Bishop in schism, what if?

If a Bishop decides to take his diocese in to schism, do the laity have any recourse? What does schism really mean to the laity?

[quote="Spirithound, post:1, topic:178549"]
If a Bishop decides to take his diocese in to schism, do the laity have any recourse? What does schism really mean to the laity?

[/quote]

A bishop can't "take his diocese into schism" He can take himself (excommunicate himself [cause himself to be excommunicated], go into schism himself), but he can't take his diocese (although individuals can follow him). If a bishop does go into schism, the diocese becomes "vacant" just as if the bishop had died or resigned, and the process is begun for a new bishop to be named. See canons 416 and following. There's a lot more to this, such as the very high standard to be applied before saying that a bishop is in schism, but that's a brief summary.

Readers should also see canon 1373.

I'm not sure whether you are refering to a bishop formally saying, "Rome is wrong and this diocese will no longer take ordrs from Rome", or if you are talking about a situation where a bishop doesn't make a formal announcement but just begins doing things "His way".

NOTE: I am not a canon lawyer so the following is my own opinion.

As spirithound has replied there are specific steps that take place under canon law.

However in real life it is unlikely to be as neat a process as canon law might imply.

It will more likely be very messy because it will take time before the bishop can be shown to actually be in schism and formal action taken. Much damage can be done in that time to the laity.

The Laity is to obey the Bishop. We know that. Therefore if the Bishop begins teaching or doing things that are contrary to Church teaching the laity would likely follow him in good conscience. Once things got to a certain point, then either priests in the diocese or laity or, more likely, a combination would need to notify Rome of the problem while continuing to follow the Bishop in obedience and good conscience as far as they are able.
If and when Rome determines to remove the Bishop then the people would follow the new bishop as he makes the necessary corrections.
This obedience to the duly appointed head of the diocese is the surest way for the laity to protect themselves from going into heresy themselves.

Peace
James

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