Point 38. The diocesan Church
1. Under the Pope’s authority, which is sovereign, universal, and immediate, and must be recognised by the whole church, each region of the earth is entrusted to a bishop, a successor of one of the twelve Apostles, who will govern a diocese, which is that territorial portion entrusted to him by the Bishop of bishops. It is the Pope who gives the bishop jurisdiction over a particular portion of the flock, and it is only in communion with the Pope that he can exercise this jurisdiction legitimately. For this reason and on this condition only, the Phalangist will recognise his bishop as representing Jesus Christ, will honour his authority and appeal to his spiritual powers as a direct successor of the Apostles.
The local Church keeps the Christian spiritual life and activity on a human scale; she is entirely dependent on the bishop’s authority, but also on his personal devotion. The Phalangist will remind himself of this, so that he may love his bishop and – whether it be in trust or even in the most painful confrontations – help him preserve the diocesan Church’s holy vitality, her faith, her law and her charity, in devotion to her traditions.
2. On the other hand, the Phalangist will suspect and distrust all collegial, bureaucratic and parliamentary organisations that encroach on the personal authority of the bishop, which they seek to discredit and make irrelevant. They do this either from above, in the form of episcopal conferences and commissions, or from below, in the form of delegations of priests or militants, or on the same level, such as the centres of Catholic Action movements. These parasitic organisations claim a consultative power that allows them to dominate popular opinion, and a deliberative power – always usurped – that lets them wield the bishop’s authority. These anonymous, irresponsible oligarchies are known to be fundamentally revolutionary; every heresy and schism finds its shelter and support amongst them.
The Phalangist will stay outside all these organisations, unwilling to know any but the traditional and legitimate organs, the Episcopal Council, the diocesan, regional or general Synods, and the General Councils.
3. The dioceses with their sovereign bishops, doctors, pastors and leaders of the flock are, by divine institution, the great living reality of the Church, whose fortunes and misfortunes have made the glory or the wretchedness of the Christian peoples. That is not to say that the procedures for designating bishops should not be studied or renewed in the light of tradition. For election is preferable to appointment by temporal powers, and nomination by Rome is safer than collegial co-optation, which today is the scourge of our oligarchic and liberal episcopates.
In any case, as events today show, the local Churches would not be able to survive for long were the Roman Church not to exercise her supreme power over them with vigilance and exactitude.