The Pastoral Office, Chapter One
By Henry Cardinal Manning
(All emphasis within these quotes is the editor’s.)
THE EPISCOPATE: ITS JURISDICTION AND PERFECTION
In the following pages we will examine what is the teaching of the Church on the Episcopate, and what has been written by authors who are held in veneration in Rome. The subject matter will, therefore, include (1) what is of Divine faith respecting the Episcopate, and (2) what theological opinions may be safely held concerning it.
To do this more surely, I shall, first, do little else than transcribe the text of authors whose works, after due examination by censors, are printed in Rome, and are placed in the hands of students at the Roman Seminary. In following such authorities there can be no danger of error. Novelties, and opinions merely probable, or permissible, or tenable, citra censuram, are unsafe, (emph. the editor’s throughout). In theology the mid-stream is the surest waterway and has the best anchorage. Such accredited authors exhibit not only what theological opinions may be held, but they show what is actually taught and learned by the clergy under the eye of the Holy See.
I shall therefore refrain from quoting from the early Christian Fathers until the doctrine of faith and the present mind of the Church shall have been ascertained. We shall then have the mature result and enunciation of the Divine tradition. This will fix the true sense of the Fathers, and ought to preclude all conflict of interpreters and of interpretations.
1. The first authority I will take shall be the work of Peter Ballerini, De Potestate Ecclesiastica Summorum Pontificum, written to refute the errors of Febronius, and reprinted in Rome at the Propaganda Press in 1850.
(1) His first proposition is as follows: “The ecclesiastical jurisdiction was given by Christ immediately to Peter and the Apostles, and cannot be said to be given immediately to the Church, as if Peter and the Apostles received it from the Church merely as ministers of the same.” He then adds that this power was given when our Lord gave to them, with the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the power of binding and loosing — “quae potestas idem est ac jurisdictio” — which power is one and the same with jurisdiction; and therefore, in its origin, it is juris divini — of Divine right.”
The power of binding and loosing and the power of jurisdiction are one and the same. It is the judicial power over souls. And this is in itself a Divine power, for “Who can forgive sins but God only?” Therefore both in its nature and in its origin it is Divine.
(2) His second proposition is: “The ecclesiastical jurisdiction, given immediately to Peter and the Apostles for the welfare of the Church, was not intended to die with Peter and the Apostles, but to pass onward to the successors of Peter and of the Apostles, and to reside immediately in them, and to continue until the consummation of the world; as also the Church is intended to continue until the consummation of the world, for government of which this jurisdiction was instituted by Christ.”
In this proposition it is asserted that the jurisdiction of Peter and of the Apostles resides forever in their successors — that is, in the Roman Pontiff and in the Episcopate; and that this jurisdiction was instituted in the Roman Pontiff and the Episcopate for the government (regimen) of the Church. The Roman Pontiff alone is, in strict sense, the successor of an Apostle, that is, as a person to a person. The Episcopate is collectively the successor of the Apostolate, as a whole succeeding to a whole. “Thus, the same power, or ecclesiastical jurisdiction, by the institution of Christ, continued in the successors of Peter and the Apostles, has come down to the Roman Pontiffs who succeed S. Peter, and to others whom the Apostles constituted as Bishops, and who are the successors of the Apostles; and therefore it belongs to them by the same Divine right, and it resides immediately in the same who constitute the body of chief pastors, as it resided in S. Peter and the Apostles.”
(3) The third proposition distinguishes the primacy of Peter from the jurisdiction common to Peter and the Apostles. “The jurisdiction proper to S. Peter, by reason of his primacy, was in him singular and personal, so that he presided over the other Apostles, who were otherwise equal in power, not by a prerogative of mere order or honour, but of a peculiar right of power over them for the sake of unity; and this right over them he had not only over them one by one (severally), but also as a body, for the preserving of unity. The very same right belongs in like manner to the Roman Pontiffs, the successors of S. Peter, on whom the same primacy, for the same custody of unity, by right of succession devolves.”
The primacy of Peter consists in a twofold plenitude given to him first, and alone — namely, a plenitude of jurisdiction over the whole flock, pastors and people; and a plenitude of Divine assistance, preserving him from error in his office as Universal Teacher of the Church.
Peter and his successors possess this twofold plenitude independently of the Apostles and their successors, and can exercise this supreme office alone; but the Apostles could not, and their successors cannot, exercise their office without Peter and his successors.
The third proposition, then, affirms that all the Apostles were equal in power (omnes potestate pares), excepting only the proper and personal right of the primacy. This primacy was exclusively in S. Peter alone, and in no way common to the other Apostles; and it was instituted by Christ as the means of forming and perpetually preserving the unity of the whole Church. “By this right S. Peter had pre-eminence even over all the Apostles by reason of the primacy, so that, although they were equal with Peter in the other powers of the Apostolate, in the right of enforcing unity they were subject to Peter.”
