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Editor’s note: This text by Bishop Marian Eleganti was written in German and translated by LifeSiteNews with permission from the bishop.

(LifeSiteNews) — Based on my own experience, every bishop sits on 10-20 committees (councils, conferences, forums, boards, commissions, working groups, specialist groups, presidia, associations, etc., etc.). In these groups, the same topics and issues are negotiated and discussed in ever-changing compositions. In addition, the bishop has many meetings, church services, visitations, and much more: all in all, an overkill of appointments! Question: When does a bishop actually decide anything himself in his own responsibility before God for the diocese entrusted to him? In most cases, he follows majority decisions that are made in the aforementioned committees or the back office of the donors (at least in Switzerland). All these bodies are largely mixed: lay people, clergy, experts, women, and men sit on them and exert their influence. Nevertheless, the laity still feel that they have no say in decisions. Now, this synodal apparatus is being further inflated. The bishops rush from appointment to appointment, from meeting to meeting, like a hamster on a wheel. The structures keep them on their toes. The players in this Catholicism of committees spend hours and days at the meeting table. A glance at the agendas is enough to convince you that I am speaking from experience and not exaggerating.

So now, in addition to the existing councils, synodal councils are on the agenda, in which lay people are also to receive or exercise church leadership powers without distinction. A set of rules is being worked on diligently that is already foreseeably undermining the sacramental structure of the Church and its leadership. Assertions to the contrary are unconvincing. The rules of procedure of the last synod speak against this.

Is this synodality apostolic? No. It is not. Are we still on the same grounds as the most recent Council? No, we are not. We remember:

– In the Dogmatic Constitution “Lumen Gentium” (LG), the Second Vatican Council teaches the following about the role of a bishop: “[A]s a member of the episcopal college and legitimate successor of the apostles, [a bishop] is obliged by Christ’s institution and command to be solicitous for the whole Church” (23).

– The Council teaches that bishops preside in God’s place over the flock of which they are shepherds: “as teachers for doctrine, priests for sacred worship, and ministers for governing” (LG 20).

– The Council teaches that bishops “by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ.” (LG 20).

– The Council teaches that episcopal consecration also confers the ministries of teaching and leadership along with the office of sanctification (LG 21). Translated into canon law: “Only clerics can obtain offices for whose exercise the power of orders or the power of ecclesiastical governance is required” (CIC, c. 274).

– The Council teaches that only bishops are authentic teachers endowed with the authority of Christ (LG 25) and that they order the administration of the sacraments with their authority (LG 26).

– The Council teaches about the bishops that they lead the particular churches assigned to them as representatives and envoys of Christ by counsel, encouragement, and example, but also by authority and sacred power, and that this power, which they exercise personally in the name of Christ, belongs to them as their own, ordinary, and immediate power (LG 27).

– The Council teaches that bishops, together with the Pope and under his authority, continue the work of Christ, the eternal shepherd, throughout the ages. “[T]herefore, have been made true and authentic teachers of the faith, pontiffs, and pastors through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to them” (CD [Christus Dominus] 2).

– The Council teaches that bishops chosen from different parts of the world effectively assist the supreme pastor of the Church in a council called the “Synod of Bishops” (CD 5).

– The Council upholds the essential, not gradual, difference between the common priesthood of the faithful and the priesthood of bishops and priests (LG 10).

– The Council teaches about the laity that they are called to collaborate with the apostolate of the hierarchy – and can be called by the hierarchy to certain ecclesial ministries that serve spiritual ends (LG 33).

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On the basis of these guidelines, canon law states that only those who have received sacred orders are qualified to assume the power of governance, which exists in the Church by divine institution and which is also called the power of jurisdiction, but that lay people may participate in the exercise of this power in accordance with the law (CIC, can. 129 § 1 and § 2).

However, this participation does not mean that the episcopal authority is extended – through a kind of separation of powers in the governance of the Church by virtue of an egalitarian right to vote – to the laity, who sit alongside the bishops in the synodal councils and decide together with the latter on an equal footing at the meeting table (majority decisions). This not only abandons the foundation of the Council, but also undermines the apostolicity and sacramentality of the office of governance and neutralizes it through a kind of synodal parliamentarism (the so-called separation of powers). The consequences are foreseeable. This is well-known in the Eastern Church. Only in the Latin West do they continue to ignite the flames.

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