Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 25, 2002
Bishops 'march to Rome's orders'
Canon law expert says Cdn. prelates lost their authority
By ART BABYCH
"For all practical purposes, it's the Holy See that determines the agenda."
- Fr. Francis Morrisey
He said some decisions requiring a response from the Vatican were held up in Rome over the last few years, but that was prior to the recent appointment of Cardinal Francis Arinze, as the new prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
The conference now looks forward to "an unblocking of a number of things," the CCCB general secretary said.
"While there is more centralization in Rome than there has been for a while, it's certainly not a one-sided street," said Schonenbach.
Schonenbach, along with CCCB president Bishop Jacques Berthelet and vice-president Archbishop Brendan O'Brien, returned Nov. 17 from a nine-day visit to curial offices in Rome and a meeting with Pope John Paul.
Morrisey, whose talk at Saint Paul University was about the reception of Vatican II at the institutional level of the Church, suggested that a national plenary council may be needed to generate enthusiasm in the Church in Canada.
Legislative powers given to the council, which could also hear from participants other than bishops, would be subject to the approval of Rome.
But the canon law expert said a plenary council in Canada "might be a very bad thing" because some of the newer bishops may be considered "reactionary" and "might want to bring things back to a restoration era."
The result, he said, may be to "suppress some of the structures" of the Church in Canada.
"I'm sad to have to say that, because we had a lot of impetus, we had a lot of creativity, but it just hasn't worked out that way."
The canon law professor also suggested that bishops and theologians are "afraid to take a stand, afraid to act" because of the "climate of the denunciation" in the Church. "It's not creative, it's not helping our theologians, and somewhere along the line, we're going to need a clarification."
The dreams of Vatican II "are still there" observed the Oblate canonist in concluding. "It's a question now of finding a new catalyst to bring them to reality."
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.