Rorate Caeli

No "servile subordination" between the Pope and the Bishops

LOURDES (Hautes-Pyrenees), 14 September 2008 (AFP) - Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, president of the Conference of Bishops of France, stressed that the relationship between the pope and the bishops "is not a servile relationship of subordination".

"The relationship of the pope with the bishops is not a boss/employee relationship. He is not the CEO of a multinational corporation who is coming to visit a branch office," said Cardinal Vingt-Trois during a press briefing held after the meeting between the pope and the bishops.

"We have welcomed him and listened to him as a brother who has come to reinforce the faith of those with whom he works and with whom he is in communion," said the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris.

"We are in a relationship of communion, of affection, and of collaboration. And when we have things to say to him, we say them" said Cardinal Vingt-Trois.

Earlier the pope had spoke before the bishops calling for the steadfastness of the Church in the face of the challenges of the contemporary world – a speech with the tone of a directive which was met by somewhat lukewarm applause.

Unofficial translation by Mornac


  1. Anonymous4:47 AM

    Sounds like somebody got spanked.

  2. Disgusting.

    Such are the hirelings and false shepherds of which our Lord spoke.

  3. Anonymous5:16 AM

    Granted, "servile subordination" is not the ideal pope-bishop relationship, but that does not mean that the only other alternative would be a "relationship of communion, of affection, and of collaboration". How about "loving obedience", even when you don't feel like conceding that the pope is your superior? The Church has already dogmatically decided for this bishop that the pope is his superior. He can only fool himself and others for so long that he isn't.

  4. That is a very blatant display of disrespect.
    More prayers for the Holy Father.

  5. Anonymous8:26 AM

    Outrageous! Holy Father, realize who your real friends are, those who are in genuine communion with you!

  6. Anonymous11:39 AM

    Might it have been appropriate for this brother bishop to speak even of love, caritas, in describing his relationship with the successor of Peter?

    Obedience is a Catholic thing and it isn't going away now or ever.

    When Peter speaks the case is closed.

  7. Anonymous11:39 AM

    "with whom *he* is in communion." Doesn't this sort of, uhm, invert the relationship? Vingt-Trois seems to have studied the SSPX well on how to describe a bishop's relationship to the Pope. God save the Church in France.

  8. Anonymous12:07 PM

    "We are in a relationship of communion, of affection, and of collaboration."

    Nothing like liberte, egalite, fraternite.

    ~ Belloc

  9. Anonymous12:46 PM

    There must be chances made in France. VERY SOON OR ELSE???

  10. ....Vingt-Trois seems to have studied the SSPX well on how to describe a bishop's relationship to the Pope.

    How about some Charity? This is an unfair shot at the SSPX Bishops. They respect the Holy Father and demand as much from their flock.

    The SSPX in all its Chapels world wide pray for the Holy Father.

    I am not an SSPX cheerleader; they do not disrespect the Holy Father.

  11. Anonymous2:22 PM

    We have here a consequence of the papal U-turn from the "act of tolerance" in the plane, poorly phrased and extremely worrying, and the actual message he delivered to FrenChurch : implement the Motu proprio and stop fussing around. Moreover join me, yes join me, to mend the rupture between Rome and SSPX.

    So you have the response of the n°1 of FrenChurch : hell no !

    The plane interview was exactly what cardinal Vingt-Trois wanted to hear and the Lourdes message is exactly what he is rejecting bluntly.
    Moreover the pope is confronting FrenChurch in several key fields :
    - stop the nonsense with priests and putting lay teams in charge above priests, look at saint John Marie Vianney !
    - stop the nonsense in interfaith dialogue.

    The pope is coating his very strong words with sugar but it's like a chili fudge for FrenChurch leaders. So the outburst of the calm, round, cardinal-abp of Paris.
    yes you can pray for the Church in France, suffering under "FrenChurch" leadership.

    Pray also that Benedict XVI finally stop appointing new FrenChurch bishops, as he did in the past 3 years - France got nearly only Niderauer like bishops - and appoint NEW bishops, Chaput like bishops.
    Americans will understand the difference.


  12. Now everyone can see the modernist episcopal post-conciliar perspective on the papacy: demoted to primus inter pares. Paradoxically, it is the traditionalists who hold the orthodox view. Modern French bishops are like many others elsewhere who treat the pope with a subtle contempt verging on insubordination. This is where the real spirit of disobedience lies in their attitude. It is more evident to understand how it was that Lustiger (RIP) and his ilk were able to resist the papal predecessor in his wishes to be more generous with the Latin Mass of All Times but to treat this request with disdain. There is the stench of schism in the French air.

