Council Approves Teaching on Collegiality of Bishops With the Pope as Their Head

85th General Congregation
September 22, 1964

By an overwhelming majority the Second Vatican Council voted to approve the teaching that all Catholic bishops today are successors of the apostles by divine institution and that they, with the pope as their head, make up a college like that which was formed by St. Peter and the apostles.

Thus at the 85th general meeting of the Second Vatican Council, the work of the First Vatican Council, begun almost 100 years ago, has been advanced significantly. The First Vatican Council defined the infallibility of the pope but was adjourned before the precise relation of the bishops among themselves and to the pope was worked out.

At the same time, while affirming the divine origin of the episcopate and of its intimate union with the pope in the College of Bishops, the council Fathers also affirmed by vote that the College of Bishops has no authority except with the Roman pontiff, the successor of St. Peter, as its head. It affirmed that his power of primacy over all, both bishops and faithful, remains intact.

During the Sept. 22 meeting eight votes were taken and eight passed with tremendous majorities. These votes approved the changes in the third chapter of the schema on the nature of the Church dealing specifically with the place of the bishops within the Church and their relations to each other and to the pope.

The voting at the 85th session brought to 12 the number of amendments to the project that have been approved. In all there are 39 amendments to be voted on. Among the remaining ones, the most significant is the one which states that the College of Bishops together with the pope and never without him have full teaching and ruling power over the universal Church.

The amendments and votes cast Sept. 22 — the totals of which are greater than the individual tallies because they do not include the “yes” votes with reservations, which are not supposed to be made on amendments — are as follows:

Fifth amendment — That bishops are the successors of the apostles by divine institution. Total votes, 2,448; “yes,” 2,198; “no,” 50; null ballots, 0.

Sixth amendment — That the episcopacy is a sacrament. Total votes, 2,246; “yes,” 2,201; “no,” 44; null ballots, 1.

Seventh amendment — That the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred through episcopal consecration. Total votes, 2,240; “yes,” 2,117; “no,” 123; null ballots, 0.

Eighth amendment — That episcopal consecration, together with the duty of sanctifying, also confers the powers of teaching and ruling, which by their nature can be exercised only in union with the head of the college and other bishops. Total votes, 2,247; “yes,” 1,917; “no,” 328; null ballots, 1.

Ninth amendment — That only bishops through conferring Holy Orders may assume new members into the episcopal body. Total votes, 2,243; “yes,” 2,085; “no,” 156; null ballots, 0.

Tenth amendment — That just as Christ willed that St. Peter and the other apostles made up one apostolic college, in the same way the Roman pontiff and the bishops as successors of St. Peter and the other apostles are joined together. Total votes, 2,243; “yes,” 1,918; “no,” 322; null ballots, 2.

Eleventh amendment — That a person is raised to the episcopacy by virtue of consecration by members of the college and with communion with the Roman pontiff. Total votes, 2,213; “yes,” 1,898; “no,” 313; null ballots, 1.

Twelfth amendment — That the College of Bishops has no authority except with the Roman pontiff, the successor of St. Peter, as its head, and that his power of primacy over all, both bishops and faithful, remains intact. Total votes, 2,205; “yes,” 2,114; “no,” 90; null ballots, 0.

In addition to the votes taken on Sept. 22, the results of two votes taken Sept. 21 on amendments three and four were announced. They were:

Third amendment — That the mission of the bishops endures until the end of time. Total votes, 2,211; “yes,” 2,103; “no,” 106; null ballots, 1.

Fourth amendment — That the mission of the apostles is the mission of the bishops as that of St. Peter is that of the popes. Total votes, 2,207; “yes,” 2,091; “no,” 115; null ballots, 1.

The council session opened with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Maurice Roy of Quebec. The Gospel was enthroned by Coadjutor Bishop Geraldo Pellanda of Ponta Grossa, Brazil. Eighteen bishops spoke, including six Frenchmen. Debate continued on the schema on the pastoral duties of bishops.

It was announced that debate was to begin Sept. 23 on the declaration on religious liberty, although one more speaker was still scheduled to discuss the schema on bishops.

