For once I’m on Obama’s side!

I have decided not to be worked up about the Obama regime downgrading relations with the Holy See by closing the embassy building.

After all, Pope Francis is downgrading his own relations with the Holy See, by planning to devolve responsibilities to the regional bishops conferences.

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  1. Fr AJ says:

    This might work with the Orthodox because of their strong connection and loyalty to tradition but I’m not so sure about it working with us, many of our people have the idea that tradition is what’s been groovy since 1969.

  2. lana says:

    This is not something Pope Francis just dreamed up. This is called for in Vatican II and has not been implemented, and Pope Francis apparently has decided it is the time to do so. I have a couple of good links to dig up…..

  3. Caesar says:

    Legitimate decentralization is one thing; empowering the regional episcopal conferences, many of which are far more corrupt than even the Roman bureaucracy, is quite another.

  4. lana says:

    Here is an excellent analysis of VII documents from Catholic Culture, showing the areas where Pope Francis is calling for implementation.

    I will quote the relevant excerpts from Sections 3 and 6.

    From section 3 (Lumen Gentium):

    Specific Problem 1: Bishops tended to be regarded as junior administrators serving under the centralized Church in Rome, and not as vicars of Christ in their own dioceses.

    Specific Solution 1: The Constitution contains a major, pivotal section on the nature and dignity of the episcopate which encourages bishops to come fully into their own as successors of the apostles and part of the college of bishops which presides, in union with its head, over the Church.

    From section 6, Decree Concerning the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church (Christus Dominus)

    Problem: As already indicated, there was tendency for the episcopate to regard itself primarily as part of the administrative apparatus of the universal Church rather than as successors of the apostles making Christ present and active in their local communities.

    Solution: The Council enjoined bishops to preserve and profess the truth, dispense the sacred mysteries, care especially for their priests, and be solicitous for the welfare of all within their jurisdiction, as well as understanding their collective responsibility for the universal Church. All in the Church are to collaborate with their bishops for the good of souls; local rights of presentation, nomination and reservation of pastors are to be suppressed; religious orders must be subject to the bishop in the matter of the care of souls. Councils of advisors should be established to assist the bishops. (There is nothing about vast bureaucratic episcopal “conferences”.)

  5. Supertradmum says:

    Well, we shall have to agree to disagree. I see this as a major snub and cutting off of the communications between one of the world’s greatest powers and the Vatican.

    In times of persecution, which are coming, the local Church will have to be stronger and more concerned with local communications via the Bishop. However, from where I am standing in Iowa, this need for getting ready seems unreal to most people.

    Communication is of the utmost importance, and not by cell phone, or tweet, or even blogs-we need people to people communication for the Church to survive in most areas.

  6. cdet1997 says:

    I’m a bit baffled by Obama’s actions here. The Catholic Church is the oldest, most widespread, and most entrenched intelligence network in the world. Why would you do anything to encumber diplomatic ties with it?

  7. Bosco says:

    Yes. There is frequently no difference between the style of these two men.

  8. Lin says:

    I doubt that I will ever find myself taking Obama’s side. But I sure am more than baffled and displeased with the Pope’s announcement on decentralization!?!?! Father Z…….please spin this one for me. I am offering up my lack of peace in my heart for the poor souls in purgatory! Happy Thanksgivng everyone!

  9. RJHighland says:

    This is why I say Pope Frances is the complete Pope of Vatican II. If his plans go through the Church will become a democracy rather than a Hierarchy. Which it slowly has been becoming with the Bishops conferences in countries and priests councils in dioceses diminishing the authority of Bishops to Church boards diminishing the authority of priests. That will not happen however because that would be Hell prevailing against the Church would we not agree? So one of two things will happen Christ will return as king and rescue his people or Pope Frances will recant and get the Church back on track. I think this swings on what is going on in Germany right now, we will see how our Holy Father responds. I truly believe Pope Benedict XVI wrote Sumorum Pontificum for the increased developement of the TLM for this day to help save as many souls as possible and quicken the growth and strengthen the remnant of the traditional Faith. We shall see. I have a sense however that Pope Frances will step up to his calling.

  10. romanrevert says:

    I think it has everything to do with Pope Francis working to minimize the office of the Papacy. This is not an isolated incident – look at some of the comments and actions he made immediately after being elected. No surprise here. Stick to Tradition folks. Almighty God is charge of His Church. Avoid the novelties of the past 50 years. Stick to Tradition. Pray for the Holy Father, stay close to him, and pray for our Bishops … but stick to Tradition!