  13. Anonymous3:36 PM

    The point of the spear has been publicly thrown at the Papacy. The action speaks to the reality that recent Popes have had to demure to. The geopolitical machine that opposes the 'Reform of the Reform' have been given marching orders. This was not a spontaneous rebuke of Pope Benedict. The 'smoke in the sanctuary' limits Pope Benedict's power. Like John Paul II, Benedict looks for a miraculous 2nd Pentecost event to save the Deposit of Faith.

  14. Anonymous4:17 PM

    - Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, president of the Conference of Bishops of France, stressed that the relationship between the pope and the bishops "is not a servile relationship of subordination".

    And because of what Professor Roman Amerio called: "The repudiation of authority", there will be no correction or penalty from Rome for this disobedience and lack of respect.

  15. Anonymous5:08 PM

    These comments were completely unnecessary and in bad taste, but surely they are not surprising and I doubt that the Holy Father is at all surprised. It is this fact that is the problem. Something must be done about the French episcopate and soon.

  16. From where do you think the word "frank" comes?

    At least the French are sayin' it like it is - they will not 'serve'.

    How about other bishop groups that believe this but pretend otherwise?

    [I have had it up to 'here' with "collegiality" and disrupted authority; the Pope IS the head of the Church!] Are the French are putting on armor to deflect any directives the Pope may have?

    This blatant attitude makes it obvious where Rome must do work. The French, as the eldest daughter of the Church, lead by example. How might the bad Catholic change if the French improve their attitude? Just thinking out loud...

    Tina in Ashburn

  17. Anonymous6:07 PM

    Pablo, I'm sorry you thought my comments uncharitable. However, the French bishops attitude is, "We will listen to him and if, in the end, we disagree with what he tells us to do or how he tells us to do it, he can take a long walk off a short pier. It is he who must agree with us, not us with him." Taking a look at the history of the SSPX over the last 38 years or so, how does this fundamentally differ from that of its bishops? Name one time when the bishop or bishops of said fraternity have done what the Pope has said to do or paid his authority any heed whatsoever. Il est impossible. They are Gallicans at heart. That is not uncharitable, that is simply a statement of fact. Could it be put more delicately? Possibly, but what would that serve?

  18. Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, president of the Conference of Bishops of France, stressed that the relationship between the pope and the bishops "is not a servile relationship of subordination".

    Can you imagine Timothy framing his relationship with Peter in such cold terms?

    Only a modernist would speak that way.

    Truly disgusting.

  19. Anonymous6:32 PM

    The opposite of subordination = insubordination

    Did you catch that, Holy Father?

  20. Anonymous6:39 PM

    Dear Cardinal V-T:

    Please refresh your memory regarding the following canons.

    Can. 331 The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.

    Can. 333 §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. Moreover, this primacy strengthens and protects the proper, ordinary, and immediate power which bishops possess in the particular churches entrusted to their care.

    §2. In fulfilling the office of supreme pastor of the Church, the Roman Pontiff is always joined in communion with the other bishops and with the universal Church. He nevertheless has the right, according to the needs of the Church, to determine the manner, whether personal or collegial, of exercising this office.

    §3. No appeal or recourse is permitted against a sentence or decree of the Roman Pontiff.

    Can. 375

    §2. Through episcopal consecration itself, bishops receive with the function of sanctifying also the functions of teaching and governing; by their nature, however, these can only be exercised in hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college.

  21. Anonymous7:23 PM

    If ONE MORE PERSON heckles me with "the SSPX is in schism" yet ignores all of this I'm going to spit.

  22. Why on earth did the Holy Father make this man a Cardinal?

  23. Anonymous10:00 PM

    Vingt-Trois was made a Cardinal because John Paul II put him in place in Paris before he died.

    Supposedly, he was the handpicked successor of Cardinal Lustiger...who wasn't the best by a long shot....but he was in some regards much more Catholic than Vingt-Trois.

    Hopefully this guy is old, and out of office in 8 years or so.

  24. To all commenters:

    The situation here in France is more complex than any of you imagines. The televised address to the bishops was a gloss-over. It had to be. What went on behind closed doors, I dread to think.

    You would all do better than to imagine that French orthodox Catholicism resides exclusively in the SPPX. The Herald Tribune makes that mistake. There is much more to it than that.

    I have spent the four days of the papal visit in front of the screen and reading secular and so called 'catholic' press reports. (And I am in France and have French good enough to catch undertones and all those journalistic tricks.)

    My initial judgment is that most of the Catholic press in France is in the bishops' pocket. They cling to the image of a Benedict they created themselves when he was still at the CDF. They can't bear it that he is proving himself no such thing.

    I'll give you one example of their mischief: talking of the different 'styles' of John Paul II and Benedict XVI: 'Benedict likes a quiet audience (implication because he is a professor and not a good pastor); John Paul liked a noisy responsive participating audience (implication the latter is a more effective way of being a shepherd.) They seem totally to have missed the point, ie: Benedict's call to silent contemplation, interior reflection and Eucharistic Adoration. He had them in the palm of Christ's hand and the journalists hated it.