In general, the day’s debate dealt with relations between priests and bishops and called for the use by bishops of more scientific sociological knowledge to meet the great changes of modern times, and for greater cooperation and understanding between bishops and Religious working in their dioceses.

Bishop Louis Guyot of Coutances, France, opened the session, speaking in part for all the bishops of France. In the name of the French bishops, he called for a reorganization of all texts dealing with priests and the priesthood. He said that at present references are scattered through several projects and propositions and that there is a lack of organization which does not make it easy to have a theological vision of the role of the priest.

Then speaking for himself alone, Bishop Guyot made a plea for closer relations between bishops and their priests. He asked for a pastoral dialogue and stated that bishops should not have just personal contacts with priests but that teamwork is vital. The day’s moderator, Julius Cardinal Doepfner of Munich and Freising, Germany, informed him that his time was up.

Bishop Alexandre Renard of Versailles, France, stressed essentially the same idea as Bishop Guyot, saying that bishops and priests need each other and that a bishop should not be only an administrator to his priests.

Bishop Richard Guilly, S.J., of Georgetown, British Guiana, spoke in the name of 17 council Fathers. He criticized the schema for considering relations between bishops and Religious only in terms of the individual diocese. He stated that Religious should be at the disposition of the pope and that it would be well not to strike too deeply at the exemption of Religious from diocesan authority lest they not be available to the pope.

Archbishop Joseph Urtasun of Avignon, France, called for collaboration between bishops and Religious, saying they should form a single family. Teamwork was called for again, and the Archbishop stressed particularly the need for it in terms of interparish activities.

Bishop Pablo Barrachina Estevan of Orihuela-Alicante, Spain, said it is basic from a pastoral viewpoint that the diocese be looked on as a model or miniature of the universal Church. He warned that bishops should not favor some priests more than others because of the income which comes with the individual’s assignment. To do away with this problem he recommended that bishops take steps to reduce differences and inequalities.

Archbishop Emile Guerry of Cambrai, France, urged that more stress be put on the bishops’ duty of didactic preaching. He said that the modern world calls bishops to a new form of preaching because they are called on to appear in civil life and should be heard on civil and social problems. Bishops need to be aware of the social problems of the day and need the explicit knowledge of the social order they can gain from laymen, he said.

Archbishop Guerry admitted that this would take courage and humility and the gift of clarity.

Bishop Jean Sauvage of Annecy, France, said he felt the schema talked too much of the relation of priests to bishops and that it should also stress that of bishops to priests and the bond of unity which should exist between them.

Archbishop Eugene D’Souza of Bhopal, India, echoed the call for cooperation between bishops and Religious. Saying that in some cases Religious fear falling under a diocesan dictatorship, he warned that there must be give and take on both sides.

Religious should not push their privileges, he said. To safeguard their interests he suggested they be given a place on national episcopal conferences or that a mixed commission of bishops and Religious be set up.

Lastly he warned against what St. John Chrysostom called “those icy words — yours and mine.”

Another Frenchman, Auxiliary Bishop Marius Maziers of Lyons, deplored the lack of a pastoral tone in the schema and called for emphasis to be placed on poverty, simplicity, humility and the need for being near the people.

A similar note was sounded by Coadjutor Bishop Herbert Bednorz of Katowice, Poland, who wanted stress to be placed on the care of souls. He emphasized the need for a missionary spirit and said that a pastor must serve everyone, not just Catholics. He recommended a common life for all engaged in apostolic work.

Archbishop Miguel Miranda y Gomez of Mexico City devoted his talk to a plea to include material on vocations. Talking of the vocation crisis in Latin America, he urged cooperation of bishops and Religious in securing vocations.

Listen as well as speak: That was the advice of Bishop Juan Iriate of Reconquista, Argentina. Saying that since there had been a change in types of bishops from feudal times to the period after the Council of Trent, so too a change is now needed from the post-Trent era to today and bishops must convince rather than dominate. Cardinal Doepfner intervened to call him to matters under discussion.

