Wednesday, November 12, 2008





by Cliff Zarsky

The two-year election campaign leading up to the election of November 4, 2008 was marked by too many instances of bishops who were the heads (ordinaries) of (arch)dioceses of the United States either failing to provide their flocks with moral guidance with regard to the burning issue of the protection of innocent human life from abortion or embryonic stem-cell exploitation, or even worse, providing erroneous guidance.

Bishop Rene H. Gracida answers the title question as follows:

"First, while it is true that each (Bishop) Ordinary is the teacher on faith and morals for his diocese, he cannot teach in isolation from the teaching of the Vicar of Christ; there must be more than a minimum of conformity."

The Obligations of Communion are stated in Canon 209:

#1 The Christian faithful, even in their own manner of acting, are always obliged to maintain communion with the Church.

#2 With great diligence they are to fulfill the duties which they owe to the universal Church and the particular church to which they belong according to the precepts of law.

The interrelatonships resulting from communio and the consequent obligation to maintain communion affect every aspect of the Church’s life and mission. Communio finds particular expression through the communion of the faithful (communio fidelium), and the communion of the churches (communio ecclesiarum), and hierarchical communion (communio hierearchia)

The communio hierarchia reflects the bond of unity existing within the Church as hierarchically constituted; the pope "is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity both of the bishops and the multitudes of the faithful, and is obliged to maintain communion (c.333,#2) In its broadest application, hierarchical communion recognizes that the Church is both a spiritual community and a society with hierarchical structures. In a more specific application, this communion reflects the unity within the Church’s hierarchical structure, especially among members of the college of bishops. Thus, for example, communio hierarchia is required for a bishop to exercise the functions he received through ordination.

The Canon law on the Institution and Functions of Bishops 375 #2 states: "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" This is further explained: "Thus, transcending the particular canonical mission of individual bishops and considering their episcopal consecration and membership within the college of bishops, there exists a true and basic equality among the bishops, under the primacy of the Supreme Pontiff (see cc 330,336). The power of bishops "cannot be exercised in an entirely autonomous or independent manner. Rather they must act in accord with the communio structures given by Christ to the Church: that is, in communion with the whole of the episcopal body, and in submission to the one who is its head."

The teaching by United States Bishops has led Catholics to believe they can morally vote for candidates who promote and vote for legalized abortion, the premeditated murder of innocent helpless humans, which is the greatest genocide in the history of the world and continues to some degree because too many bishops either fail to teach in union with the Vicar of Christ, or worse, teach in opposition to the teachings of the Pope.
- Cliff Zarsky

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