  11. anilwang says:

    Fr Z wrote “After all, Pope Francis is downgrading his own relations with the Holy See, by planning to devolve responsibilities to the regional bishops conferences.”

    I think its far too early to know what Pope Francis has in mind. He might simply be broadening the curia to include representatives from all countries, and given his desire that bishops stay close to home, he might attempt to use the social media to allow the broadened curia to collaborate without being physically in Rome. From the Uruguayans and Argentinian’s I know, I get the sense that Argentina and Uruguay feel unjustly suppressed and left out of the world stage. Given this, it’s not surprising that the Pope would bring that desire for South America to have a greater role.

    Given the current doctrinal crisis in Germany and Austria and the sex abuse scandal is directly the result of national bishops conferences covering up the abuse and it was only the Vatican’s intervention that allowed for the situation to be reversed, I seriously doubt he’d all devolve power to the local bishops conferences. Such complete devolution also hurts Churches in persecuted countries such as China where the state has attempted to usurp the Church.

    I also don’t see world leaders coming to this understanding that the Pope is devolving the Holy See. Otherwise, why would President Putin be so interested in forming alliances with the Holy See rather than just forming alliances with the major bishop’s conferences? Obama’s interest in downgrading is simple. He’s already downgraded God, respect for religion of any kind, and the Holy See is working against several things on his agenda, so downgrading relations with the Holy See is just the next logical step.

  12. Urs says:

    That is a SCARY thought! –the USCCB! I do not trust them….I am sorry, I just don’t….trust them to be in communion with Peter….my experience has not led me to trust that they will be….like Pope John Paul II said, We are in the final confrontation….between the Church and the antichurch, the gospel and the antiGospel.
    Luke 22:31-32
    Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE
    31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,[plural] that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you[singular] that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”
    I fear that the antiChurch and the antiGospel is alive and well in the USA(and the USCCB} while the Church and the Gospel are struggling. I fear Judas.
    I shall keep praying for them all that it will make them more aware of themselves as shepherds and bring out the best…
    I -We-work out my salvation -our salvation- in fear and trembling…

  13. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    For many years now, secularists and leftists aligned with the Culture of Death have been working to get rid of the Vatican presence at the United Nations. The Vatican has been a voice – one of the very few such voices – at the UN favoring the family, the rights of parents, and opposing abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage. Each time the Vatican is able to carry the day on one of these issues, the Culture of Death department at the UN is livid. The Culture of Death solution: eject the Vatican from the UN.

    To date they have been unable to succeed in doing so. Although the argument has been made that the Vatican is not a an actual nation and thus should not have UN membership, the fact that the Vatican enjoys (used to enjoy) full diplomatic relations with major states such as the United States have tended to argue in favor of her status as a UN member.

    Now, not as much as before. I believe the efforts of those who want to remove the Vatican from the UN will now gain momentum.

  14. McCall1981 says:

    Given his homily today, maybe he really does think the tough times are coming and that we will be forced to rely on our local churches.

  15. kpoterack says:

    Well, the devil, if there is one in this matter, will be in the details – in regards to curial reform and the national bishops conferences. I agree with Anil Wang that it is a little early to tell. The only things I have heard the Holy Father say specifically were in regards to investigations of doctrinal orthodoxy of theologians – about the backlog of such cases in the CDF. I think he said something like, “shouldn’t more bishops and bishops’ conferences be handling these things?” And I agree. If more of them actually did handle such things, the Church’s life would be so much better.

  16. Clinton R. says:

    Maybe this is why the prophecy of St. Malachy has this as the last papacy, as Pope Francis just might bring the it to an end. No more papal tiara, no throne, the papacy has gradually been reduced since the pontificate of Paul VI, and now this, increased collegiality. I just can’t understand this obsession with giving the bishops more authority when we can see clearly that they fail at there sacred duty to shepherd the flock. The German bishops are at the precipice of a schism, the US bishops have allowed abortion and homo marriage to become law without much protest, and the UK bishops have likewise been weak in the same aspect. So how is giving them more authority going to be a good thing? Just more post Vatican II madness, I suppose. I pray for Pope Francis, and I do believe he is doing good, but I am also aware he is a product of the Vatican II era that sees tradition as a hindrance rather than something to preserve.

