Tag Archives: USCCB

Living Vicariously

17 Jan

ServantsoftheGospelThe next document in our series on the documents of the Second Vatican Council is the 1965 Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church (Christus Dominus).

I really appreciate Vatican II’s specifically on the individual bishop. Some Catholics rightly put great emphasis on the Pope’s authority, but then downplay the role of the local bishop. Others affirm the authority of the bishop, but only inasmuch as he is part of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). In the first view, the bishop is merely the minion of the Pope. In the second view, the bishop is most essentially our representative with the national body. Neither view gives sufficient respect to the authority of the bishop himself.

Against both of these caricatures, Vatican II stresses the role of the individual bishop. While affirming the specific role of the Pope as pastor of the universal Church, Christus Dominus provides that bishops “having been appointed by the Holy Spirit, are successors of the Apostles as pastors of souls. Together with the supreme pontiff and under his authority they are sent to continue throughout the ages the work of Christ, the eternal pastor. Christ gave the Apostles and their successors the command and the power to teach all nations, to hallow men in the truth, and to feed them. Bishops, therefore, have been made true and authentic teachers of the faith, pontiffs, and pastors through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to them” (no. 2, footnotes omitted).

We’re all accustomed to referring to the Pope as the Vicar of Christ. After all, it was Peter who received the keys (cf. Mt. 16:18-19), and as Catholics we recognize the Pope’s role as Christ’s chosen representative to rule and guide the universal Church until the end of time.

But one teaching that sometimes gets overlooked is that the bishops are not simply vicars of the Pope, but vicars of Christ Himself in the particular Church (i.e., diocese) assigned to them. They legitimately exercise their role only in communion with the Pope, but nonetheless they personally exercise their office in the name of Christ as a successor of the apostles. The bishop is neither a mere representative of the Pope nor does he legitimately exercise authority apart from the Pope (see Catechism, nos. 880-96, especially 894-95).

Some may be surprised to know that a number of Popes have even referred to Christian parents as vicars of Christ in the home. For example, Pope Pius XI, in his 1929 encylical Divini Illius Magistri, wrote: “Parents . . . should be careful to make right use of the authority given them by God, whose vicars in a true sense they are.” Of course this truth connects well with Vatican II’s emphasis on the family as the “domestic Church” or “Church in miniature.” Continue reading

U.S. Bishops Announce Five-Point Plan

17 Dec

usccb-logoEarlier this month, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced a campaign of prayer and fasting in 2013 for the “rebuilding of a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increased protections of religious liberty.”

The campaign, which will begin the Sunday after Christmas, “is essentially a call and encouragement to prayer and sacrifice--it’s meant to be simple," said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. “It’s not meant to be another program but rather part of a movement for life, marriage, and religious liberty, which engages the New Evangelization and can be incorporated into the Year of Faith.”

In addition, as a culture that tends to make “New Year’s resolutions,” we do well as individuals, families, and parishes to incorporate this plan--especially the call to abstain from meat and fast on all Fridays--into our own lives. In doing so, we would be following the edifying example of Archbishop Naumann.

The campaign, which will begin the Sunday after Christmas, has five parts: Continue reading

Living Vicariously

12 Mar

We’re all accustomed to referring to the Pope as the Vicar of Christ. After all, it was Peter who received the keys, and as Catholics we recognize the role of St. Peter’s successor as Christ’s chosen representative to rule and guide the Universal Church until the end of time.

But one teaching that sometimes gets overlooked today is that the bishops are not simply vicars of the Pope, but vicars of Christ Himself in the particular Church (i.e., diocese) assigned to them. They legitimately exercise their role only in communion with the Pope, but nonetheless they personally exercise their office in the name of Christ as a successor of the apostles. He is neither a mere representative of the Pope nor does he legitimately exercise authority apart from the Pope (See Catechism, nos. 880-96, especially 894-95).

Of course we saw all this play out last week when Archbishop Naumann made his ad limina visit to the Holy See with the other bishops from Kansas and Nebraska.

Some may be surprised to know that a number of Popes have even referred to Christian parents as vicars of Christ in the home. For example, Pope Pius XI, in his 1929 encylical Divini Illius Magistri, wrote: “Parents . . . should be careful to make right use of the authority given them by God, whose vicars in a true sense they are.”

Of course this truth connects well with Vatican II’s emphasis on the family as the “domestic Church” or “Church in miniature.”

Now the Pope, the bishops, and Christian parents are all vicars or representatives of Christ in different senses and in different realms, but these roles again need to be understood and exercised in a complementary, not competitive sense. Continue reading

Chilling Attack on Religious Freedom

7 Mar

A stinging Wall Street Journal editorial has backed Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York in his criticism of the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate, describing the White House stand as a “chilling” attack on religious freedom.

Catholic World News summarizes:

“Citing Cardinal Dolan’s report on a meeting with White House aides, at which representatives of the bishops’ conference were told that issues of conscience were ‘off the table,’ the Journal editorial observed: ‘In other words, the White House’s solution is merely for the bishops to shut up about the wrinkles.’ With their condescending citation of some liberal Catholics who approved the mandate, the Journal continued, the Obama administration was ‘in effect telling the bishops that they know less about church teachings than your average Washington Post columnist.’

“The Journal recognized the Obama administration’s strategy of dividing the Church, noting the implicit White House message that ‘Catholics who actually abide by their faith are opposed to modernity.’ The editorial concluded with the observation that apparently the Catholic bishops cannot stop ‘the dominant wing of America’s governing political party from insisting that religion kneel before its secular will.'”

Christ and His Church Are One

18 Nov

This past week, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York gave the opening address at the annual fall meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Archbishop Naumann praised this address, noting that it set the tone for the meeting and refocused the bishops on the most important thing: namely, that “Love for Jesus and His Church must be the passion of our lives!”

At his archdiocesan blog, Archbishop Dolan provides the complete text of his address, but he especially invites us to consider the following excerpt:

You and I believe with all our heart and soul that Christ and His Church are one.

That truth has been passed on to us from our predecessors, the apostles, especially St. Paul, who learned that equation on the Road to Damascus, who teaches so tenderly that the Church is the bride of Christ, that the Church is the body of Christ, that Christ and His Church are one.

That truth has been defended by bishops before us, sometimes and yet even today, at the cost of “dungeon, fire, and sword.”

That truth–that He, Christ, and she, His Church, are one–moistens our eyes and puts a lump in our throat as we whisper with De Lubac, “For what would I ever know of Him, without her?”

Each year we return to this premier see of John Carroll to gather as brothers in service to Him and to her.  We do business, follow the agenda, vote on documents, renew priorities and hear information reports.

But, one thing we can’t help but remember, one lesson we knew before we got off the plane, train, or car, something we hardly needed to come to this venerable archdiocese to learn, is that “love for Jesus and His Church must be the passion of our lives!”