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Os Justi Press

Unresolved Tensions in Papal-Episcopal Relations

Unresolved Tensions in Papal-Episcopal Relations

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The forcible removal of Bishop Joseph E. Strickland from his episcopal see of Tyler, Texas on November 11, 2023 was greeted around the world with a firestorm of protest. Having first been asked to resign and refusing to do so, “America’s bishop” was summarily deposed by Pope Francis, for unspecified reasons and accompanied by no canonical process.

This irregular action—far from the only one of its kind in recent years—inevitably raises questions about how a bishop may or should respond to such an egregious abuse of papal power. The autocratic regime of Pope Francis has rekindled centuries-old debates on the nature and limits of a pope’s authority over his brother bishops in the apostolic college and his solemn obligations to them as the servant of the servants of God.

Some theologians maintain that a pope, though he calls certain men to undertake the episcopal burden, must respect the office of the successors of the apostles whom Christ the Lord constitutes true shepherds in the Church; he exercises a power of jurisdiction that is 
supreme but not originative or exclusive. Others claim that a pope has an all but unlimited authority to appoint, control, and dismiss bishops as he pleases: he holds the totality of jurisdictional power in himself, with all episcopal jurisdiction deriving immediately and personally from him. Each of these views has its notable defenders; even popes and councils seem to express divergent positions. Much depends on which one of these views is true—and which prevails in the long run.

An anthology of the best new writing on these controversial topics, 
Unresolved Tensions offers its readers an illuminating perspective on historic events and a keen analysis of current ecclesiological realities.

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