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Bishops In Communion With The Pope
Question from Rita Medernach on 4/22/2004:

April 22, 2004 - Bishops in Communion with the Pope. I am presenting some comments and would like an explanation on: What is meant by the reference : to be united to the bishops who are in communion with the Pope?

My experience has been that this has lead individuals into believing that they do not have to be submissive to their bishop, if they do not agree with what the Bishop is doing. My research ( Bible, Catholic Catechism of the Church, Faith of The Early Fathers) leads me to believe that we are to be obedient to the authority of Christ's representatives on earth in everything, but sin. I could not find an article to the contrary, with the exception of Fr. Gobbi’s book.( cf bottom of page)

One specific cause of confusion comes from in the book: To The Priests Our Lady’s Beloved Sons by Father Gobbi - Marian Movement of Priests - the Blessed Mother tells Fr. Gobbi- ’Do not follow those bishops who oppose the Pope’ ( #313- f. and g ) I don't think our Lady would say something like that, as it would leave the Church without proper representation and lead to more disunity. It appears to encourage laity to have the right to make judgment as to which bishops are following, or not following the Pope? Bishops and priests are humans and sinners (as was St. Peter, Jesus gave him the keys to build His Church )but continue to take God's place on earth.

Liberal views lead us to believe we are to take responsibility onto ourselves even if it means opposing authority. ( Bishops and priests) Is it any wonder we have confusion in our parishes in our thirst for Truth, not for individual opinions which refer to the Bible as fairy tales and stories, without any mention of being Divinely inspired.

Could you please help clarify the question, so we may be in a more enlightened position to speak out and encourage fidelity to God’s representatives. I love our Catholic faith and we need Christ’s representatives on earth.

Would I be able to publish your answer (in full) to the question below on my web site. God Bless. Rita Medernach

Answer by David Gregson on 5/19/2004:

On the face of it, all Catholic Bishops are in communion with the Pope, namely, all those who were ordained Bishops with the Pope’s approval. They are under his jurisdiction, and by their position in the Church, acknowledge him as their visible head. A Bishop may cease to be in communion with the Pope if he commits an excommunicable offense, (as did Archbishop Lefebvre, when he ordained Bishops contrary to Rome’s instruction). We are speaking now of visible communion. In this sense, a Bishop is either in communion with the Pope, or he is not.

One may also speak of an invisible communion, of which there are degrees, according to how far a Bishop conforms, in faith and practice, to the Magisterium of the Pope. In that sense, some Bishops are more in communion with the Pope than others. But their place in the hierarchy is not altered by acts of obedience or disobedience, unless the latter is punished by their being removed from office. As long as a Bishop is in office, he is due the respect of his office, and the obedience his office demands, except where it becomes evident that he is acting inconsistently with Rome’s instructions. In that case, and on that point, he need not and should not be obeyed, but on all other points, he should be obeyed, as long as he is the Bishop.

Fr. Gobbi should not be understood as encouraging disobedience to Bishops on any other grounds than a Bishop’s own disobedience to the Pope. And even then it would be only on that particular point that a Bishop’s flock should refuse to follow him. The principle is that we must obey lawful authority in all things but sin.

On Father Gobbi, see Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, click on "Blessed Virgin Mary," then on "Marian Movement of Priests."

Permission to reprint an answer on Catholic Q&A on another website is not granted, though it may be linked to from another website.

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