The role of the bishops' conference

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 14, 2005

As the American hierarchy gathers in Chicago, for another meeting of the US bishops' conference, here a few non-original thoughts:

We must not forget that the episcopal conferences have no theological basis, they do not belong to the structure of the Church, as willed by Christ, that cannot be eliminated; they have only a practical, concrete function.
No episcopal conference, as such, has a teaching mission; its documents have no weight of their own save that of the consent given to them by the individual bishops.
It happens that with some bishops there is a certain lack of a sense of individual responsibility, and the delegation of his inalienable powers as shepherd and teacher to the structures of the local conference leads to letting what should remain very personal lapse into anonymity.
I know bishops who privately confess that they would have decided differently than they did at a conference if they had had to decide by themselves. 
Who is this critic, who dares to speak ill of the bishops' conference?

His name is Benedict.

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  • Posted by: - Jun. 16, 2005 11:37 PM ET USA

    The moneychangers need to be thrown out of the temple.

  • Posted by: Venerable Aussie - Jun. 16, 2005 12:11 AM ET USA

    Come on guys! The USCCB may need a visit from Pope Benedict in Persona Christi to upend a few tables, but let's be Christian in our language. To add to my anagramatical approach (see my comment below), I really find the "nuke 'em" comments very "unmeek".

  • Posted by: - Jun. 15, 2005 8:17 PM ET USA

    It's common knowledge in the business world that if you want to bury an idea, form a committee and have meetings. That way, everyone gets to show off their intellect; making everyone feel good about themselves meanwhile avoiding any decision making. That way no one has to accept any responsibility for a decision -- leaving that to the CEO who probably won't read their final report anyway. And that is why the Church left loves the USCCB.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 15, 2005 1:32 PM ET USA

    I totally agree with you, a.o. - Let's nuke the USCCB. I know of a certain Archbishop who says that he hates going to those anyway, and they don't seem to do anything constructive.

  • Posted by: Venerable Aussie - Jun. 15, 2005 12:27 AM ET USA

    By George! (or Charles, John, Fabian, but not Roger) I've got it! We get the Fairmont staff to switch the agenda for the Boys Club Picnic to read: 1.As shepherds, how many souls have flocked to Christ through us since our last picnic? 2.Have we left the gate open and the wolves in? 3.Can we arrange a second helping of humble pie at tonight's banquet? (made from “menial gift mince”–sorry, that’s the best anagram of "magnificent mile” I could come up with..) 4.Mass @ St John Cantius?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 14, 2005 4:46 PM ET USA

    From one perspective, this is just another chapter in the ancient confrontation between the Nobles (Bishops) and the Monarch. In this case the Nobles and their courtiers (the bureaucrats) have a near-monopoly on the engines of PR. This is because the courtiers are all Liberals and are adept at manipulating the media of opinion formation. Their loyalties are to Academia and wholly political agendas.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Jun. 14, 2005 4:32 PM ET USA

    The USCCB? A majority of bishops elected Bp.Trautman to chair the "liturgy committee" -- he has publicly spoken against the Holy Father & Magisterium. A majority voted for Bp. Skylstad to be the president, while he's in the midst of bankruptcy & scandal, etc. The number of millennial-type bishops, who actually strive to be successors to the Apostles, who profess unquestioned love for & loyalty to the Holy Father & Magisterium, is increasing. As for the USCCB itself, however: Plan B. Nuke it.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 14, 2005 12:12 PM ET USA

    Isn't it about time the Vatican begins to stop making work for itself. And all of this out of some desperate schizophrenic attempt to justify the indefensible ie the spirit of Vatican II. Benedict should put his time where his theology (ie the Truth) is. End the episcopal conferences, sack bishops who don't advance the Catholic faith, or who tolerate or even celebrate the wolves supervising the sheep in their diocese

  • Posted by: - Jun. 14, 2005 11:49 AM ET USA

    Interesting that your poster referred to the bishops as acting like good Democrats. It has been suggested that one Cardinal acted in 2004 as though his primary loyalty was to the Democratic party.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 14, 2005 11:43 AM ET USA

    As they luxuriate and polish their image, the bishops will issue various pronunciamentos, prepared by the bloated staff, on subjects of which they know little. This is the stalling, back-to-normal, strategy, now rather obvious, while memories fade and the laity slump back into the usual apathy. Will they address the homosexuality problem, dare consider "fraternal correction," or effect some corrective action in the seminaries? The crisis continues.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 14, 2005 11:13 AM ET USA

    Let's hope Benedict and his theological allies work deliberately to reign in the USCCB. This issue, while subtle in many ways, needs some deliberate theological and policy, practical attention from faithful prelates and the Holy. One inadvertent positive of the abuse scandal is that it is reducing the amount of money available to fund the giant conference bureacracy. But this isn't enough, individual Bishops must recover their identity and be courageous in exercising it.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 14, 2005 11:09 AM ET USA

    Certainly, by holding their meeting at the Fairmont Hotel while the issues of world poverty, peace and justice weigh heavily upon their mitres, the bishops are setting an example for all of their flock. Like good Democrats who carp incessantly about social justice they manage to have their pate and eat it, too.