    For what it's worth before I give up:

    The faith in France has almost been destroyed (as it has in England and Wales) by a new Protestantism which took Vatican II as an excuse to destroy the Church from within.

    Nobody in his senses would imagine that our Pope doesn't know what he is up against. He had been watching their shenanigans for 25 years before he was elected. He knows what they are , he knows 'where they live' and has more brain in his little finger that any of them has in his entire body.

    And one thing that really alerted me to an anti-Papa faction still strongly at work, was when I saw the Card of West. in a line-up next to CV23. It could have been coincidence of course....

    Far too complex for further comment tonight, but to end on a positive note. In his direct contact with youth and in his three major Masses in France, the bishops could not prevent Our Holy Father from reaching his flock.

    I will not explain further here. Anyone who wants to know more, please post and I will answer.

    The Holy Father told the French, episcopal and secular, that he would be praying for them all.
    Follow his example and got grant him strength. AD MULTOS ANNOS


  25. Anonymous10:34 PM

    Dear Eminence,

    You are right, that the episcopate is not in "servile" obedience to the papacy, but in a "respectful" obedience to the papacy. It is Peter's divine mandate, given him by the Lord, and thus, in obedience to Christ, it is Peter, whose role it is to strengthen all his brethren, instructing, guideing and governing the entire Body of Christ, the Church, including the bishops entrusted with shepherding and nourishing the flock with truth in charity.

    We must avoid not lording over Peter and his divine office.

    Thank you for speaking from the heart. It is helpful to hear from your lips the present lopsided relationship between the Episcopate and the Papacy in the Church, which must be restored in Christ.
    "To be Restored in Christ" as Pope St Pius X spoke.
    - A Novus Ordo priest with Tradition in the heart.

  26. This is the greatest argument in favor of the state of necessity claimed by the FSSPX. If one cannot see the intransigence of these bishops, one must be blind.

    But, this all started centuries ago with the concepts of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality coming to the forefront. Think about it - Liberty do do what they want in their own dioceses, Fraternity meaning they are all just brothers and Equality meaning that no one has any higher authority. This guy sees himself as some sort of Napoleon in liturgical garb.

  27. Anonymous12:39 AM

    Blogger Paul Haley said...

    This is the greatest argument in favor of the state of necessity claimed by the FSSPX. If one cannot see the intransigence of these bishops, one must be blind.

    Paul. The SSPX haters don't give a fig for that. Every chance they get to put the boot in they do. We could be talking French cheese and they'd still find an excuse to bash the Society. Haters are haters, whatever the ilk.

  28. Perhaps Pope Benedict will borrow a line from Winston Churchill:

    "the heavist cross i have to bear is the cross of Lorraine."


  29. Anonymous2:48 PM

    In the days of the great Pius XI, a certain cardinal merely questioned one of his directives. So Pius said, come on down and we'll discuss it. The man entered his office as a cardinal and left as a priest.

    I wish that Benedict would channel some of Pius XI's intolerance for insubordination, not to mention rudeness and incivility. A couple of well-placed examples would serve as a warning to the rest of the episcopacy. Not to mention the round of applause Benedict would get from those of us in the peanut gallery.

  30. Anonymous2:50 PM


    Please post more. Please.


  31. Jane,

    Please post more. Please.


    I agree. You can read more of Jane's observations and comments here:

    See the comment boxes and some of the italicized portions of the posts.

  32. "breviatio manus Domini" - as Romano Amerio said - disciplinary measures were thrown with the rest of tradition. now, the truth is supposed to be sufficient of herself to correct the disobedient. it's a vision of the world with a certain charm - a sort of naive pacificist's vision of the world - wouldn't it be wonderful if you could just hold the Summa Theologiae up in front of someone's face or the Catechism of the Council of Trent and that person would just fall in line?

    How in the world could Benedict take away the cardinal's hat from a prelate, when he's the very one who signs the cardinal's promotion in the first place?!

    the fault rests first with Benedict for appointing men like Vingt-Trois. though i'm also perfectly open to hearing the story of how Benedict's arm was twisted so that he was forced to appoint Vingt-Trois, Niederaurer, etc, etc. we'll wait and see what he does with the See of Westminster....

    by the bye, i would be very interested in seeing a citation for that story about pius xi and the demotion of a cardinal. that's rather hard to believe - so i'd be all the more delighted to read about it.

