Episcopal Conferences


What are your positions on episcopal conferences (like the USCCB)? Some people think that it is part of the hierarchy, while others do not. Please explain your opinions. I personally believe it is too democratic…the church has a hierarchical structure…it is not a democracy.


Well, there have always been episcopal Councils, Synods, Consistories, and such. National “conferences” seem to be forms of such things on a more specific level. Even before there were national bishops conferences, there certainly were certainly Plenary Councils (such as the ones at Baltimore from which the American Catechism came.)


It is true that there have always been similar councils and synods, but I believe the current system of Episcopal Conferances is undermining the hierarchy by imposing a democratic structure and diminishing the authority of individual hierarchs. Primates and Metropolitan Archbishops have been relieved of much of their former power, and in many ways some of the privileges of the Papacy as well.


Another thing- the Episcopal Conferances have served to nationalize and regionalize the Church, besides underlining that in the last 100 years the Church has become extremely bureacratic at all levels.


Episcopal Conferences these days seem to support a democratic thinking of the Church, which if you think about it, is quite evil.

As truth should come from God there should always be a submittal to truth and a humble sort of faith which places man as subject to God. When you place faith in a democratic setting it places man as the decider of truth which instead of submitting to truth, people lobby for truth. The most popular vote decides truth is. Eventually if enough people decide anything can be promoted as truth even though it might be a lie or contrary to our faith tradition all in the name of culture. This places man as the judge and makes God subject to the fashion.

As our faith and salvation is quite serious business, we should take great pains to keep our minds focused on proper thinking. Democracy might be great for countries such as the United States, but for religion it is a different story.

In Christ


If it is so, that is only because individual bishops are allowing themselves to be compromised. But that well could have happenned even without such conferences.

Primates and Metropolitan Archbishops have been relieved of much of their former power, and in many ways some of the privileges of the Papacy as well.

Well, how so? In the U.S., especially, did they truly have as much power and privilege as in some old world places?


If anything, it seems that it is more of parliamentary thinking than democratic.


I guess it could be called parliamentary when they are not seeking ways to oppose the Pope. Good point, that would probably be more accurate in many cases.

I am not so sure that in democratic countries it is thought of as parliamentary, but that would be much more ideal, yet it seems as if the Church has been downplayed in that type thinking in some countries.

God Bless


How and when have the conference ever been seeking ways to oppose the Pope? Given, there have been times within certain conferences when they have had to deal with realities of the local culture which make matters challenging and hard to accomplish in a simple manner of application. This occasionally finds itself in wrestling with Rome. But opposition?


Not blatant opposition (unless you count several issues with the Canadian bishops…), but there have been many circumstances of these conferances ignoring Papal directives or “interpreting” documents in a way that suits them.


Such as?

Again, I can see where there are legitimate challenges faced and there is a need for some genuine give and take between the local conferences and Rome (take Ex Corde Ecclesiae and the mandatum as one clear example of such). But these are cases where simplistically trying to impose some general directive as handed down from the dicastry would have only been utter failure in practice.


I would suggest calling for the Abolition and disbanding of the USSCB, and the Establishment of an Orthodox and traditional Catholic Primate and/or Patriachate to govern the dioceses, and Archdioceses of the United States, and Canada.


The Episcopal conferences have no authority and no jurisdiction they are just instruments for bishops to cooperate and come together.


There is already a Primate of Canada, the Cardinal Archbishop of Quebec City.


Soon after the publication of Humanae Vitae, the Canadian bishop’s conferance voted to ignore the encyclical and declared that contraception was a matter of conscience. That doesnt sound too faithful to me.


Alright, so that was 40 years ago. And a reflection of the times. Had there been no CBC many individual bishops, obviously, would have just done the same on their own (seeing as how they are the ones who voted such). It doesn’t make the idea or practice of an episcopal conference inherantly bad, though.

What else ya got?


It is impossible to prove it inherently bad, I cannot prove Socialism to be inherently bad, as it is designed for good. Socialism sounds good but does it always work out?

In the same way Bishops working together to help bring us Christ’s message of salvation is a good thing. What happens unfortunately is the refocus on a democratic type belief of truth and an elevation of man above God. This can make rejection of truth ok, as long as you convince everyone else to vote on it.

Now I believe the USCCB is in much better shape than in years past and much of the craziness is almost behind us. There will still be flare ups of the old holdouts trying to push anti-christian agendas, but for the most part we are getting into a much more holy set of Bishops.

We still have some holdouts, look how long it took for them to implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae. 10 years! Holy Moley!
But the good sign is they did it, they just had to drag their feet a little bit.
Things are changing for the better but it does seem that conferences do obstruct truth sometimes, even these days.

God Bless,


Whatever happened to “Roma locuta est, causa finita est”? Rome has spoken, the cause if finished. Why do episcopal conferences always make reference to “cultural realities” or “cultural difficulties” for not implementing things? It seems clear that many bishops do NOT want to obey Rome (look at the many of the statements about Summorum Pontificum), but also don’t want to be open about it. So they find ways to drag their feet and make excuses for not implementing what Rome calls for. This seems to be the Protestant principle of individual interpretation. BIshops or Conferences saying “I/we know what Rome says, be I/we will determine how/when/or if I/we will implement it”. Just look at the almost non-existent implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae in this country in direct contradiction to the will of Rome.


I would posit that things really always have been this way in some sense. We just hear more about it in our era with the way in which communications have brought the world closer together. Further, what most seem to be talking about in this thread is the silly season which was part of “The Sixties” which is really distinct from anything that has to do with the bishops’ conference itself, but obviously would have still expressed itself in the way which it did with or without a conference. Finally, perhaps one of the reasons why the bishops appeal to cultural difficulties is because they truly exist. Sure, they could have tried to directly impose Ex Corde Ecclasiae, for instance. And they would have failed misreably. If they wanted the universities to go along, they needed to engage in extensive dialog and compromise. Otherwise, we would have just been left with the same situation which we had, anyway, and no real improvement at all.


I would agree that cultural difficulties do exist. Where I have an issue is using that as an excuse to either ignore the directives from Rome or spend 10 years or more in dialogue and still have no real change. Ex Corde is still failing miserably even with the dialogue.

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