  17. catholictrad says:

    Bishop conferences are controlled by the “magisterium of theologians”. The bishops who wanted more control wrested from the Curia wound up losing all of the freed control to the powers of the conferences. It was far better for bishops to be in communion with the Pope (Peter) than to be controlled by forces outside Scripture and Tradition. Just another very bad idea dreamed up by Rahner, Congar,

  18. anilwang says:

    Fr AJ says: “This might work with the Orthodox because of their strong connection and loyalty to tradition”

    Correction, loyalty with tradition tempered by economia and an inability for different jurisdictions to come to a common agreement on some basic doctrines. For instance, the Russian and Greek Orthodox have pretty much adopted the Anglican Lambeth compromise on contraception saying it’s okay as long as you consult a priest, while other jurisdictions (I believe the Bulgarians) consider even NFP to be sinful. Similarly, it’s possible to be in bad standing WRT a divorce in one jurisdiction and be in good standing in another. The validity of Catholic baptism, confirmation, and marriage also varies from jurisdiction to jurisdictions. Some require Catholic converts to have all three to be redone, while others only require confirmation to be redone. Some treat Anglican Orders as valid as Catholic Orders while others make a distinction or treat both as invalid. Then there’s the situation with Metropolitan Jonah likely being forced out of office by the homosexual lobby (google the Orthodox press for details).

    In short, it’s a doctrinal mess but because the Orthodox are divided it’s possible to turn a blind eye to local variations on doctrine and focus on what all jurisdictions have in common and assume that “all that really matters is that you’re Orthodox, and not Catholic or Protestant”….much the same as modern Protestants recognize each other despite being in different denominations with different doctrines.

    This is not a path the Catholic Church needs to go down. The Catholic Church is no bed of roses and silent dissent exists in many nations, but the official doctrine even in countries of dissent is unchanged and there is no way for dissenting nations to cover it up. That being said, if the Orthodox were able to a global synod of all jurisdictions (something that hasn’t been possible for decades due to power plays), I suspect that the various doctrinal differences would be settled pretty close to what Catholics now hold as official doctrine, and that if the department of the curia were composed of bishops from each jurisdiction of the world (which is what I understand Pope Francis desires), I don’t think they’d change doctrine….although if they tried the Pope still can intervene and correct it.

  19. ChrisRawlings says:

    I honestly see absolutely zero benefit to harping on the same, old canards about your perceived horrors of Vatican II. It gets tiring, really.

    With regards to decentralization, the pope may be considering the value of subsidiarity when it comes to ecclesial governance. If the Germans want schism, they’ll get it whether it is formal or informal. Having a centralized papacy probably doesn’t stop that from happening any more than a decentralized one.

  20. Raymond says:

    Just to inject some historical perspective, the common image of the Catholic Church as hierarchical and centralized in Rome only started in around 1870, with the loss of the Papal States. For centuries before that, and even for some years after, each Catholic head of state (all monarchs until the emergence of Latin American republics) was actively involved in episcopal appointments, control of the religious orders (remember the suppression of the Jesuits in the 1770’s?), and occasionally interfered with the Papacy (i.e. 1300’s Avignon; Emperor Charles V sack of Rome in 1529, etc.). In fact, the last secular ruler to give up the right to appoint bishops was the King Juan Carlos of Spain in 1976. So, in some way, the whole idea of giving more control to national episcopal conferences isn’t entirely new or without precedence.

  21. Cathy says:

    With responsibility and authority comes accountability. Too often, the meme from the USCCB is that the bishops will not act without the direction of the Vatican, and then, when the pope or the CDF responds in a manner in which to guide their actions, they are ignored. What to do about politicians who promote grave evils presenting themselves for Holy Communion? What to do about Catholic educational institutions that see Ex Corde Ecclessia as a threat but will bend over backwards to implement Common Core and defend any fashionable proposal against what the Church teaches. I’ll be honest, the bishop who needs a plethora of advisers and committees and boards to respond, well, has he lost common sense? You have a hundred rogue priests who commit themselves to contraception/abortion/women ordination/homosexuality/divorce and remarriage as rights and they form an association and you don’t know what to do? Why?

  22. anilwang says:

    I think the key part is this “expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system…or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed.”

    He seems to be referring to original sin. Trickled down by itself does not work, especially when you add globalization to the mix. It has to be balanced by a force for morality (check and balance on original sin), otherwise capitalism turns into a global oligarchy where even politicians are bought and people are exploited whenever possible. Case in point, some pharmaceutical studies are done on poorer countries such as India with low standards and low legal recourse before they’re done in countries with stricter standards…the victims of those failed studies are often abandoned. Similarly, when Western countries ban some pharmaceuticals because they’re unsafe, the excess inventory gets diverted to poorer countries. This is pure evil, but because corporations are as faceless as government bureaucracies, decisions are often made to satisfy the bottom line without any one person believing he made those decisions.

    The key question is, what does Pope Francis believe are possible candidates for the force of morality?

