Is collegiality semantical?

Traditional Catholics still have a problem with Vatican II’s words on “collegiality”. I don’t understand what their issue is here, if we even have a new doctrine, or just a new word. They believe in a Council’s authority. Are they saying that that is really Papal authority; that is, when he sign it? What does “having authority” even mean? The documents are free from error by the actions of Popes, and sometimes when bishops write things and give it to the Pope. Are we really speaking of a doctrine about something** going into **the Pope, something similar to grace, and whether this is in the bishops as well when they are at the Council? It reminds me of traditionalist’s arguments with people on the social contract. They say “Leo XIII said authority comes from God and you say the rights are given over to the government by men”. Well, if its necessary for men to “surrender” their rights to the government by nature, than we could just say its from God. Is a right an entity that then leaves the person?What is this idea that authority is a quality **in **the ruler and “right” is an entity. Is the Church concerned with this? Clarifying this could very much help the traditionalists with the doctrine of religious liberty. If its not seen as an entity, but as something that should be done TO the non-Catholics within certain bounds, than they may not have a problem with it.

Collegiality as taught by Vatican II means both the Pope alone exercises the supreme authority of the Church and the Pope together with the bishops exercises that same supreme authority. Those who oppose it in principle claim this creates two heads in the Church. Those who oppose it in practice, say the Pope should not govern in a collaborative way with other bishops.

The opposition in principle comes from the fact that the First Vatican Council got cut short when Rome was invaded. That Council taught that the Pope exercised supreme authority, but never got to finish the document where it would teach about the supreme authority of the College. Vatican II pretty much just quotes from the preparatory documents of Vatican I on this point.

In fact, the explanatory relatio for Pastor Aeternus at Vatican I directly answered the objection concerning two heads (this kind of relatio is an offical explanation or interpretation of the text to be voted on by the Fathers of a Council)–the objection then was the other way around however: some argued saying the Pope alone had supreme authority created two heads. Here is the official response from the relator:

[quote=Relatio for Pastor Aeternus]The bishops gathered with their head in an ecumenical council—and in that case they represent the whole Church—or dispersed but in union with their head—in which case they are the Church itself—truly have full power. There would be confusion if we were to admit two full and supreme powers separate and distinct from each other. But we admit that the truly full and supreme power is in the sovereign pontiff as in the head and that the same power, truly both full and supreme, is also in the head united to the members, that is to say, in the pontiff united to the bishops.

This was the traditional belief of the Church at the time. For example, just prior to becoming Pope Gregory XVI, Mauro Cappellari wrote:

Likewise, it seems to me that the bishops acting in a collegial way and the Pope governing and teaching in such a way is the traditional praxis of the Church. History shows many, many, many local councils of bishops. This is important so that the bishops in a particular region may speak with one voice. Furthermore, it seems the Pope should also seek to act in common with the other bishops rather than simply acting unilaterally–even if that is ultimately his right. With regards to teaching, for example, even before the two most celebrated Marian dogmatic definitions, the Popes first consulted the bishops of the world.

With regard to teaching, the First Vatican Council says as much:

[quote=Pastor Aeternus]5. The Roman pontiffs, too, as the circumstances of the time or the state of affairs suggested, sometimes by summoning ecumenical councils or consulting the opinion of the Churches scattered throughout the world, sometimes by special synods, sometimes by taking advantage of other useful means afforded by divine providence, defined as doctrines to be held those things which, by God’s help, they knew to be in keeping with Sacred Scripture and the apostolic traditions.

St. Francis de Sales explained the same thing:

[quote=St. Francis de Sales, Catholic Controversy]But the great Cardinal of Toledo remarks most appositely on this place that it is not said he shall carry the Church into all truth, but he shall lead; to show that though the Holy Spirit enlightens the Church, he wills at the same that she should use the diligence which is required for keeping the true way, as the Apostles did, who, having to give an answer to an important question, debated, comparing the Holy Scriptures together; and when they had diligently done this they concluded by the: It hath seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us; that is, the Holy Spirit has enlightened us and we have walked, he has guided us and we have followed him, up to this truth. The ordinary means must be employed to discover the truth, and yet in this must be acknowledged the drawing and presence of the Holy Spirit. Thus is the Christian flock led,-by the Holy Spirit but under the charge and guidance of its Pastor, who however does not walk at hazard, but according to necessity convokes the other pastors, either partially or universally, carefully regards the track of his predecessors, considers the Urim and Thummim of the Word of God, enters before his God by his prayers and invocations, and, having thus diligently sought out the true way, boldly puts himself on his voyage and courageously sets sail.


continued from above…

St. John Chrysostom gives one reason why collegial governance is a good idea when he discusses why St. Peter did not unilaterally choose the successor to Judas, even though he could have.

St. Leo the Great gives another excellent explanation of this when discussing why settling an issue collegially at the Council of Chalcedon was a good idea despite the fact that he had already ruled on the issue himself.

[quote=St. Leo I]On the return of our brothers and fellow priests, whom the See of the blessed Peter sent to the holy council, we ascertained, beloved, the victory you and we together had won by assistance from on high over the blasphemy of Nestorius, as well as over the madness of Eutyches. Wherefore we make our boast in the Lord, singing with the prophet: “our help is in the name of the Lord, who has made heaven and earth :” who has suffered us to sustain no harm in the person of our brethren, but has corroborated by the irrevocable assent of the whole brotherhood what He had already laid down through our ministry: to show that, what had been first formulated by the foremost See of Christendom, and then received by the judgment of the whole Christian world, had truly proceeded from Himself: that in this, too, the members may be at one with the Head. And herein our cause for rejoicing grows greater when we see that the more fiercely the foe assailed Christ’s servants, the more did he afflict himself. For lest the assent of other Sees to that which the Lord of all has appointed to take precedence of the rest might seem mere complaisance, or lest any other evil suspicion might creep in, some were found to dispute our decisions before they were finally accepted. And while some, instigated by the author of the disagreement, rush forward into a warfare of contradictions, a greater good results through his fall under the guiding hand of the Author of all goodness. For the gifts of God’s grace are sweeter to us when they are gained with mighty efforts: and uninterrupted peace is wont to seem a lesser good than one that is restored by labours. Moreover, the Truth itself shines more brightly, and is more bravely maintained when what the Faith had already taught is afterwards confirmed by further inquiry. And still further, the good name of the priestly office gains much in lustre where the authority of the highest is preserved without it being thought that the liberty of the lower ranks has been at all infringed. And the result of a discussion contributes to the greater glory of God when the debaters exert themselves with confidence in overcoming the gainsayers: that what of itself is shown wrong may not seem to be passed over in prejudicial silence.

Well Traditionalists argue that Vatican II did not make dogma, so they are free to hold the opinion (which I haven’t seen any real evidence for either) that it is a college of friends, all teachers and helpers and preachers except one, how holds the Supreme Authority. This is not about Councils approved by the Pope are infallible, that is, whether the Holy Ghost protected it, but I think WHEN the Holy Ghost worked. A decree is voted on, say,… does that mean that all the bishops who voted on it, along with the Pope, were influenced to see its truth and would have died in they voted for a bad one?

So I guess the essence of authority is the action of the Holy Spirit.

I also wanted to discuss right. Could it be said that a right is not a real entity in itself, but just describing a duty of someone to another from the perspective the second person? This would solve the religious freedom problem for traditionalists. Does anyone see what I am getting at?

fine, ULTRA-traditional

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