Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Pope is not the Bishop's Boss.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput explains how the Church hierarchy operates. In sum:

The Church is much closer to a confederation of families than a modern corporation. And this has real, everyday results. In practice, the influence of the Holy See on the daily life of theArchdiocese of Denver is strong in matters of faith and morals. We’re deeply grateful for the leadership and wonderful teaching of the papacy. But in the operational decisions of our local Church, the Holy See’s influence is remote. In twenty-two years as a bishop, my problems have never included a controlling or intrusive Vatican.

The Pope is not the bishop's boss. Yes, he could theoretically depose anyone he liked, but his role is not to micromanage the world's dioceses. He picks a bishop, then he lets the bishop do his job, and unless the bishop commits an infraction that endangers the unity of the Church or apostolic succession, the pope practically never intervenes in the bishop's affairs. If the bishop sucks, he sucks. The pope doesn't replace him. It's not the same operating principle as a business.