The Pope is No Monarch,
April 3, 2001 from Deutsche Presse-Agentur
The papacy should not be viewed as an absolute monarchy but as a reference point for the entire Roman Catholic Church, one of Pope John Paul II's closest aides said in an April 3 interview published by the Milan daily Il Giornale.
"The Pope is not the bishops' ruler, he is a servant of the community," said Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the influential Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
With the role of the papacy sometimes acting as a source of friction between Roman Catholics and other Christian denominations, experts said Ratzinger's latest message may be viewed as a signal of appeasement towards Orthodox Christians. The Cardinal acknowledged as much in the interview.
"Orthodox (Christians) think that the Catholic Church has distorted (the concept of) communion by becoming an absolute monarchy. This is not the case. There exists a community of local Churches which have the Pope as their reference point," Cardinal Ratzinger said.
The Pope himself hinted at a possible debate on the role of the papacy as he announced an extra May 21-24 Consistory. The gathering of Cardinals is expected to discuss ways of achieving greater ecumenism as well as the future of the Roman Catholic Church.
"How can we not remember that the ministry of Peter, the visible principle of unity, constitutes a difficulty for other Churches and ecclesiastical communities?" the Pope said at the time as he quoted one of his previous encyclicals.
The Pontiff is scheduled to travel to Greece, Syria and Malta in May. The Athens leg of the trip the first by a Pope in modern times is seen as an important step towards improving relations between Christians following the Great Schism of the 11th Century.
In the April 3 interview, Cardinal Ratzinger also called for greater consultation and co-operation within the Catholic Church, particularly at the practical rather than theoretical level.
Comment by John Vennari
It is contrary to defined Catholic dogma to purport "the Pope is not the bishops' ruler, he is the servant of the community." Vatican I's Paster Aeternus taught "Peter alone was honored with the true and proper primacy of jurisdiction, to the exclusion of the Apostles, be they considered individually or as a group." The same dogmatic Council called Peter the "Prince of the Apostles", a monarchial term hallowed by tradition. Regarding the monarchial structure of the Church, with the Pope as its head, Pope Saint Pius X, in his 1910 Letter Ex quo condemned the erroneous opinion that the Catholic Church has not been a monarchy from its inception.
The Blessed Mother Herself also confirms the Pope as the bishops' ruler. In May 1930, at Tuy, Our Lady of Fatima told Sister Lucy: "The moment has come in which God asks the Holy Father to make and to order that in union with him and at the same time, all the bishops of the world make the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart" promising to convert it by this means. (Emphasis added)
Perhaps this is the reason why the consecration of Russia is not accomplished. Those in the Church's highest places have apparently abandoned belief that the Pope has the right to "rule the bishops" by ordering the Collegial Consecration.
Thus the great irony, the collegial consecration is thwarted by Vatican II's collegiality.