Why Doesn't the Pope Do Something about "Bad" Bishops?


by Rev. Robert Johansen

A question I have heard frequently among conservative Catholics is “Why doesn’t the pope do something about those bad bishops?” The question usually is prompted by frustration with a perceived lack of orthodoxy or zeal on the part of some bishop. Catholics in some places face situations in which it seems the bishop turns a blind eye to heterodoxy and dissent—or even appears to give them his blessing. Faced with such dysfunctional diocesan environments, they naturally look to Rome for relief and redress, but often are disappointed to find that help is slow in coming, if it ever comes at all.

By “do something” people usually mean that they want the pope to discipline the bishop, to apply pressure on him to adhere more closely to Church teaching, or even to remove him. But most of us—while from time to time sharing such wishes or even voicing them—don’t know exactly what can be done about a bad bishop. So I’ll address a couple of common misconceptions about the bishop’s role and his relationship to the universal church, and I’ll explain how the Church sees these things, both in its teaching and tradition.

Misconception #1:
The Pope as CEO


I totally agree with the “pope is not a CEO” point. That is necessary for Catholics to understand if reunion with the Orthodox is ever to take place. The bishop is the true ordinary local authority in his diocese, his power is not merely delegated by the Pope. He must be in communion WITH the pope, but he is not just some manager “under” the Pope.

However…it is this “run the Church like a bureaucracy,” super-Rome-centralized, Vatican-micromanages-stuff mentality that got us these bad bishops who are not strong leaders in the first place. We have administrators, not leaders.

The Church has abandoned the “feudal” model as “too dark ages” and so instead of a Pope as a king in union with bishop princes…we have a Pope who is a dictator with bishop bureaucrats under him. We have gone from a model of fealty, to one of subjugation. But while the former leads to brotherhood, the latter leads to resentment and potentially rebelliousness.

So to fix this, I think the Pope should probably remove or discipline lots of them and replace them with men who are true leaders and who understand their proper place as not simply the pope’s flunkies.

But of course, the Pope is a good little politician and would never step on toes or rock the boat too much:rolleyes:


Oh, ye of little faith.:whistle:


He is only 18. Give him time.:wink:


My bad.:smiley:


You are far and away from bad.

Very kind, very good, and loving.:slight_smile:


A very wise article.


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