  33. I see why the SSPX is strong in France. With bishops like this, it's amazing that anybody goes to mass at all.

  34. Anonymous7:36 PM

    Josephus, you write: "though i'm also perfectly open to hearing the story of how Benedict's arm was twisted so that he was forced to appoint Vingt-Trois, Niederaurer, etc, etc. we'll wait and see what he does with the See of Westminster...."

    How about how many times John Paul's arms must have been twisted, given all the terrible episcopal appointments HE made?

    What's your point? Do you see conpiracies everywhere?


  35. No, I'm not looking for conspiracies everywhere. Rather, my first stop is to think that this rests at the feet of John Paul and Benedict, I mean, the bad appointments.

    But - I'm also willing to give them the benefit of the doubt (I'm hoping to give them the benefit of the doubt!) and so if someone has a good explanation, I'd be happy to hear why John Paul could not but appoint so many awful bishops. That's the sort of benefit of the doubt story that's behind, I think, Malachi Martin's Windswept House - there are good guys and bad guys at work in the governance of the Church - and the bad guys are often thwarting or mostly thwarting the actions and aims of the good guys.

  36. Anonymous1:21 PM

    In the days of the great Pius XI, a certain cardinal merely questioned one of his directives. So Pius said, come on down and we'll discuss it. The man entered his office as a cardinal and left as a priest.

    I believe this story is about the great Louis Cardinal Billot (who drafted Pascendi), but I wonder if it isn't apocryphal. It is true that Card. Billot resigned from the College during the Pontificate of Pius XI, but whether his resignation was forced is something I don't think we can know with any certainty.

    Sometimes I wonder whether Pope Benedict XVI makes certain moves to avoid casting doubt on the legacy of his predecessor.

  37. to avoid casting doubt on the legacy, etc.

    perhaps not impossible - but it would be horrible if true! is the legacy of his predecessor of greater good than the good of the Church and the salvation of souls?!

    and, after all, john paul himself was rather hands off in the appointment of many bishops, much of that work falling to Cardinal Re and his congregation. benedict got attention early on in his pontificate for rejecting the appointments from the congregation of bishops - but we still wound up with guys like niederaurer - and no major sees have been filled by stunningly good appointments (if i'm remembering correctly). though in smaller places, some good guys are moving up through the ranks

  38. Laura, this Italian Marxist author will not be mentioned here at all - which is why your comment was deleted.

  39. Laura and everyone else:

    H.E.23 had another slimy comment on a kto interview. Talking about supporters of the Summorum Pontificum, he claimed that some of them had used it as an excuse 'to make war on their bishops'.

    This sort of remark reveals part of his strategy, namely to convince everyone that all traditionalists are dangerous. They are either SSPX or extreme right wing monarchists, followers of Le Pen, or all three. THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT THE CASE. TAKE A LOOK AT PAIX LITURGIQUE WHICH IS AN INTERNETWORKING SITE FOR ENCOURAGING LICIT GROUPS WHO ARE WORKING FOR THE TLM ALL OVER FRANCE. THEY ARE NOT SSPX SO FAR AS I CAN DETECT. (MORE ABOUT PL LATER ON PAPA IN FRANCE.

    I think you can be certain that the Pope knows exactly what was going on. I HAVE LONG SUSPECTED THAT A BATTLE IS IN PROGRESS WITHIN THE VATICAN.

    Urgent reading: Cardinal Castrillon's address to the AGM of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales. Buried amongst all the praise and gratitude for the Society's work over almost 4 decades. In an appeal for their continued help, was a phrase that chilled my soul: 'We are few'. I read this as Vatipeak for, 'We are few in the Vatican, not just in the world at large or here in UK.'

    Ecclesia Dei which is Card. Castrillon's charge, is about to publish a further clarifying document on Summorum Pontificum. There is a conference on the Summorum currently in progress in Rome. Fr. Z of blog WDTPRS is there. Essential to read his comments.

    I trust all of you will join Confiteor in praying that our most Holy Father Benedict will receive strength and courage to exert his Petrine authority.

    Later today I'll be putting up some links which will help to shed more light on the situation in general and on the French and English ones in particular.

    Please do read my posts on Papa in France and also on Fr Tim Finigan's blog The Hermeneutic of Continuity. Yesterday Fr put up an interesting video clip under the heading Excellent reporting from France. I posted a long comment there which he anwered, saying that he would publicise my blog, 'Thoughts from the Desert of French Catholicism' when it is up and running, and of course Confiteor, that means he will be publicising the Flagship and Armada.

    We are making headway and I agree that we should be a profoundly spiritual group of blogs, where charity towards the opponents of Papa Benedetto is impeccable.
    These things are read in the Vatican. So when you post imagine that Papa may actually read what you say!!!!!!! He is known to use the technology!!!!

    Must go now but will put up the promised links later today.

    God bless,
    In Christo pro Papa,
    In Papa pro Christo



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