    Obviously Catholic Social Teaching must be a candidate. An economy driven by trickled down balanced by Catholic Social Teaching inevitably leads to the prosperity of all. But does Pope Francis believe there are other “good enough” candidates, such as the state? I’m not familiar with Pope Francis’ political views but given his past run in with the Argentinian government, I suspect that he might not be a statist.

  23. anilwang says:

    Please ignore the above posting. I posted it in the wrong thread.

  24. kpoterack says:

    “With regards to decentralization, the pope may be considering the value of subsidiarity when it comes to ecclesial governance. If the Germans want schism, they’ll get it whether it is formal or informal. Having a centralized papacy probably doesn’t stop that from happening any more than a decentralized one.”

    Well . . . this, in a nutshell, is what it is all about. Good bishops (and bishops’ conferences) make Vatican curial oversight unnecessary – or at least much less necessary. When bishops ‘man up’ and run their dioceses well, then they are exercising their true responsibility. If this keeps up, good. (Overall, at least the American bishops have been getting much better.) On the other hand . . . when they don’t, Rome has to intervene. That is why I think we have to put what the pope wrote about “decentralization” in the context of what he has also said about the “hermeneutic of continuity” AND the article and letter by Archbishop Mueller to the German diocese on remarried divorcees and eucharistic communion. (AND such things as the excommunication of the Australian priest.)

    I think that Pope Francis prefers such things to be handled on the local level, but when they aren’t he obviously isn’t opposed to Vatican intervention. He may even learn through bitter experience that there will still have to be much more Vatican intervention than he had planned on. Let’s pray for him.

  25. Bosco says:


    I read the link you attached to your comment. Considering Pope Francis’ recent reference to Robert Hugh Benson’s “Lord of the World” as ‘prophetic’, you may well be right in your observation…even down to the Cardinals who are effectively in charge of regions of the Church due to the onslaught of the (American) Anti-christ.

  26. robtbrown says:

    1. It is one thing to strengthen each diocesan bishop, quite another to invest power in territorial episcopal conferences, which, as I think Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out, have no basis in Revelation. Does anyone actually think that the UK conference, still influenced by Cormac Murphy O’Connor, is adequate for much else than Anglican ecumenism? Or the German episcopal conferences? Does anyone remember the US bishops when Cardinal Bernardin was the kingfish? How about the CYOA US episcopal procedures for sexual problems with priests?

    Such dependence on territorial conferences undermine the supranational character of the Church.

    2. One point to keep in mind is that, despite their history of extreme top down centralization, the Jesuits preferred local education for their own men. And they tended not to send their big guns to teach at the Gregoriana. On the other hand, the Dominicans, whose history is more democratic, loaded up the Angelicum with top talent.

  27. monmir says:

    The closing of the embassy is probably going to start discussion again to remove the Holy See from the UN, giving more responsibilities to bishop conferences is going to diminish the hierarchy and as for the same sex marriage when we will have heard again and again about the right of women to be priests then it will be “passed”. Pope Francis is also surrundering the Vatican Bank to European watch, and is downgrading his position as Pope.
    Pope Francis may be the last Pope.
    Weekly confessions.

  28. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I have just read that the Dutch bishops have left questions 5 a and b and all of 8 out of their version of the Vatican questionnaire…

  29. Mr. Green says:

    Monmir: Pope Francis may be the last Pope.

    I guess he may be. But if the Lord wills that he tarry till He come, what is that to us?

  30. Sword40 says:

    I just wish Obama would leave the U.S. alone and go on vacation for the next 3 years. Perhaps leaving the Vatican alone will help matters.

  31. anna 6 says:

    Ken Hackett, the new US ambassador to the Vatican claims that relations with the Vatican under Francis have been improved. But the cynic in me thinks that is probably because the Obama administration perceives (wrongly…hopefully) that Francis is going to soften the US bishops stances on abortions, marriage, etc. thereby making it easier for them to get away with what they have been doing.

  32. Siculum says:


    I totally get you, Father. Just like your, “But hey! Who am I to judge?”

    Maybe… just maybe… juridical status of episcopal conferences will mean that they could be somehow “reigned in,” and disallowed from having such… well… free reign, for lack of better verbiage. Maybe there’ll be a Congregation for Episcopal Conferences, which’ll work closely with CDF, Clergy, and CICLSAL, and all the conferences of the world will have to register and conform with the Congregation for Episcopal Conferences, if they want to be called “Catholic,” just like the new .catholic Internet domains coming out.

    And maybe pigs will fly.

    Am I pipe-dreaming? Probably. But you never know. Franciscum papam est. You never know.

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