From our piece, 50 petition pope for Vatican II re-examination, we offer this extract concerning the post-conciliar error of collegiality.
9) What is the exact significance of the new notion of collegiality? In light of the constant teaching of the Church, what are we to think of the interpretation in the Nota explicativa praevia, the “preliminary explanatory note” placed at the start of Lumen gentium (a note that was put there to nullify the debate among the Council Fathers)? We cite the doubts clearly presented by Romano Amerio:
The ‘preliminary note’ (Nota praevia) rejects the classic interpretation of collegiality, according to which the subject of supreme power in the Church is the pope alone, who shares it when he wants with the totality of the bishops convened in council by him. The supreme power becomes collegial only when communicated by the pope, at his pleasure (ad nutum).
The ‘preliminary note’ likewise rejects the opinion of the innovators, according to which the subject of supreme power in the Church is the episcopal college united to the pope and not without the pope, who is the head of it, but in such fashion that when the pope exercises the supreme power, even by himself, he does so precisely as the head of said college, and therefore as a representative of this college, which he is obliged to consult so as to express their judgment. This is a theory modeled on the one that claims that all authority owes its power to the multitude: a theory that is difficult to reconcile with the divine constitution of the Church (which is hierarchical and of divine, not popular, origin).
In refuting these two theories, the Nota praevia insists that the supreme power belongs to the college of bishops united to their head, but that the head can exercise it independently of the college, whereas the college cannot exercise it independently of the head (and this is supposedly a concession to Tradition).”
Is it accurate to maintain that assigning juridical powers—those of a real college, properly speaking—to the institution of Bishops’ Conferences has in fact depreciated and distorted the role of the bishop? Indeed, in the Church today the bishops, taken individually, seem not to matter at all, practically speaking (Your Holiness will forgive our frankness). On this point, here is Amerio again:
The novelty that has stood out most in the post-conciliar Church is the opportunity now for participation [in decision-making] by all Church authorities that are juridically defined organs, such as diocesan and national Synods, parish and presbyteral Councils, etc…. The establishment of Episcopal Conferences has produced two effects: it has deformed the organic structure of the Church, and it has resulted in the loss of authority by the [individual] bishops. According to the canon law in force before the Council, the bishops are successors of the Apostles, and each one governs in his diocese with ordinary power in spiritual and temporal matters, exercising there a legislative, judiciary and executive power (canons 329 and 335). This authority was precise, individual, and except for the institution of the vicar general, not capable of being delegated (whereas the vicar general depended on the willingness of the bishop—ad nutum)….
The decree Christus Dominus attributes collegiality to the body of bishops in virtue of its “supreme, full power over the universal Church”, which would be in all respects equal to that of the pope if it could be exercised without his consent. This supreme power has always been acknowledged in the case of the assembly of bishops convened in an ecumenical council by the pope. But the question arises, whether an authority that can be put into effect only by a superior authority can be considered supreme and does not amount to a purely virtual object, a thing existing only in the mind (ens rationis). Now according to the spirit of Vatican II, the exercise of episcopal authority in which collegiality is actualized is that of the Bishops’ Conferences.
Here is an oddity: the decree (in section 37) finds the reason for the existence of this new institution in the need for the bishops of a country to take concerted action; it does not see this new tie of cooperation, which henceforth has a juridical configuration, as a change in the structure of the Church that would replace a bishop with a body of bishops and personal responsibility with a collective responsibility that is therefore fragmented…. By the institution of bishops’ conferences the Church has become a multi-centered body….
The first consequence of this new organization is therefore the loosening of the tie of unity [with the pope]; this has been manifested by enormous dissensions on the most serious points [for example on the teaching of the encyclical Humanae vitae dated July 25, 1968, which prohibited the use of contraceptives]. The second consequence of the new organization is the loss of the authority of each bishop considered separately as such. They are no longer responsible to their own people nor to the Holy See, because their personal responsibility has been replaced by a collegial responsibility which, belonging to the whole body, can no longer be imputed to the different elements making up that body.”