The latest controversial case is the case Fabienne Brugere.The speech of the philosopher for 19 March before the French Bishops' Conference has been canceled.
Gallican Bishops of France's Mind Games?
The cancellation sparked fierce debate in France. Stephanie Le Bars, wrote in her blog for Le Monde , the case "proves that strong disagreements prevail within the Catholic Church which are broken up by the discussion of "marriage for all". As a "marriage for all" is only the law legalizing "gay marriage" in France, from which the counter-movement "Manif pour tous" takes its name.
The decision of the Bishops' Conference to allow the philosopher Fabienne Brugere to speak at a training session was criticized in Catholic circles. Brugere who already had guest professorships in Hamburg and Munich, is considered a representative of bridge-building, is seeking to mediate the Bishops' Conference with the government. The Bishops' Conference meekly opposed the introduction of "gay marriage". However, an active minority supported the resistance and forced the majority of the bishops to take a stand.
Search for a Accomodations of the Bishops with the Government
No sooner had "gay marriage" but been approved by Parliament, when most bishops withdrew from the resistance and has looked back since then to form of arrangements with the government majority, although this rarely prosecuted as another a radically anti-Catholic course. The invitation to Brugere should assist in "Arrangements".
But on the other hand rose up in protest of the Church. The projection is therefore attributed to "certain Catholic circles", where the labels who are good and who is evil taken up quickly by the secular media. Father Louis-Marie Guitton expressed, however, on the website of the traditionally friendly Diocese of Frejus-Toulon, that the French Bishops' Conference is being flirtatious with a new Gallicanism: "As Pope Francis is in favor of a real subsidiarity in the Church, it is to be feared that the old demons of Gallicanism is not all dead. The 'offices', 'presentations' and commissions of the Bishops' Conference are not the French Church.'"
2000 dispute between Cardinal Ratzinger and Cardinal Kasper on the understanding of the church
Can the Episcopal Conferences be autonomous or must the bishops always be in complete agreement with each other and be more so with the Pope as "successors of the Apostles"? The question is not new. In early 2000 there was a famous debate between the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Cardinal Walter Kasper. The future Pope Benedict XVI. defended the understanding of the Church as the universal Church. The world Church he described as "a reality that is always comes ontologically and chronologically before any particular church". An understanding of the church, which was critized by the then secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kasper. Kasper turned the understanding of the Church on its head. Not a world Church with a clear center, which is divided into a number of local churches, but many local churches, which only form a single whole. Where does the primacy come in, that of Rome or the local churches?
If Diocese or the Sum of Dioceses Form a Local State Church?
The specific question goes even further: How important are national churches in the form of episcopal conferences?Where already are "national churches" defined by the current state borders meaning a subordination of spiritual things under the mundane concerns of states. In other words, with this breakdown, the decision is in favor of practical things and not the doctrine of faith. Who is the local church? Is it, according to the understanding of the Church of Benedict XVI. the single diocese with their bishop, who exercises the responsibility and sole decision-making authority in his field? Or are the dioceses of only a minor appendage of the Episcopal Conferences that have taken over the rights of the dioceses as an autonomous institution?
Between Canon Law and Reality
Considered canon law, things are as Benedict XVI. defined. The diocesan bishop and not the chairman of a bishops' conference is a sacramental reality in the church. But in reality, the Bishops' Conferences are often taken the place of rights and obligations of the individual bishops with their apparatus. The majority decisions in the Bishops' Conference are formed according to a consensus. This means, first above all that possible minorities should not be considered. Because the Bishop of Chur Vitus Huonder does not want to submit otherwise to the dictates of the majority of the Bishops' Conference, he published his reply to the questionnaire of Rome to moral teaching of the Church about remarried divorcees and homosexuals independently, as he is required by Church law . That earned him a lot of criticism because he thwarted the intention to report a unit review for the whole of Switzerland to Rome. An opinion that has little in common with that of Bishop Huonders. Huonder was with his "go it alone" spoiler vote undermined a uniform position that hardly tolerates dissent and intends to carry through the "unity vote" of the Episcopal Conference to pressure Rome.
Another aspect of the episcopal conferences is the opportunity it provides bishops to hide behind it. However, does the Bishops' Conference relieve a bishop of his responsibility?
Cardinal Baldisseri: Strengthening the Bishops' Conferences
The divergence of the Church away from Peter, the center of unity, towards a spin-off of the local churches, poses a serious threat to the unity of faith and doctrine. Pope Francis seems with Monsignor Lorenzo Baldisseri the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, and who was also made cardinal at the end February, to forego the risk to shake the fragile unity of the Church. The price for such a development is clear, but where are the benefits?
The decision of Pope Francis, to allow Cardinal Walter Kasper at the Consistory to speak and explain his controversial theories about remarried divorcees, at least is read from the perspective of a German as "Gallican".
"Process of Decentralization" Towards National Churches
Cardinal Baldisseri said in an interview by Jean Mercier: "The process of decentralization takes place in a medium in which the episcopal conferences and other regional and continental episcopal conferences are given significance." The discussion about "subsidiarity" and "decentralization", therefore, does not mean that between Rome and the dioceses meet as local churches, but between Rome and the bishops' conferences as "national churches".
In the Apostolic Letter Evangellii Gaudium Pope Francis says the Second Vatican Council had compared the Episcopal Conferences with the ancient patriarchates. How could this contribute in multiple and fruitful ways, so that the Bishops' Conferences, could be realize the collegial sense concretely.
The line of approach has been struck in this direction by the C8-Kardinalsrat of Pope Francis. It's a risky path.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
image: Messa in Latino
image: Messa in Latino