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The King And The Pope

The King gives some advice to the Pope
A little less conversation, A little more action!
A little less documentation, A little more excommunication!
(Encyclical Recessus Est of Pope Elvis 1,
thus named after the first words of his pontificate, when
from the balcony of Saint Peter's Square, he said:

1) Introduction

There are many ways to attack the Catholic Church, both from the outside and from the inside. Today, we will examine yet another way of attacking the Church from the inside, which happens when some people claim that we must tolerate bad Bishops.

The argument usually goes something like: "Vatican II says the local Bishop is not a representative of the Pope, but is the true head of his local diocesan Church", or "Bishops have a sacramental character eternally imprinted on their soul, hence they cannot be fired", or "Bad Bishops are not important, since Christ promised His Church would never falter", or "Punishing bad Bishops would do more harm than good", or "All Bishops are brothers, so they must seek unity, not create divisions", etc. Are these arguments true? Are we stuck with bad Bishops?

(Before starting, be forewarned that I'm far from an expert on the topic, and if ever there is a disagreement, I'm wrong and the Pope is right.)

2) What is the Church? What is a Bishop?

As usual, if there is going to be a possibility of saying something intelligent, we first need to ask ourselves "What are we talking about?"

What is the Catholic Church? Was She founded by men? Or did God Himself found Her, and does God Himself continue to guide Her? Is it some sort of social club, such that we can have fun together while satisfying our need to belong? Or is She a divine society to which all men must freely belong, in order to avoid Hell and obtain Heaven? Does the Church sooth us with small talk while dispensing milk and cookies, or does She infallibly teach us all of God's Revelation, while dispensing the Sacraments which heal the mortal wounds of sin, and nurture us into eternal health?

What is a Bishop? Is he a smooth talker, who was elected by his congregation to represent them in Rome, or is he a successor of the Apostles, chosen by the Holy Spirit? Is the Bishop a kind of moderator tasked with preventing his faithful from bickering among themselves, or is he Prophet, Priest and King? (Prophet to proclaim the Gospel, Priest to be head of the Liturgy, and King to govern by hiring and firing, punishing and rewarding.)

These questions are even more important given the immense power granted to Bishops. No Priest can dispense Sacraments without the Bishop's permission. No heman can become a Priest, unless the Bishop says so. Nobody can build a church, or found a new religious order, or teach in a Catholic school, or even hand out a flyer in a church, without the Bishop's consent. And to top it off, if anybody on planet Earth can say: "Go to Hell", it's a Bishop. He can excommunicate, i.e. "deliver unto Satan" [1Tm1:20].

You can easily imagine how much damage a bad Bishop can do! (If you don't have a lot of imagination, then see for example Section 5 of The Catholic Omertà.)

3) A society cannot attain its end, without good Government

The Church, as all societies, has a goal, a finality. As all societies, She cannot attain Her end without a Government (the "Kingly function"). She has to be able to hire and fire, punish and reward.

Because of the nature of the Church, and because of the immense power granted to Bishops, there must be a way to correct or get rid of bad Bishops. If not, souls would be condemned to Hell, without the Church being able to save them. We would have to assert that God is a moron, because he didn't give the Catholic Church the means to perform Her mission!

it is obviously most in harmony with God's providence that no one should have confided to him a great and important mission unless he were furnished with the means of properly carrying it out
[Satis cognitum, #8]

To this end He established in the Church all principles which necessarily tend to make organized human societies, and through which they attain the perfection proper to each.
[Satis cognitum, #10]

4) The Pope can punish and even get rid of bad Bishops

Given there is a mean to get rid of bad Bishops, what exactly is that mean? The Head of the College of Bishops, of course!

Indeed no true and perfect human society can be conceived which is not governed by some supreme authority. Christ therefore must have given to His Church a supreme authority to which all Christians must render obedience.
[Satis cognitum, #10]

the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power.
[Lumen Gentium, #22, §2]

§1. By virtue of his office, the Roman Pontiff not only possesses power offer the universal Church but also obtains the primacy of ordinary power offer all particular churches and groups of them. [...]

§3. No appeal or recourse is permitted against a sentence or decree of the Roman Pontiff.
[Code of Canon Law, #333]

5) Conclusion

So, what should the Pope do, given the current crisis in the Church? Sorry, I'm keeping my opinions mostly to myself.

But the faithful would know on which foot to dance, if the King dared to sing!

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