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When he established His Church, Jesus placed the Apostles in charge of caring for the faithful, of teaching them the faith and caring for their souls. And He placed Peter at the head of the Apostles. Through Apostolic Succession, that same hierarchy willed by Jesus, exists today in the Church with the Pope (the successor of St Peter) at her head, leading the Bishops (the successors of the Apostles) who themselves lead the faithful in their local Churches.
At the head of the College of Bishops and called to lead the whole Church of Christ is the Successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, the Holy Roman Pontiff, the Pope. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ on Earth(As the original notion a vicar is of "earthly
representative of God or Christ" but also used in sense of "person acting as parish priest in place of a real parson"). He stands in Christ's place, on Christ's behalf, to shepherd
Christ's flock. Lumen Gentium states: "[T]he Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered."
The College of Bishops
Successors of the Apostles, the Bishops of the particular Churches throughout the world form the College of Bishops. Individual bishops have charge of a particular diocese. Together as a group the Bishops may exercise power over the Universal Church by coming together in an ecumenical council (such as Vatican II). However, even ecumenical council's must be recognised and agreed to by the Successor of Peter to be valid. To the extent that the College of Bishops is not united with its head, the Pope, then it has no authority at all.
being immersed in the world. every country or region now also has an Episcopal Conference (eg. they in particular ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not only of belonging to the Church. However. and of the bishops in communion with him. It is he who must teach them and shepherd them. the general law in the Code of Canon Law is that Catholics must do penance on Fridays by abstaining from eating meat. Therefore. the common Head." The College of Cardinals Although not forming part of the official hierarchy of the Church. the community of the faithful on earth under the leadership of the Pope. are called in a special way to bring Christ to the world. They are the Church. The laity. the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in the United States. Episcopal Conferences (National Conferences of Bishops) The individual Bishop has the primary duty of caring for the faithful in his diocese. for them the Church is the animating principle of human society. the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. The primary role of the College of Cardinals is to act as special advisors to the Pope and to come together on the death of a Pope to vote for his successor. that is to say. but it allows the Episcopal Conference for each region to substitute a different penance if they choose (which most appear to have done). certain bishops are granted special status and position within the Church by being elevated to the College of Cardinals. . but of being the Church.The Laity The lay faithful are those baptised faithful not called by God to ordained ministry within the Church.ques de France). Pope Pius XII said: "Lay believers are the front line of Church life. The new Code of Canon Law reserves certain disciplinary decisions to the Episcopal Conference for a region. For example. the Conférence des Evêon.
It was the Synod of Bishops meeting on the Family that led to the Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio on the Role of the Family in the Modern World. With that perspective. the Synod really is only an advisory body and the final decision (and teaching) remains with the Holy Father. It was considered that the Pope. although theoretically still in charge. But. These Special Assemblies are a special preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2000. And even Ecumenical Councils are ultimately subject to the authority of the Holy Father. It is largely a creature of the Second Vatican Council and many considered it to be a continuation of the Council: the Bishops coming to Rome to consider important issues and develop Church teaching. Only Bishops together in a General Ecumenical Council have the power to teach as a College (like the Second Vatican Council). They have no authority to teach in and of themselves. Many considered that the Synod of Bishops was an expression of the collegiality of Bishops. It is an advisory body to the Pope that meets in Rome on set occasions. a move towards the democratization of the Church and the decentralization and diminution of Papal power. In the sense that it is to assist the Holy Father to understand the needs of the Church throuhgout the world. (Available in theBookstore) The Synod of Bishops The Synod of Bishops is a formal body within the Church.The Episcopal Conferences are not part of the Magisterium of the Church. Their interpretations of doctrine and pronouncements on them are only binding insofar as your own bishop has lent his name to the interpretation or pronouncement. . would not act contrary to the Synod of Bishops. the Synod of Bishops has proved to be a toothless tiger. the Synod has proved to be valuable. the recent Special Assembly for the Americas in December 1997 and next year will be the Special Assembly for Oceania). and Pope John Paul II certainly holds it in high esteem. More recently. Cardinal Ratzinger has some interesting things to say about the danger of Episcopal Conferences and their ability to stifle the voices of good bishops in The Ratzinger Report. there have been a number of Special Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops from various regions of the World (the Special Assembly for Africa in 1995.
