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By Fr. Gerald E. Murray, The Catholic Thing, July 23, 2019
The draft of the new Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Praedicate Evangelium (PE), contains doctrinal imprecisions that have grave implications for the correct understanding of the relationship between the pope and the College of Bishops. The second chapter, “Criteria and Principles for the Roman Curia,” invokes the Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, yet ignores the clear teaching of the Preliminary Note of Explanation that was published as an appendix at the specific instruction of Pope Paul VI.
The Secretary General of the Council, Pericle Felici, informed the Council Fathers that Paul VI directed that “the doctrine set forth in Chapter III ought to be explained and understood in accordance with the meaning and intent of this explanatory note.” Chapter III is entitled “On the Hierarchical Structure of the Church and in Particular on the Episcopate.”
The question is the proper understanding of the relationship between the pope and the bishops as a “college.” Does the College of Bishops exist apart from and independently from the Roman pontiff? Can the College act as a body apart from and in contradistinction to the pope?