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For anyone who doesn't know what Gallicanism was, look it up. It's a heresy!

Quote:Thomas L. McDonald 10/12/2015

Febronius was the pseudonym of Johann Nikolaus von Hontheim, who wrote against papal authority over German churches. Gallicanism, and its German sibling Febronianism, was the French notion that regional and state authority and custom have equal or greater authority than that of the pope representing the universal church. It’s not merely an extension of collegiality, but rather a semi-schismatic action that risks full rupture with the one holy Catholic and apostolic church by creating a host of alternate mini-magisteria.

And a version of it seems to be what the German episcopate wants for the Church.

Even a cursory reading of Church history reveals that one of its major recurring themes is the tension between secular and spiritual authority, with the papacy claiming exalted power not only to proclaim definitively on matters related to faith and morals, but to enthrone and depose kings. Meanwhile, the kings alternately embraced and resisted (and sometimes both) this authority based upon whatever served their own interests. The issue persisted until the 19th century, when the decline in secular papal authority and the loss of the Papal States led Leo XIII to declare, in Immortale Dei (1885), the separation of powers into “the ecclesiastical and the civil, the former set over things divine, the latter over things human.”

Part of the drive to define papal infallibility at Vatican I was to settle the extent of papal power that was exacerbated during the 18th and 19th century tensions between Ultramontanism (which supported total papal authority and was most enthusiastically embraced, ironically, by the Jesuits) and Gallicanism/Febronianism (which has asserted, at various times over the course of centuries, that this power was distributed among secular authority, local churches, and/or councils).

Vatican I drew the fangs of both movements, and largely settled the issue of Conciliarism. As initially defined by William of Ockham, Conciliarism is the notion that the entire body of bishops in council have an authority exceeding that of the popes. The doctrine of papal infallibility put that notion to rest in one sense, but left a role for bishops in council that allowed Vatican II, in Lumen Gentium (1964) to find a compromise between papal infallibility and the role of the College by stating that “the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff.” Vatican II encouraged collegiality (and rightly so) by binding pope and bishops together while leaving the pope as the final word.

And here we come to the current problem, which is the idea, currently floating in the air, that national conferences or councils have some extra-magisterial authority.

Long before the age of revoltion, the Council of Trent took on the following proposal:  “The convening of a national council is one of the canonical ways, by which controversies regarding religion may be terminated in the Church of the respective nations,—so understood, that controversies regarding faith and morals, in whatever church they may have arisen, can be terminated by an indisputable decision by a national council, as though exemption from error in questions of faith and morals were applicable to a national council."

Trent’s declaration on this notion?

“Schismatical, heretical.”

And in case anyone thinks I’m just reaching back to that bad ole Council of Trent, Lumen Genitum also shuts the door on it, quite firmly: “For it is the duty of all bishops to promote and to safeguard the unity of faith and the discipline common to the whole Church.” [emphasis added]

Note well the word: discipline. Not dogma, not doctrine. This is a direct and specific limitation on the powers of bishops and local councils to practice disciplines that are not shared by the universal church. When the Germans suggest doing their own thing in adapting the Kasper proposal, they are in direct defiance not of a Tridentine document, but a document of Vatican II.

So, when we hear cardinals suggesting their local conferences may go their own way, we have reason for concern. For example:

Cardinal Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, said as far as doctrine is concerned, the German episcopate remains in communion with the Church, but on individual issues of pastoral care, “the synod cannot prescribe in detail what we have to do in Germany.”

The German bishops want to publish their own pastoral letter on marriage and family after the synod, the article says.

“We are not just a subsidiary of Rome,” Cardinal Marx said. “Each episcopal conference is responsible for the pastoral care in their culture and has to proclaim the Gospel in its own unique way. We cannot wait until a synod states something, as we have to carry out marriage and family ministry here.”

“Pastoral care” is discipline, and Trent already described this action:

Schismatical, heretical.
Good article, Jovan.

Really nice point about the statements on 'discipline' in Lumen Gentium. It is a disciplinary matter, so in a sense it can be changed, but only if it is changed for all.

I think Card. Marx is thinking that if Germany starts doing this themselves, all the divorcees of the world will go live in Germany and pay church tax . . .
The author is trying to get to the right point and he's in the ballpark, but he confuses various things in his analysis and so his ultimate argument is weak and somewhat off the mark.  While he muddles a few other minor points, most central to his argument is his application of the condemnation he attributes to "Trent" (which  is actually from a document promulgated by Pope Pius VI a couple centuries later).  The heretical and schismatical aspect of the condemnation does not lie in the idea that local synods can make doctrinal judgments or enact disciplines--they have done so often throughout history (the actual Council of Trent, for example, requires periodic local synods for "the regulation of morals, the correction of abuses, the settlement of controversies, and for other purposes permitted by the sacred canons.")

Rather, the error in the proposition is this line: "so understood, that controversies regarding faith and morals, in whatever church they may have arisen, can be terminated by an indisputable decision by a national council, as though exemption from error in questions of faith and morals were applicable to a national council." This is heretical because there can always be appeal to or correction from the Apostolic See.

The author then misinterprets the quote from Lumen Gentium--yes, all bishops together are responsible for  those particular disciplines which are common to the whole Church, but that doesn't mean that individual bishops or local synods cannot also be responsible for particular disciplines in their own jurisdictions (in other words, at the most fundamental level, a bishop in one place is not responsible for the discipline in another place, except when that discipline is one common to the whole Church, then all bishops are responsible for it). 

Bishops and local synods should teach and pastor their flocks--that's why they exist by the will of God-- and diversity in discipline (provided it is not contrary to the faith) is not per se bad.  The papacy, on the other hands, exists is to serve unity--when the decisions of bishops or local synods are harmful to unity, including of course the unity of faith, or where the faith or the common good of the Church requires a uniformity of discipline, then Rome should take the necessary action.

Finally, we need to distinguish between actual synods and episcopal conferences. Episcopal conferences are essentially a kind of permanent apparatus to help coordinate episcopal activity for the good of their region (there's no problem with this). They date back to the 19th century and historically existed alongside and complementary to particular synods, but in more recent time they seem to have replaced the traditional synods completely as a practical matter even though they lack any real authority (the Apostolic See has sometimes delegated authority to episcopal conferences which is its prerogative).  In fact, in one of his books (Called to Communion, I think), then Cardinal Ratzinger explains that true reform involves pruning back or eliminating the human institutions in the Church which, while originally instituted to help the divine elements be more effective in particular circumstances, now obscure those elements in new circumstances--he gave episcopal conferences as a theoretical example.

So the point is, there is nothing wrong with bishops or synods making doctrinal judgments or disciplinary or pastoral decisions--that's their job description (it is not generally the job description of episcopal conferences). But the Pope also has his job description, which is to ensure the integrity and unity of all the Churches--and this can involve correcting the decisions of other bishops or making doctrinal judgments or disciplinary or pastoral decisions effective anywhere or everywhere in the whole Church.