The head bishop

Please vote and/or comment. Here is the legend:

  1. The head bishop is not necessary. This is a perspective that I have ONLY found in the Eastern Orthodox Church and simply violates Apostolic canon 34:

  2. The head bishop is necessary but has a merely administrative and honorary prerogative. This seems to accept the full provisions of Apostolic Canon 34, but from my perspective it is no better than the first option.

  3. The head bishop is necessary and has actual juridic authority over his brother bishops within his territory. The body of bishops can judge the head bishop separate from him.

  4. The head bishop is necessary and has actual juridic authority over his brother bishops within his territory. If the head bishop is to be judged, it is a collegial deliberation that must involve the head bishop himself, and never apart from him.

  5. The head bishop is necessary and has actual juridic authority over his brother bishops within his jurisdiction. The head bishop cannot be judged by any person or group of persons, but can be incriminated by virtue of the law itself (i.e., Sacred Tradition).

  6. The head bishop is necessary and has actual juridic authority over his brother bishops within his jurisdiction. The head bishop cannot be judged by any one or any thing on earth.

I believe the only Catholic options are #4 and #5. Some non-Latins might accept #3. Some real hard-liners might include #6 (certainly, #6 is the preferred perspective of anti-Catholics in their judgment of the Catholic Church). Personally, I accept #4.

Blessings,
Marduk

P.S. May I ask that ONLY Catholics give their vote? In this instance, I would include Traditional Catholics who are not in union with the Pope. Just to warn voters, I am turning on the feature that lets others know who voted what.

I’m going with #4, but I’ll leave commentary on the issue for later when we have more participants in the poll. Seems premature for me to go into a ramble that may not even be relevant yet. :smiley:

Peace and God bless!

My dearest brother Ghosty,

I always look forward to your ramblings :smiley: because they are always the most informative ramblings I encounter.

I’ve missed your comments on the other issues being brought up. Where are you lurking nowadays, or have you simply cut down (by necessity or choice) on your diet of ECF?

Abundant blessings,
Marduk

So does the fact that you put this poll in the “Eastern Catholicism” forum indicate that you just want to hear from Catholics? Or should non-Catholics respond as well?

I’ve been on, I’ve just not had time to respond at-length in most cases. I’ve been enjoying reading the thoughts of others, though. :slight_smile:

Peace and God bless!

Two quick questions:

1)What is Apostolic Canon #34?
2)What do you mean by “head bishop”? Pope?

If you are talking about the Pope, I would say options 4, 5 and 6 are acceptable because they are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
4) If the head bishop is to be judged, it is a collegial deliberation that must involve the head bishop himself, and never apart from him.
This can be true in the case of a Pope living a gravely immoral lifestyle, for example, in which his peers can convince (but not force) him to resign.
5) The head bishop cannot be judged by any person or group of persons, but can be incriminated by virtue of the law itself (i.e., Sacred Tradition).
The Pope’s conscience can recognize he has violated certain moral or legal principles and willingly step down.
6) The head bishop cannot be judged by any one or any thing on earth.
This is true because there is no person on earth above the Pope. He cannot be overturned by the majority, otherwise the situation is a democracy and the Truth becomes relative.

I specified this in my first post. Only Catholics - Trad Catholics who are not in communion with the Pope are welcome. The reason I include only this group is because I want to gauge the beliefs of those who accept that the bishop of Rome is the head bishop of the universal Church.

Blessings,
Marduk

WHAT?!!! Have you been here so long and don’t know what Apostolic Canon 34 is YET?!!! What does a guy have to do!!! Sheesh!!!

JUST KIDDING!!!:smiley:

Apostolic Canon 34 states:
The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first among them and account him as their head and do nothing of consequence without his consent;
But each bishop may do those things only which concern his own parish, and the country places which belong to it.
But neither let him who is first do anything without the consent of all, for so there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit.

This canon is understood by the Oriental Orthodox to have been established by the Apostles themselves. I do not know about the Eastern Orthodox. I have always assumed the Catholic Church accepts it in its full sense as do the Oriental Orthodox.

[quote=]2)What do you mean by “head bishop”? Pope?
[/quote]

I meant Pope - that would be normative for Latin Catholics. But to Eastern and Oriental Catholics, it would not necessarily mean the Pope, but their own Patriarch or Metropolitan head.

So I guess I SHOULD clarify that by “head bishop” I mean the “head bishop of the universal Church” (i.e., the Pope).

Blessings,
Marduk

I would say that Catholics have sometimes neglected the last part “But neither let him who is first do anything without the consent of all, for so there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit”, but have been paying more attention to it at least since the Second Vatican Council.

Call me slow, but that Canon seems to affirm the office of the Papacy.

