Wednesday, June 20, 2007

CCCB and the Principle of Subsidiarity

I swear, I'll stop posting at some point today!!

I am reading for Tertio Millennio right now and am reading an excellent article about the Church and its change in its stance towards Democracy over the past 150 years.

At this moment in time, I'm reading about the definition of the Principle of Subsidiarity. It is something I have pondered for a bit, and am looking for feedback.

Essentially, my question is: "Does the CCCB (Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, or any conference of Catholic Bishops) defy the Principle of Subsidiarity?"

For those who don't know, essentially, the Principle of Subsidiarity is that whatever the individual can do within its community, one ought to let that individual do it. Larger organizations are only necessary when the smaller organizations (down to the organization of the one person) cannot do it themselves. For example, our Government runs the military because it is something we cannot run on an individual basis.

But this has got me wondering about the Conferences of Catholic Bishops. Essentially, the way a Bishop runs his Diocese is susceptible to the democratic (I use the term loosely here) functions of the CCCB.

This seems to circumvent the role of the Bishop, as the head of his local Church.

For example, the local Bishop is required to have the same lectionary as the rest of the Bishops in Canada. But what if the local Bishop wants a better translation (trust me, anything is better then the current one...needless to say "Catchers of People" makes me want to vomit!)? It seems that it is something he is capable of doing himself, why must he be subject to a larger bureaucracy if he is able to do so himself?

I would be interested in feedback, but it really seems to me that the Conferences of Catholic Bishops essentially are not serving the purpose they were created for. To my knowledge, the conferences were essentially created for the purpose of creating a sense of collegiality and unity (that is, fulfilling the principle of solidarity within the community of Bishops) and of creating one voice. Yet it is obvious that this is not happening, but instead has become a bureaucratic body in which the Conference makes all the decisions for the local Bishop. This seems to contradict the Principle of Subsidiarity, an essential tool in Catholic Social Thought.

I can see one objection already. "The Principle of Subsidiarity is to be applied to social circumstances only, and is not applicable to the Church". To my knowledge, however, that has never been formally defined as part of the principle.

So, I am interested to hear your feedback.


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