First, let me ask: Have you read Apostolos suos yet, as I suggested elsewhere?
As the USCCB has a plenary meeting, as the CEI still hums with the Pope’s message, this comes from CNA:
Pope: Bishops’ conferences should serve bishops not replace them
Vatican City, Nov 15, 2010 / 07:18 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A national conference of Catholic bishops exists so that pastors of the Church might “share the fatigue of their labors.” But, according to Pope Benedict XVI, those national conferences can never substitute for an individual bishop’s authority and duty to guide his people.
The Pope turned a Nov. 15 address to a group of bishops from Brazil into a lesson on the function of the bishops’ conference. [Bishops are bishops also for the whole Church, and not just one little part of the Church isolated somewhere in the world. When the Vicar of Christ speaks to a group of bishops, he will surely mean to address their particular concerns, but he is also speaking to all bishops everywhere.]
Since the Second Vatican Council (1963-1965), some critics have argued that bishops’ conferences have assumed too much influence in the lives of local churches and in some cases have diminished the authority of local bishops.
In his address, Pope Benedict reminded the Brazilian Church leaders that “the counselors and structures of the episcopal conference exist to serve the bishops, not to replace them.”