true God and true man. Constantinople II 553 AD Pronounced against certain persons as infected with Nestorianism. by defining that Christ is one divine Person with two distinct natures. also called Eutychianism. monks and friars. 4. Chalcedon 451 AD Condemned Monophysitism. Constantinople IV 869-870 AD Condemned Photius as Patriarch of Constantinople. defined that the Son of God is consubstantial with the Father. 2. These faithful profess the "evangelical counsels" of charity. Constantinople I 381 AD Condemned the Macedonians (who denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit). one divine and one human.´ 1. hermits. Jn 16:14 ³[The Holy Spirit] will « take what is mine and declare it to you. also called a General Council. one divine and one human. 8.Brothers and Nuns Although not part of the ordained hierarchy. chastity. This may take many forms. 3. 6. Each articulated some important truth that Christ wished us to have. including nuns (consecrated virgins). one divine and one human. Nicaea II 787AD Condemned the Iconoclasts (image-breakers) and defined that sacred images may be honored without committing idolatry. poverty and obedience under permanent vows as their state of life. and defended Mary¶s right to be calledtheotokos. 7. Theodoret of Cyrrhus. 5. is a collaboration of all the bishops in the world in union with the Vicar of Christ. During the two thousand years of Church history there have been 21 Ecumenical Councils. confirmed and extended the Nicene Creed. the Mother of God. including Theodore of Mopsuestia. Constantinople III 680-681 AD Defined against the Monothelites that Christ has two wills. Ephesus 431 AD Condemned Nestorianism. there also exists within the Church those who are called to live a life consecrated to God. An Ecumenical Council. which held that Jesus of Nazareth was two distinct persons. Nicaea I 325 AD Condemned Arianism. and Ibas of Edessa. wrote the Nicene Creed. These faithful live in community with each other according to the rules established for the community and approved by Rome. .
ordered annual Confession and Easter Communion as precepts of the Church. 12. Constance 1414-1418 Issued reform decrees in ³head and members. Beghards. Decreed that papal elections should begin ten days after the death of a Pope. Also tried to arrange a reunion of the Eastern Churches separated from Rome. defined the relation of the human soul and body. indulgences. and called for a Crusade against the Turks. 10. Lyons II 1274 Set up a temporary reunion of the Eastern Churches with Rome. who said that a General Council was superior to a Pope. and fideism.´ condemned Wyclif and Hus. Vienne 1311-1312 Suppressed the Knights Templar. approved use of the word transubstantiation. and papal infallibility. condemned philosophers who taught that the human soul is mortal and only one for all mankind. and put an end to the Western Schism. 16. Vatican I 1869-1870 Defined the nature of revelation and faith. Endorsed the Concordat of Worms regarding the investiture of prelates. the sacraments. Trent also decreed decrees on marriage and clerical reform. Lateran V 1512-1517 Defined the relation of a Pope to a General Council. Lateran I 1123 This first general Council in the West. invocation of saints. Lateran II 1139 Opposed the schism of antipope Anacletus II and issued disciplinary decrees. materialism. Lateran III 1179 Legislated against the Waldenses and Albigensians and decreed papal elections by two-thirds majority of cardinals present in a conclave. Lyons I 1245 Condemned Frederick II for his persecution of the Church. 20. 18.9. Dulcinists. Trent 1545-1563 Met the crisis of the Protestant Reformation by defining the Catholic Canon of Sacred Scripture as authoritative for the whole Church. 17. 19. 11. . sought aid for the Holy Land. naturalism. the rule of faith as Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. 14. justification. 13. and veneration of sacred images. and condemned the false mysticism of the Fraticelli. the Missal of Pope Pius V (Tridentine Mass). deism. the relation of faith and reason. Florence 1438-1445 Affirmed papal primacy against the Conciliarists. and Beguines. purgatory. Condemned pantheism. Lateran IV 1215 Issued reform decrees. 15.
Vatican II 1962-1965 Reaffirmed the principles of Catholic faith and morality. and authorized many developments in the Eucharistic Liturgy. . Also authorized changes in the Church¶s administrative structure. including the Missal of Pope Paul VI (Novus Ordo Mass).21.
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