6 April 2021

Is this intervention 'Magisterial'?

Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth recently gave an account of matters in which, he claimed, PF was currently not doing his 'Petrine' job by giving clear and orthodox Catholic teaching. He called upon PF to do this. 

Bishop Philip wrote: "As a Bishop, I have a responsibility not just for the Church in my diocese, but for the Universal Church." .

Does he?

The Vatican II document Christus Dominus (para 6) clearly teaches this collegial responsibility of the Episcopate. 'Collegiality', of course, and 'Vatican II' are  dodgy words to use in the hearing of some cosiddetto 'Traditionalists' (how they must hate it each February when the Collect of S Matthias comes round!). They suspect both that concept and that source. Are they right?

Readers will be aware of my own conviction that Vatican II and all the Councils except those which made strictly dogmatic pronouncements with accompanying anathemata, gradually fade into the background-noise of the Catholic Church. Does the Governorate of the Vatican City State insist that all Jewish visitors must wear the star of David? How many bishops still maintain a strict rule that all their clergy should say the Divine Office in Latin except for those who have sought and received individual permission to use a vernacular?

But Vatican II was an Ecumenical Council and may therefore be cited as such. However, for traddies who prefer the pre-Vatican II Magisterium, I will point them to the paragraph Procul dubio ... of Fidei donum: "... unusquisque Episcopus portionis tantum gregis sibi commissae sacer pastor est, tamen qua legitimus Apostolorum successor ex Dei institutione et praecepto apostolici muneris Ecclesiae una cum ceteris Episcopis sponsor fit etc..".

So it's good enough for me that Bishop Egan used the same words as Pius XII (and earlier Roman Pontiffs). The Bishop of Portsmouth does have a responsibility for the entire Church Militant, as well as for his own Diocese! He deserves all credit for recognising and using this Magisterial function.

In Easter week 2019, nineteen of us (later joined by a number of others) sent an Open Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church. In it, we called upon the world-wide episcopate to use its authority in regard to some features of this pontificate. Of course, you will find this document in (pages 127sqq of) Defending the Faith ... Arouca Press. The number of signatories was smaller than the numbers who had signed our earlier documents, but there was one bonus: Fr Aidan Nichols O.P. joined in. Nichols, one of the most learned Anglophone theologians, teacher at both Oxford and Cambrudge, author of many books, had not been much in the public forum since he read a fine paper a few years previously which had led to him being gagged. 

It was good to see his head again above the parapet!

So what is the status of his lordship's intervention?

Since he explicitly mentions his responsibilities with regard to the entire Church Militant, it is clear that these words are not the sort of light-hearted unofficial remark a person might dash off on personal media. So, yes, the words of Bishop Philip Egan are guaranteed (by his own allusion to his role as a member of the Universal collegial Episcopate) to be Magisterial! 

Not many Diocesan Bishops under the age of resigation have taken such a courageous step! Just one bishop among the the legions of the silent, you think?

No! Wrong attitude!! Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus!!




Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. No matter how bad events now seem to be, at least today's Bishops do not all have universal jurisdiction and infallibility as did the first Apostles.

Jhayes said...

The. Vatican's official English version has different paragraph breaks. "Procul dubio" is now numbered paragraphs 42 and 43. It points out that, although he is pastor of only his own flock, each bishop has a duty to support the church's missionary work throughout the world, and, at this time [1957], particularly in Africa.

Subsequent paragraphs ask bishops to encourage their flocks to pray for the African missions, donate money to them, and even to go themselves to work in the missions. Bishops are asked to send priests to work in the missions in Africa.

42. It is an undoubted fact that it was to Peter alone and to his successors, the Roman Pontiffs, that Jesus Christ entrusted the entirety of his flock: "Feed my lambs; feed my sheep."[17] But even though each bishop is the pastor of that portion only of the Lord's flock entrusted to him, nevertheless as lawful successor of the Apostles by God's institution and commandment he is also responsible, together with all the other bishops, for the Apostolic task of the Church, according to the words of Christ to the Apostles: "As the Father has sent me, I also send you."[18]

43. This mission, or "sending forth," embraces "all nations . . . even unto the consummation of the world"[19] and certainly did not cease with the death of the Apostles. Nay, it still continues in the bishops who are in communion with the Vicar of Jesus Christ. For in them, as being specifically named "those who are sent," namely, Apostles of the Lord, the fullness of the apostolic dignity resides, which as St. Thomas Aquinas testifies "is the chief dignity in the Church."[20] That apostolic fire which Jesus Christ brought upon the earth must issue from their hearts and inflame the hearts of all Our faithful children and arouse in them fresh zeal for the missionary tasks of the Church everywhere.


PM said...

But, ANS, as the medieval canonists who hammered out the theory of the papacy used to say, bishops do have a share in the government of the universal Church: in partem solicitudinis, compared to the Pope's plenitudo potestatis. Inconveniently for Pope Francis' detractors, they also averred that the Pope, whatever his faults, could be judged by no one on earth; he was answerable to God alone.

Jhayes said...

Christus Dominus does point out that bishops have a responsibility for the universal Church but it also points out that their proposed actions in relation to the universal Church are subject to the agreement of the Pope.

Therefore, It doesn’t appear that a bishop can, on his own, establish Magisterium.

4. By virtue of sacramental consecration and hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college, bishops are constituted as members of the episcopal body.(1) "The order of bishops is the successor to the college of the apostles in teaching and pastoral direction, or rather, in the episcopal order, the apostolic body continues without a break. Together with its head, the Roman pontiff, and never without this head it exists as the subject of supreme, plenary power over the universal Church. But this power cannot be exercised except with the agreement of the Roman pontiff."(2) This power however, "is exercised in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council."(3) Therefore, this sacred synod decrees that all bishops who are members of the episcopal college, have the right to be present at an ecumenical council.