Bishop Wilhelm Pluta for Gorzow, Poland, was another to deplore the lack of a strong pastoral tone in the schema. He asked the council Fathers to issue a declaration to correct the lack of concern for pastoral theology.

Three bishops devoted their remarks to the need for bishops to use sociological studies and other scientific means of getting to know the needs and problems of their people.

Bishops Leonidas Proano Villalba of Riobamba, Ecuador; Samuele Ruiz Garcia of Chiapas, Mexico, and Charles-Marie Himmer of Tournai, Belgium, all stressed the fact that a bishop cannot know his people individually today, but that he must know about them. To do this he should use the instruments which science, and particularly sociology, give to him.

An Eastern-rite prelate took issue with the schema because, he said, he felt it was wholly directed to dioceses of the Latin rite. Maronite-rite Archbishop Ignace Ziade of Beirut, Lebanon, called for revision of the schema so that it will apply also to the Eastern-rite areas. In particular he called for abolition of multiple-rite dioceses with a mixture of rites and jurisdictions. He pointed out that the Holy See was careful not to appoint two men to the same titular See and asked why the same concern could not be shown toward living Sees.

Bishop Agostinho Lopes De Moura, C.S.Sp., of Portalegre-Castelo Branco, Portugal, suggested various technical changes.

He was followed by Archbishop Antoni Baraniak of Poznan, Poland, who read a statement of Polish Archbishop Jozef Gawlina, who had died the day before.

The last major concern of Archbishop Gawlina’s life was the immigrants and refugees he had worked for for so many years. His statement deplored the fact that the 58 articles dealing with immigration contained in the original draft had been omitted in the new one. He called for their restoration or at least reinsertion of the context of the articles.

James C. O’Neill
NCWC News Rome Correspondent

*          *          *          *

At a discussion of the U.S. bishops’ press panel it was agreed that the most important vote on the issue of the collegiality of bishops was the one which affirms that a college of bishops exists today in the same way as an apostolic college.

On Sept. 21 and 22, votes on 10 amendments to the chapter on the schema on the nature of the Church which deals with collegiality were taken. All favored the idea by a large majority.

Father Francis J. McCool, S.J., of the New York Jesuit province, an expert on Biblical studies, noted at the panel that with this act a new emphasis has been introduced. The First Vatican Council concentrated on the primacy of the pope and was adjourned before it could consider the relation of this primacy with the bishops. Theologians, therefore, gave more emphasis to papal primacy.

Now the emphasis is on the whole structure of the Church and its primacy.

Father George Tavard of Pittsburgh, theology expert, said that for Protestant churches it is important that the Church, in explaining the primacy of the pope, is now pointing out that this is not the only way authority is exercised in the Church. It shows the Church in a different light, he said.

It shows it not as the authority of one man, but as the authority of the Church exercised in two ways, by the pope and by the college of bishops, and that the two cannot be isolated from each other. This will orient conversation between Catholics and Protestants, Father Tavard said.

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One Response to Council Approves Teaching on Collegiality of Bishops With the Pope as Their Head

  1. bema says:

    Reblogged this on Bengts Blogg and commented:
    Under Andra Vatikankonciliet, för 50 år sedan i i september 1964 diskuterade de samlade biskoparna det viktiga dokumentet om Kyrkan, Lumen gentium. En viktigt punkt var biskoparnas kollegialitet. Med överväldigande majoritet fastslog biskoparna läran att biskoparna genom gudomligt instiftande är efterträdare till apostlarna och att de idag, med biskopen av Rom som överhuvud utgör ett kollegium på samma sätt som de första apostlarna samlade kring Petrus. Detta balanserade den kraftiga betoningen från Första Vatikankonciliet på påven ensam som makthavare. (Kollegialiteten är idag mycket viktig, som en följd av detta introducerades biskopssynoderna, en extraordinär sådan börjar i Rom i morgon som skall avhandla äktenskap och familj). Läs mera i denna blogg som är en jubileumsblogg, Andra Vatikankonciliet 50 år.

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