There is a fear among some people with whom I converse that Pope Francis might undercut Roman curial congregations and devolve authority to regional conferences of bishops.
I am all for subsidiarity. That said, some things just don’t work well at the local level. Let’s consider the role in the Church of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for example. I would be delighted were regional conferences able to get their act together and do more of what the CDF does. But… that’s unlikely to happen, as recent history has aptly demonstrated.
Assuming that all of you have have reviewed the important 1998 document of John Paul II Apostolic suos, there is something at Kathweb about comments that the present Prefect of the CDF made concerning Francis and such a devolution.
The prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, took a stand against a decentralizing of the Church to the level of the national bishop conferences. “The Catholic Church is made up of local churches, but it is one,” said the Prefect for the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della sera: [And, as usual, I can’t find that piece, since CdS has perhaps the worse search interface anywhere. Maybe one of you can find it.] “There are no ‘national’ churches.”
The Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences are “coordinators, not Vice-Popes” stressed the Vatican’s defender of the Faith.
Pope Francis can’t simply wave aside Apostolos suos. It is a theological document, and not just disciplinary. It isn’t in itself as a document definitive credendum, but it contains affirmations that are (cf Lumen gentium). It is not to be trifled with. Müller said succinctly what the dogmatic issues are. Let me crack this open for low-information liberals.
The Catholic Church involves a Communion of local Churches, but it is not merely a communion of Churches. It is one Church. Lumen gentium makes this point. More? Okay. Local Churches are in communion with each other and with the Successor of Peter and the Church of Rome. However, they aren’t just in communion with the Vicar of Christ and the Church of Rome insofar as they are in a communion of Churches. Tracking? There’s more. Every single local Church is itself also, on its own, in communion with the Successor of Peter and the Church of Rome.
The communion of local Churches, as a communion and as individual local Churches demands the primacy of the Successor of Peter and the Church of Rome over all the others.
Furthermore, the CDF must be beefed up, not slimmed down. So too the local Churches should exercise greater oversight of all aspects of the life of the Church on the local level. Take care of business before Rome has to get involved! Be swift, clear and, please God, competent!
Lastly, former Father Greg Reynolds of Australia is still excommunicated.