I agree partially. First, I wouldn’t use the blanket term “Catholics.” I think Eastern and Oriental Catholics and even Latin Catholics have always possessed a full appreciation of this canon. One can glean this from the discussions of Vatican I itself. A lot of Latin bishops (no need to mention the Eastern and Oriental hierarchs) were concerned about this aspect of Church ecclesiology. That is why at Vatican I, a specific statement on the prerogatives of the episcopate was included, and it was mostly Latins who drew up the agenda for the Council. Unfortunately, the Council was cut short by war and the full conciliar recognition of the tenets of the Apostolic Canon was not enshrined until Vatican II. But even within the Latin Church, I believe recognition of this Canon is evident. A most stark example was the promulgation of no less an ultra-papal statement as Unam Sanctam. The decree was actually promulgated in a Synod of 80 bishops, with full deliberation and participation as to its contents by the members (I think St. Thomas Aquinas participated in its formulation).

Blessings,
Marduk

Another example was the domgatization of the Immaculate Conception. It was the Bishops who petitioned the Pope to do it, not the Pope who acted unilaterally. Even after being continuously petitioned, the Pope sent letters to the Bishops asking them their opinion on the matter, and only after an overwhelming response in support of the doctrine did the Pope publish the encyclical making it dogma.

In the other famous example, the Dormition/Assumption of Mary, it was already basically a unanimous tradition of all Churches, and really didn’t even need a promulgation IMO.

Peace and God bless!

Noticed that too, huh?:thumbsup:
When I was a Coptic Orthodox not in communion with Rome, I knew instinctively when I first read it that it referred to HH Pope Shenoute. But at that time, my understanding of the Church only went as far as the Patriarchal level. It never dawned on me that when it was first promulgated by the Apostles, they were talking about an office that would pass on the prerogatives of their beloved coryphaeus St. Peter.

Blessings,
Marduk

:extrahappy: :bowdown:

THANK YOU, brother Ghosty! You know, it never dawned on me until I read your post that the Apostolic Canon nowhere mentions that the agreement of the bishops must be in a formal conciliar or synodal setting. I’d only always applied it in that context because the synod is all I’ve ever known as far as deliberate agreement among bishops is concerned.

But now, it dawns on me that even outside a conciliar setting, the bishops must always acknowlege their head.

Thanks for clearing up my blurry vision.

Abundant, abundant blessings,
Marduk

P.S. Please don’t ANYONE think that because of this realization, I now believe bishops have to kowtow to the Pope at all times and do not have supreme jurisdiction in their own jurisdictions. My newfound realization has given me a greater appreciation for the papacy, but it has not changed my ecclesiological beliefs one bit.

Brothers Peter and CatholicDude,

May I humbly ask for your participation in the poll? Thanks ahead of time.

Blessings,
Marduk

On the heels of this, I would like to mention that a long time ago (when this was still the Eastern Christianity Forum), a disgruntled Eastern Catholic complained, “why specifically mention only the Pope in our diptychs? Shouldn’t we mention ALL the Patriarchs and Metropolitans of every Catholic Church in the world?” At the time, I did not bother to respond, thinking that his request was just impractical. But now, I have the answer.

For any of my Eastern/ Oriental brethren who have ever made the same complaint, the answer is in Apostolic Canon 34. The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is the head bishop. So every diptych of every Church is bound by apostolic ordinance to acknowledge not only the head bishop of the local diocese, archdiocese, and Patriarchate, but also the bishop of Rome as head of the universal Church.

Blessings,
Marduk

I voted # 6, but then, I’m an ultra liberal. :slight_smile:

Seriously though, I voted # 5.

**Brother mardukm, **

**Thanks for your in depth insight on the topic of papacy. I, as a latin rite Catholic, am also interested in learning the true nature of the role of the Pope (as head bishop) and I find your posts very useful. **

May I ask you to comment on my fellowing observations:

1. You alway mention Apostolic Canon 34 (or is it 35?), I note that Canon 9 of the Council of Antioh 341 is almost indenticial to that of Canon 34, it seems that from these canons, eastern churches have long accepted jurisdiction of the head bishop in relation to a particular church. I would also say Canon 6 of Nicea I (which deals with jurisdiction of partriach) has similar effect.

**2. I remember you said that the Supreme Authority of the universal Church rests with the College of Bishop united with its head (the head bishop). However, under the current Code of Canon Laws, its seems that the Supreme Authority of the Church rests with: **

**a- the Pope- Canon 331; and also **
b- the College of Bishop in union with the Pope- Canon 336

Maybe I interpret wrongly, it seems that the layout or format of Code that deals with the Supreme Authority of the Church has artificially distinguished the Pope from the College of Bishop:

PART II. THE HIERARCHICAL CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH
[LIST]
*]SECTION I. THE SUPREME AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH (Cann. 330 - 367)[LIST]
*][LIST]
*]CHAPTER I. THE ROMAN PONTIFF AND THE COLLEGE OF BISHOPS[LIST]
*]Art. 1. THE ROMAN PONTIFF
*]Art. 2. THE COLLEGE OF BISHOPS[/LIST]
[/LIST][/LIST][/LIST]
So, are the relevant canons saying that there is only one Supreme Authority but such authority is exercisable either by the head bishop acting alone or the College of Bishop in union with the head?

