Skip to comments.Anglican popes?
Posted on 04/01/2005 7:31:05 AM PST by sionnsar
A comment posted below brought up an interesting point. Are continuing Anglican churches ecclesiaistical dictatorships, with each province being headed up by a egomaniac (my words)? Not really, and here's why.
Every reputable continuing church that I know of has canons that state that the parish owns its property. So the bishop cannot lord it over a parish like, say, an episcopal or catholic bishop can. He can say what he wants to say, and pronounce anathemas out the yin-yang, but at the end of the day he can't do too much to a parish. This creates a different problem, though. ...
(Excerpt) Read more at continuinganglican.blogspot.com ...
"Every reputable continuing church that I know of has canons that state that the parish owns its property."
I've read the canons and constitutions of three (APA, APCK and REC), and they state that. Which ones don't, if I may ask?
Out here on the West Coast, the Dioceses own the land/property and the buildings. We did an earthquake retro fit on our church about 6 years ago. I went to the regional banker who I had known for over two decades to try an get a loan. The church had several checking and savings accounts with this bank/banker. So did our finance chairman and I.
He called back the next day and said that the diocese owned our land, church and buildings, therefore we had no collaterial for a loan.
We have friends and relatives in the SW, MW and on the East Coast, and their Dioceses own the land/property and buildings.
We need a few court cases to come our way.
You're in ECUSA, no? The reference was to the Continuing (non-ECUSA) churches.
"Every reputable continuing church that I know of has canons that state that the parish owns its property. So the bishop cannot lord it over a parish like, say, an episcopal or catholic bishop can."
Catholics live in a completely different world.
There isn't really any question of bishops "lording property rights over the parish". What Catholic believes, for an instant, that the parish church is anything but the local branch of the Church of Rome?
Catholics just don't think like Anglicans.
Catholics know and accept, without much comment, that they are in an absolute monarchy. There is no "tug of war" in the Catholic Church over property, because there is very clear and absolute hierarchical power. The Pope can fire a bishop on a dime. The Pope can fire a priest. The Pope can do anything. There is no basis of authority independent of Rome.
And it's not an issue.
Anglicans can split into this group and that and war with each other, but Catholics? Their church has one policy, and only one policy, and if you are a priest or a bishop that is your policy too. Now, there are priests and bishops and laity who have some disagreements and skirt around the edges and test the limits, but the point is that there are limits. Anglicans are dealing with committees and conferences. Catholics have an absolute monarch.
To put it in historical terms: sometimes you can roll Congress, but nobody ever rolled Louis XIV.
Some Catholics want some sort of changes in the Church, but there are is vehicle within the Church to organize and mount opposition to the Church, and the Church is what Rome says the Church is. Some bishops think otherwise. And from time to time they are removed and shipped off to monasteries, things like that.
Anglicans at least colorably have bargaining power and political power within their Church, and so they think that way. An Anglican could write of "bishops lording it over parishes". Catholics have no power at all and know it. Most would look at any notion that there should BE any power or democracy within the Church with deep suspicion and theological concern.
Bottom line: Catholics think that God made the Pope the absolute monarch of the Church, the bishops serve him, the priests serve them, and the laity have a theological obligation of obedience to the duly constituted authority above them. There is no place in the Church of God for democracy, at all, because what people think is not relevant. What God ordained was established by Tradition thousands of years ago. It can't be changed. It shouldn't be changed. There is nothing to vote ON. The parish belongs to the Church, which is ruled by the Pope.
A Catholic chooses to be in the Church or to leave the Church, but there just isn't the foundation in Catholic thought for resentment that the bishop "lords it over" the parish. Of course he does. That's his job.
One who doesn't understand their own faith very well?
My guess is you're either not a Catholic, or you have a fairly confused idea of "reality on the ground" in Catholicism.
Keep in mind that there are a billion Catholics. I'm not sure how many Latin Rite dioceses there are, but I'd guess it's in the low thousands.
The Vatican has about 1800 full-time employees. That's it ... for a billion faithful. This is an "org chart" unlike any you're used to. I'm a Catholic layman, employed by a medium sized corporation. There's about 7-8 layers of management between me and the CEO of my company. Religiously, however, there's 2 ... that's right, *2* layers of management between me and the Pope: my pastor (whom I can choose, for all intents and purposes) and my diocesan bishop.
