Does the Vatican have only one bishop?


Just to get the ball rolliing (I’m too tired now to pull up the references, etc), I’ll post this now.

Has Vatican I eliminated any need for any bishop but the bishop of Rome, pro or con.


On reading the text concerning “infallibility” the answer would have to be “YES”, especially in the light of the last sentence: "If any one shall presume (which God forbid!) to contradict this our definition; let them be anathema." Documents of the Christian Church. Second Edition, 1963 Pg 384-385

nough said.


Of course not. Why do you think he calls them “brother Bishops”.


I’m trying to get beyond lip service.

The Reformers noticed, with all the extravegance, opulance, pomp and circumstance that they didn’t see much service from the "Servant of the Servants of Christ). (Durer had a print, I believe, with Christ being beaten on one side, and the pope in the Vatican having his slipper kissed).

Lumen Gentium is at PAINS to claim that it is never an issue of the bishops acting without the pope, but always an issue of the pope acting with or without the bishops. That being said, who needs the bishops except as bishop making machines, care takers and administrators. You don’t have to be a bishop to advise: we’ve had it pointed out sevearl times that for the “infallible” proclaramations the pope consulted the laity.

So what do you need bishops for?


This is going to sound sarcastic but it’s not meant to be.

The Pope needs the Bishops so that when ever an issue is brought forth, such as those in Vaticans I and II, that he can call a council together. Although there may appear to be a concensus at the end of the council, history shows, the Pope fosters a great deal of control over the council and if there is disagreement with the Pope’s views they are usually “persuaded” to take on the Pope’s opinion. Much in Vatican II was revolutionary for the Church, however, there were and are still many who disagree with it’s precepts and if a more stanch old school Pope is ever elected you can expect to see a reversal of those precepts. Some of them have already been weakened by the Popes that came after Vatican II.


The principals of subsidiarity necessitate that we apply solutions closest to their problems. Top down central control models do not practically scale outside of the simple uni-lateral and benevolent conveyance of policy and common teaching. The office of Pope executes these well. The bishops provide the means to solve the pragmatic issues arising from cultural and social differences that invariable come up in implementation of the policy and teaching at a local level. This also provides a means to regulate and moderating the uptake of ideas and concerns to Rome without swamping the pontificate with every single issue and problem.

I think its a very efficient system myself with a fair amount of shared cooperative authority and cross checking through peer expectations. If governments could run themselves as efficiently with the scarce resources of the Vatican we would not need much administrative government at all. What other country or government on the planet has the same global scope of operations and governance with such a small budget?



Has Vatican I eliminated any need for any bishop but the bishop of Rome, pro or con.

First of all, no, because if there is no need for any bishop but the bishop of Rome after Vatican I, then there was no need for any bishop but the bishop of Rome before Vatican I.

That being said, it depends entirely upon what you mean by “need”. In terms of abstract ecclesiology, in my very uninformed opinion, I would say that yes, there is only a need for one bishop; the bishop of Rome. I think you will almost agree with me, once I explain.

Imagine a situation whereby all but one of the bishops of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches suddenly died. Let’s not get into possible scenarios whereby this could happen, but let’s just take it that it could happen. It certainly could have easily happened in the early Church.

Anyway, would you then claim that this bishop is unable to perform some of his functions because he is the only bishop? I doubt that you would. Would you claim that this bishop lacks infallibility in promulgating and authoritatively defining an aspect of the faith - let’s say if he had to combat some heresy? I also doubt that you would.

Of course, it would be extremely difficult for this bishop to ordain priests and to do all of the other duties a bishop needs to do - and this is where your definition of the word “needs” comes into play.

So far, I think you’ll pretty much agree with everything that I have said. Now is the point for you to disagree: I reckon this last bishop, no matter his current diocese, would become the bishop of Rome.

Strangely enough, I think this thread is actually a witness for Papal Infallibility!


This is an example of what I am talking about.


Actually, he would become the bishop of EVERY diocese.


I agree with you that, if there were only one bishop left, he would automatically become the Pope – that is, the First Among Equals. It would be up to him to decide whether he wanted to be the Bishop of Rome, or of some other city. (You’re aware, I’m sure, that St. Peter didn’t automatically become the Bishop of Rome when Christ appointed him the first Pope. In fact, St. Peter first became the Bishop of Antioch, then later chose to become the Bishop of Rome instead.)


Does the Church need more than one bishop?

No. If there were only one bishop, the Church would still survive.

Similarly, does the Church need to have bishops, priests, and deacons? No, in fact in the very early Church, there were only bishops and deacons. (Of course, every bishop is also a priest, but the point is that there weren’t any priests who weren’t also bishops.)


Another example of which I speak:

See my response:


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