recall his interventions over many years will recall, is not sympathetic towards ecclesiology as expounded by Ratzinger/Benedict XVI. That makes his conclusion all the more significant: " ... these requirements are consistent with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's opinion that the teaching authority of bishops belongs only to individual bishops, and to the entire college with the pope".
This is the highly important truth which we must stick to; which it is our duty to explain to others.
Any attempt to ascribe to episcopal conferences qua conferences any competence in the field of doctrine is a very grave doctrinal error and a source of enormous practical dangers, and needs to be resisted, whoever may propound it, in every possible way.
Not least because it is those who are certain to misuse it who are the ones most likely to use it.
[In the Ordinariates we might have some (albeit small) degree of protection. The Complementary Norms accompanying Anglicanorum coetibus say that "The Ordinary follows the directives of the national Episcopal Conference insofar as this is consistent with the norms contained in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus". And the Constitution itself makes clear that "The Catechism of the Catholic Church authentically expresses the Catholic Faith, which the members of the Ordinariate confess".]