Speaking at an organisation called the Catholic University of America, Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State, recently gave a lecture which seemed to me to have some distinctly dubious implications ... to which I hope to return later in the week. Just for today, however, a couple of weeny details.
His Eminence based the mission of Episcopal Conferences in the sacramental origin of the episcopal ministry; "in other words, these conferences are really 'episcopal': they have their raison d'etre not in a sociological principle of collaboration, but in the implementation of the ministry conferred on each bishop with episcopal consecration".
Interestingly, this appears to run contrary to PF's 'ecumenical' practice. PF meets ministers which are called 'bishops' but who belong to sects which do not possess or claim the Apostolic Succession and do not regard episcopal (or any) ordination as a sacrament. And he makes clear that he regards them as truly bishops. "We bishops", PF pointedly says to them in between the hugs. Clearly, Parolin is on a divergence course from PF in this matter. It is remarkable that he has chosen to make his disagreement so public, especially considering the symptoms of paranoia in PF revealed recently in an interview given by Cardinal Mueller (PF: "they tell me you're my enemy").
Secondly: Latin Catholicism has tended to have an immensely juridical style to it. Sacramental 'consecration' is not enough; a man must also have a missio canonica before he (lawfully) goes bishopping. He needs to have been given jurisdiction in a canonical way which may accompany, but is distinct from, his Consecration. This attitude lay behind the insistence that when Pope Ratzinger remitted the excommunications incurred latae sententiae by the SSPX bishops, they still possessed no licit ministry whatsoever in the Church Militant.
Parolin, in so exclusively emphasising the sacramental rather than the canonical or juridical, clearly implies that if his Excellency Bishop Fellay were to knock on the door of the Swiss Episcopal Conference, their excellencies would welcome him warmly. "My dear fellow", una voce they would cry, "do come in and implement together with us the ministry conferred on you in your episcopal consecration".
Furthermore, if Cardinal Mueller is right in his fear that PF might be leading the Church Militant into schism and division, it will, given Cardinal Parolin's ecclesiology, be pretty unproblematic if, a decade or two down the road, some orthodox bishops consecrate more bishops sine mandato Apostolico. So there may come a time when this ... von Schoenborn would call it "this development" ... might come in useful.
Could it be that Cardinal Parolin is be one of these crypto-Lefebvreists whom we are sometimes warned to avoid?