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To: Vicomte13
What Catholic believes, for an instant, that the parish church is anything but the local branch of the Church of Rome?

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.

8 posted on 04/06/2005 9:29:59 AM PDT by Campion
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To: Campion


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.

9 posted on 04/06/2005 3:17:38 PM PDT by Vicomte13 (Et alors?)
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