Francis

Ah … so you did. (Insert emoticon with very red cheeks.) I don’t know how I missed it:

Dear brother Francis,

Yes, Apostolic Canon 34 has been in effect in the Church from the very beginning, having been established by the Apostles themselves. The provisions apply at EVERY level of the hierarchy. It applies to the Archdiocese/Metropolical level (where all bishops are subject to the Archbishop or Metropolitan), to the Patriarchal level (where all bishops including archbishops and metropolitans are subject to Patriarchs), and to the universal level (where all bishops including archbishops, Metropolitans and patriarchs are subject to the Pope). In each level, the head bishop is not an absolute monarch. NORMATIVELY, bishops would have supreme jurisdiction only in their own diocese (while always recognizing who is their head in every level). When a situation occurs that necessarily involves more than one diocese, the head bishop on the archbishopric/metropolical level will become involved, and he has actual jurisdiction in those areas to become involved. If a situation occurs that involves more than one archbishopric or metropolical see, the head bishop on the patriarchal level will become involved, and he has actual jurisdiction in those areas to become involved. And if a situation occurs that involves more than one Patriarchate, or the entire Church, the head bishop of the universal Church will become involved, and he has actual jurisdiction in those areas to become involved. Note that the involvement of the head bishop in a diocese not immediately his own depends NOT on the whim of the head bishop, but on the NEEDS of the Church under him.

I sincerely believe that for a while, because of the nationalist and caeseropapist tendencies that infected the Church (not to mention ecclesiological politics and theological misunderstanding), many patriarchal Churches forgot or purposefully neglected the level of the universal Church, which itself requires a head bishop.

[quote=]**2. I remember you said that the Supreme Authority of the universal Church rests with the College of Bishop united with its head (the head bishop). However, under the current Code of Canon Laws, its seems that the Supreme Authority of the Church rests with: **

**a- the Pope- Canon 331; and also **
b- the College of Bishop in union with the Pope- Canon 336

Maybe I interpret wrongly, it seems that the layout or format of Code that deals with the Supreme Authority of the Church has artificially distinguished the Pope from the College of Bishop:

So, are the relevant canons saying that there is only one Supreme Authority but such authority is exercisable either by the head bishop acting alone or the College of Bishop in union with the head?
[/quote]

Yes, I have stated before that the supreme authority of the Church is the college of bishops in union with its head.

But I need to make two comments for clarification:

  1. When the Canon uses the term “College,” it refers to a formal, official body of bishops. However, when I used the term, I only really meant “the bishops around the world.” My approach is admittedly more generic, and actually incorporates both canons you mention.

  2. The phrase “in union with its head” is actually redundant. A college of bishops, according to Apostolic Canon 34, simply cannot exist without a head bishop.

Analyzing your conclusion above, I would have to disagree, but not by much. I only disagree with the clause “by the head bishop acting alone.” You see, the head bishop (in this case, we are talking about the Pope) NEVER acts alone.

Perhaps you have drawn your conclusion from Latin Canon 333.2 which states - The Roman Pontiff…has the right to determine, according to the needs of the Church, whether this office is to be exercised in a personal or in a collegial manner.

If this is the case, please consider this: Collegial indeed means the authority of the College of bishops (of whom the Pope is head). But “personal” does not mean “alone.” It refers to the authority of the Pope “ex cathedra” when exercising infallibility. This does not mean that the Pope is acting alone, for whatever else ex cathedra may mean, it certainly does not equate to inspiration. The Pope as a human being is constrained by the available means to sort through Sacred Tradition in order to make his judgment. This necessitates the involvement (opinions and judgments) of his brother bishops.

This is also evident from Church history, for in fact, the Pope has NEVER acted alone, even when enacting decrees on his own personal authority (please see posts #11 and #12 in this thread for examples).

I hope that helps.

As you are interested in the nature of the head bishop of the universal Church, here is a very closely related thread:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=185817&highlight=Papal

It is a 30 page thread, but it is well worth the read. Perhaps you might even like to participate in the poll of that thread.:thumbsup: If you want to participate in that poll, please do so only after reading the thread, for it explains many things that may not be evident or may be misunderstood from my first post on the thread. Thanks.

Blessings,
Marduk

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