(As it happens, both my diocese and the Roman See are vacant right now, so I guess technically it's me, my pastor, and God -- although both my diocese and Rome have temporary administrators who are functional for some purposes.)
The parish church is really supposed to be tightly controlled, not by Rome (which would be impossible), but by the diocesan bishop. He is almost always the final authority. It's absolutely true that the bishop "lords it over" the parish -- you're right, that is his job. St. Ignatius of Antioch, who knew the Apostles, said 2000 years ago that to celebrate the Eucharist "behind the bishop's back" (that is, apart from his authority) was equivalent to devil worship.
The Pope can fire a bishop on a dime.
Within the Latin Rite, it's possible in theory but rarely done in practice. There has to be some serious malfeasance involved.
The Pope can fire a priest.
Again, possible in theory but even less likely in practice, if the priest is a diocesan priest outside the diocese of Rome. Canon law provides procedures for doing stuff like this. In theory, the Pope could circumvent them -- he's the boss -- in practice, that isn't done.
The Pope can do anything. There is no basis of authority independent of Rome.
Ever heard of the concept of subsidiarity in Catholic thought? There's no basis of authority independent of Rome, in the same sense that there's no political authority *independent* of Washington within the USA. That doesn't imply that all decisions are, should, or even can be made in DC.
I've sung in the choir for three decades plus. I understand the Church well enough. What you are saying is true.
But remember what I was responding to in my post: the really big picture comment in an article that property ownership is a tool that Anglican AND CATHOLIC Bishops can use to "lord it over" the parish priests.
That is just simply alien to Catholic thinking.
Catholics simply do not think of their little parish Church as being a separate little corporation that is interfered with, and in danger of repossession, by the bishop. Nor do Bishops place themselves in the sort of head-on collision with Rome that the Anglican bishops have done over the gay issue.
Given subsidiarity and the lack of Vatican oversight, one might think - were one not thinking like a Catholic - that it would be INEVITABLE that, with all of that property, money and concentrated power out there, Catholic diocese would be powerful and controlling - and abusive - "lording it over the parishes" in the way that that control of mere PROPERTY rights suggested lordship to the Anglican and Protestant mind reading the post.
Now, surely you know that is not the case.
All of that THEORETICAL power of the Pope is VERY real WHEN, as happens rarely, a Bishop goes heterodox and starts defying Rome overtly. Those things happen, but very very rarely, and when the do, the outcome is swift and certain. Parishes are just not out there trying to figure out ways to maneuver doctrinally over issues outside of the purview of the Bishop. And Bishops are just not out there trying to put together coalitions to defy Rome.
The Catholic Church could not operate at all were it political and based on property control and legalism. It would utterly founder.
But you know full well that is not the case, just as you know full well that every Catholic knows, without question, that the head of the Church is the Pope. YES, the Bishop runs everything, and the parish priests. NO, the Pope doesn't hear everything. But most certainly any Bishop who defies the Pope directly and openly is history immediately. And should be.
My real point is that it doesn't happen.
And it doesn't happen, despite the vanishingly small number of men running the Church from the Vatican, precisely BECAUSE the authority is so clear, and theological, and nobody disputes it.
It is this pious acceptance of the yoke of authority that makes the Catholic Church so different from the Anglican. The author of the article focused on property rights over parishes, as though concerns over property are what keep fearful priests in line under the Bishops.
That IS TRUE in the Anglican Church.
It IS TRUE in some other Churches.
But it is just alien to the Catholic Church.
That is not why any parish I am in has ever done anything.
I can't think of anyone even mentioning property concerns or litigation in any case.
Litigation over property? In the Catholic Church?
The Catholic mind simply does not operate that way.
Yes, the Pope reigns but does not rule.
But yes, the Pope can rule, and when and if he does, nobody can, or will, even attempt to stand in his way.
Catholics buy the theology that the Pope is literally the heir of Peter, with the power of the keys. I do, and I am utterly typical of Catholics.
Of course the Pope isn't dictating to us: he doesn't HAVE to. When he DOES take charge of a particular concern, the Church moves there. It is beyond our theology to allow the thought that some parish or diocese in disagreement has any basis on which to challenge the spiritual authority of the Holy Father. Indeed, to do so would be a SIN, theologically, from a regular Catholic viewpoint.
That was my point.
I probably dwelt too much on other things, and my point was lost in the presentation.
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