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By Fr. Wilson (articles ) | May 05, 2003

I'm not a canonist, Domenico, but canon law explicitly gives the Pope full, universal, immediate ordinary jurisdiction over the whole Church. I do indeed believe that he has that authority (wasn't it Pius VI who exercised it back in Napoleon's day when he deposed the whole acien hierarchy of the French Church?).

Clearly, there are formidable instruments at the Pope's disposal -- as we saw with the suspension from ministry of Archbishop Lefebvre in 1975. Paul VI also deposed Cardinal Mindzenty as Archbishop of Esztergom and Primate of Hungary. And more recently there was the Archbishop Milingo example. I also seem to recall that Cardinal Groer did not willingly retire.

This really shouldn't be something we automatically dump on the Pope; it should first be said that it is simply, personally disgraceful that some of these people do not resign for the good of the Church. Somehow, the episcopate has morphed from a servant ministry to a personal position of eminence to which one has attained by one's stellar gifts, and which one has no intention of relinquishing no matter how badly one has done. But Chesire is quite right -- it is awful to see the damage being done, and if it comes to it, the one man with the power of the Keys and the Authority to step in, ought to, I'd suggest.

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