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Orders and Jurisdiction (Tue Mar 1, 2005 11:04 am)

The Power of Orders and Jurisdiction

The Catholic Church distinguishes between two types of authority -- the power of orders, and the power of jurisdiction. Orders confer the power to bless, consecrate, forgive, and ordain. Distinct and separate is the power of jurisdiction, which is the authority to govern a territory (parish or
diocese, etc.) or group (military, Opus Dei, etc.). Once conferred, the power of orders can only be restricted, but not be taken away ("once a priest, always a priest"), whereas the power of jurisdiction need not be permanent.

The Church claims the power of universal jurisdiction. The Pope owns and controls everything and delegates power down through cardinals, bishops, superiors, and pastors.

While the Church teaches that Jesus conferred spiritual power (orders) on his followers, it is questionable that he bestowed upon them the power to rule over money, property, and people (jurisdiction). In the past, monarchs, like the Church hierarchy, claimed that their jurisdiction came
from God, leading to the concept of the Divine Right of Kings, which has long been rejected, except by the Church which still clings to the wealth and power it brings. In Western civilization, it has been universally accepted for centuries that the right to govern requires the consent of those governed. We have come to understand that forced governance is called totalitarianism, dictatorship, and despotism. Absolute monarchy is another form of coercive governance.

ARCC supports the rights of Catholics to accept or reject dictated jurisdictional appointments and encourages Catholics vigorously to support efforts to reinstate their right to be consulted in the exercise of jurisdictional power in the Church. A voice and vote on who holds office in the Church along with term limits are two critical areas of desperately needed church reform if the Sensus Fidelium is to be honored and trust restored.

For the most part, priests and bishops do not question their traditional "right" to reign over their parish or diocese, without realizing it is the people of the Church who enable them to have anything or anyone to rule. How can we raise their consciousness?

Might we not ask our pastors and bishops:

1. Do they honor their commitment to consult with and be accountable to their people?
2. Is Canon Law written with a forked pen (especially cc 1256 and 1267 #3)?
3. Do they seek the consent of their people to govern their money and property?
4. Have they asked their people for a performance evaluation or considered a vote of confidence?
5. Is it morally justifiable to use the power of orders to gain and exercise jurisdiction over wealth and property?

You are the Church! You have a right to the answers!

Other voices

Another Voice

Questions From a Ewe

Challenges Facing Catholicism
(Bishop Geoffrey Robinson in converation with Dr Ingrid Shafer)

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