The Roman Exercise of Authority

Fr. John Z. has been posting reactions of different bishops and liturgical officers to Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio allowing use of the 1962 Missale Romanum.

It’s an interesting illustration of the Roman exercise of authority. Some bishops are quite happy with the pope’s decision–some aren’t. Those who aren’t find ways to insinuate that the pope really must not mean what he says, and lay additional requirements on priests and churches. They feel threatened, clearly. They don’t like the pope’s exercise of his authority, but insist upon their own.

This demonstrates, once more, that the Catholic church isn’t a monolithic institution marching in lockstep. It’s a feudal society, with various fiefdoms (including parishes and dioceses) ruled by monarchs (pastors and bishops) loosely bound together through fealty to the higher level (bishop or pope), but for the most part respecting the rights and privileges and authority of the local monarch. At times there are conflicts over authority–this is one of them.

4 thoughts on “The Roman Exercise of Authority

  1. Ahem, Bill I am very glad that you have made this point, it is very true. It is also true in decisions made by local bishops in times past that have not been the highpoints in Church history, e.g. localised persecutions.

  2. I steal all the best, and read only from the best, “Clerical Whispers” must get nothing done in the parish.

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