Pope Francis’ doctrine chief: Bishops conference presidents are not ‘vice-popes’

LifeSiteNews: Pope Francis’ doctrine chief: Bishops conference presidents are not ‘vice-popes’

Pope Francis piqued the curiosity of many members of the faithful in his November 24th exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, when he said national bishops’ conferences should be granted “genuine doctrinal authority” as part of his effort to reform the papacy and decentralize authority in the Church.

The idea raised concern for many Catholics, including those active in the battle for life and family, who expressed misgivings about giving more authority to institutions that, in many countries, have often been used to undermine the Church’s teachings on life and family issues.

Now the Pope’s prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has weighed in on the issue. Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller says that while the conferences can exercise a certain doctrinal authority – in preparing local catechisms, for example – they exist to serve individual bishops and will never act as an intermediary between bishop and pope.

In an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera published December 22nd, Archbishop Müller said there is no such thing as “national churches,” and the president of a bishops’ conference cannot be a “vice-pope.”…

That is very interesting and quite reassuring. We are afterall one universal Catholic Church and not national Churches.

Archbp Muller has been really been great lately!

I hope that Archbp Muller’s statements here reflect the thinking of Pope Francis as well. This seems to be the case with some other issues (like communion for the re-married) so I think its probably likely.

Our Holy Father does not seem to have any problem communicating or being heard. I wonder why Archbishop Müller has been so busy lately with his statements. One interpretation would be that he is drawing lines in the land that the Holy Father has not yet arrived at. That kind of practice seems to speak of the Curia of old.

I know you’re not referencing my earlier post specifically, but I’ve realized my comment was worded poorly. I certainly do think Archbp Muller speaks for Francis here, as he has on other issues. My hope is that his comments will guide what actually comes to pass in the real world.

Archbp. Muller meets with Francis weekly, and has stated several times that he consults with Francis before he makes his statements. Francis himself has also noted that one of the purposes of the CDF is to communicate doctrine with precision, and to flesh out and clarify statements.

Francis made some general comments on decentralization in EG, and now Muller is clarifying and fleshing those comments out. Since Muller’s other statements came with the approval of Francis, there is no reason to think this one does not.

That is my impression as well. It is certainly the case that one time-tested approach to forging policy is to send up trial balloons to see if they get shot down. So in that sense Francis is definitely inviting input on his many broad and vague statements, in order to gather insight from many quarters before enacting any change. And part of this is public relations where he is playing good cop, bad cop, with everyone really on the same side, only the approach or wording different. However, I’m not sure whether he appreciates such public comments from within his own curia that appear to be in disagreement with the implications of Francis’s statement. I predict Müller will be replaced within two years.

Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller says that while the conferences can exercise a certain doctrinal authority – in preparing local catechisms, for example – they exist to serve individual bishops and will never act as an intermediary between bishop and pope.

This is not really true - or only true in a limited sense. The conferences already act as an intermediary between bishop and pope. For instance, if an American bishop wants to create a new policy relating to the protection of children from molestation by Church employees, he is not able to do so. Instead, he is bound by particular law enacted through the USCCB. If he wants to change it, the ordinary means is to go through the USCCB to pass amendments and submit these to Rome.

If there’s one term that I despise, it is “American Catholic”.

Why, may I ask? :wink:

I can’t speak for juggling referee, but for myself, I dislike the term because it carries the implication of a separate sect. Catholic means universal, while American restricts the universal. I just like the term “Catholic.”

Pretty soon it may become the Spanish American Catholics vs the English American Catholics. :slight_smile:

Oh, I get it. I’m pretty annoyed by “Tamil Catholic” myself. :smiley: We ought to be Catholics first and foremost. Though there are regional and cultural variations, they ought not obscure the fact that we belong to the Universal Church. :thumbsup:

These variations now exist at the parish level. I didn’t realize how much until recently. How’s your Spanish? :slight_smile:

Almost non-existent, though I can guess at the meaning of some words. (There is, however, a significant divide between groups attending English and vernacular Masses in most Indian parishes, so I know what you mean.) :slight_smile:

Well if he didn’t like it, he wouldn’t tolerate it would he?

:thumbsup:

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