Rorate Caeli

"Unresolved Tensions in Papal-Episcopal Relations": New Anthology Maps Out the Terrain

Os Justi Press has just released a new book that will be of interest to many readers of this weblog: Unresolved Tensions in Papal-Episcopal Relations: Essays Occasioned by the Deposition of Bishop Joseph Strickland.

This book brings together essays and articles by 14 authors who wrestle with ecclesiological and canonical questions prompted by some of the tyrannical acts of Pope Francis, using this as a springboard for a broader consideration of the rights and duties of a bishop according to traditional theological sources.

The centerpiece of the book is the respectful but intense debate between José Ureta and John Lamont concerning whether a bishop unjustly deposed should accept his deposition as a valid act of papal jurisdictional primacy (even if it be an illicit or sinful one), or should rather refuse to acknowledge it and remain in his see. Ureta argues for the former position, Lamont for the latter. Each marshals quotes from classic authors on behalf of his side. It’s one of the best high-level debates I’ve seen in years. Several of these pieces by Ureta and Lamont appeared first at Rorate Caeli. They are given definitive form in the book.

While I agree with Lamont’s position, I do recognize that Ureta’s counterpoints deserve the serious consideration of any Catholic thinker who seeks the truth in these difficult and subtle topics.

Stepping back to look at the anthology as a whole, I will simply say, as one who reads widely and voraciously, that there is nothing like this book in print. I’m not even sure there’s ever been anything like it. The spirit of ultramontanism that has dominated for over 150 years has blocked earnest inquiry into the inherent and (to a degree) independent authority of bishops by crying “conciliarism!” or “Gallicanism!” the moment someone dares to suggest that the papacy may not be an absolute monarchy from which all ecclesial power flows.

Some progressives around the time of Vatican II were keen to cut the liberal bishops loose from Rome, but their motivations were evil and their arguments puerile. This book is different, as it delves into Church history, theology, and canon law to understand the mutual relations, rights, and responsibilities of the pope and the bishops toward each other and toward the Mystical Body of Christ, which is prior to and determinative of their offices.

In particular, serious attention is given to the Bishop Strickland case, with theologians and canonists demonstrating the injustice and irregularity of his removal.

Unresolved Tensions features an incisive Foreword by Dr. Joseph Shaw, which appears for the first time in the book; a preface; 17 chapters; an epilogue; 4 appendices; a bibliography; and an index. Here is the Table of Contents:

Available in paperback, hardcover, or ebook.

To peek inside, and to order, go to Os Justi Press, or to Amazon (the paperback and hardcover listings aren't yet linked). Of course, the book can be found on any Amazon site across the world.

It is high time these questions are debated with the care and depth they require, for much is at stake in knowing, and following, the truth of the matter.