Christus Dominus 6: Looking Beyond the Bounds of One’s Diocese

Some of the sentiment in Christus Dominus 6 reflects the social concerns of the 50’s and 60’s. It also weaves in notions that undercut the false sense of the Catholic Church as a corporation or an army: pope at the top, curia next, and both giving marching orders to particular bishops. Just today I was reading a post from a Catholic on another site about how much better off we’d be if the pope exercised in-your-face authority and cleaned up our liberal, pedophile mess.

As legitimate successors of the Apostles and members of the episcopal college, bishops should realize that they are bound together and should manifest a concern for all the churches. For by divine institution and the rule of the apostolic office each one together with all the other bishops is responsible for the Church.

“All the churches” means dioceses and the various Eastern and Western rites. A bishop should be widened in his vision to the point that other areas beyond his diocese, especially places in spiritual need, must be considered part of his “concern” for the Church. Would that some bishops exercised more care for smaller and mission dioceses, rather than what see might net them a red hat:

They should especially be concerned about those parts of the world where the word of God has not yet been proclaimed or where the faithful, particularly because of the small number of priests, are in danger of departing from the precepts of the Christian life, and even of losing the faith itself.

The laity have an “active” role in these efforts of evangelization and ministry. Another of those “Spirit of Vatican II” moments some seem anxious to quash in the retrenchment. Clergy have a role to play, too:

(Bishops) should also see to it, as much as possible, that some of their own priests go to the above-mentioned missions or dioceses to exercise the sacred ministry there either permanently or for a set period of time.

CD 6 concludes by reminding bishops to see to material needs beyond their borders. The USCCB took this prescription to heart by pushing the CHD for so many years. Individual bishops, too, might be reminded of their responsibility. My own home diocese of Rochester NY had a relationship with the Mexican Diocese of Tabasco. Do you know if your diocese has paired with a Third World diocese? And if not, perhaps your bishop might take some friendly advice.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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