(4) The fourth proposition defines the powers of the Episcopate:
The powers of the Apostles did not altogether pass to the Bishops, the successors of the Apostles. For the jurisdiction over the whole Church, which, in the beginning, belonged to the Apostles, was extraordinary, and did not pass to the Bishops, their successors. In Peter alone that power was ordinary, by reason of the primacy; and therefore the inheritance of the primacy belongs to the Roman Pontiffs alone by ordinary right. To no Bishop, save to the successors of S. Peter, does the jurisdiction over other Bishops belong by Divine institution; but by a right which is ecclesiastical only. This jurisdiction has been entrusted to the Bishops of the chief sees, so that all, with the successors of Peter, conspire together for the good of unity; and this ecclesiastical institution cannot in anything prejudice the jurisdiction of S. Peter and his successors, which is of Divine institution.’ Having thus far explained the radical and essential jurisdiction of the primacy of the Roman Pontiffs, the successors of S. Peter, Ballerini goes on further to define the jurisdiction of the Bishops who succeed to the Apostles.
The Apostles had jurisdiction over the whole world, for as much as they were all alike sent by Christ into the whole world to preach the Gospel to every creature. “But when the Apostles constituted Bishops in certain places, that they might give to those places their care and labour, it was expedient that they should be bound to those same places: their jurisdiction did not reach to the whole world, as that of the Apostles, but was circumscribed within certain boundaries for the good of the Church.”
“Hence the jurisdiction of the Apostles over the whole Church was, in a manner, extraordinary, and does not descend to the Bishops, their successors. . . But this (jurisdiction over the whole Church) in Peter was ordinary, and passes with the primacy to the Roman Pontiffs, the heirs of the same primacy and jurisdiction.” Therefore as no Apostle, except Peter, had jurisdiction over another Apostle, so no Bishop, except the successor of Peter, has jurisdiction over another Bishop. All Primates and Metropolitans, therefore, receive their jurisdiction from merely apostolical or ecclesiastical institution.
“From what has been said,” he continues, “it is evident that the jurisdiction of Bishops and of the Supreme Pontiff is of Divine right, but so that the jurisdiction over the Bishops themselves belongs by Divine institution to the Roman Pontiff alone,” all other jurisdiction over Bishops being of ecclesiastical origin. S. Optatus says that “for the good of unity Blessed Peter was preferred before all the Apostles, and alone received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, to communicate them to the others.”
“But the power of binding and loosing, which, depending on the power of the keys, signifies ecclesiastical jurisdiction, though it was given by Christ Himself to the other Apostles, was not, however, given to any of them singly, as to S. Peter—sed in communi et collective cum Petro — but in common and collectively with Peter, who was also with the others when Christ said, ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth,’ &c., that all may understand that Bishops, the successors of the Apostles, can do nothing except in unity with Peter and with the successors of Peter.”
(5) The fifth proposition defines the subjection of the Episcopate to the primacy. “The jurisdiction of Bishops, though it be of Divine institution, is nevertheless subject to the jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiffs; so that their faculties as Bishops may, for the good of the Church, be limited or restrained by them, as to the use and exercise of the same.”
This proposition follows directly from the power of Divine right in the Roman Pontiffs over the jurisdiction of Bishop, which tametsi institutions divinae — although of Divine institution — is subject to the plenitude of Divine jurisdiction in the primacy. After quoting the words of the Council of Trent on Reservations, Ballerini adds: “In which matter there is specially to be noticed, that if there be any power given jure divino to Bishops which might seem of a kind to be left intact, it is, without doubt, the power of absolving from sin, which, it is manifest, was given without any restriction by Christ Himself to the Apostles and to Bishops the successors of Apostles. If therefore this so great and so unlimited a power, and that of Divine right, is subject to the authority of the Pontiffs, . . . what power cannot be likewise limited?”
(6) The sixth proposition distinguishes between the Divine jurisdiction of Bishops, and the use and exercise of the same. “This limitation and restriction, though it affect the faculties of Bishops, which in their origin are of Divine right, is to be referred to the matter of discipline and of ecclesiastical right.”
“It is well perhaps to explain and to confirm more clearly by another observation the plenitude of the supreme pontifical power, to which the measure and the exercise of the episcopal faculties are subject. Jurisdiction as distinct from the power of Order, if it have no subject on whom to unfold itself, is barren, and lacks all use and exercise. Hence the designation and assigning of subjects, or of a region or diocese in which the episcopal right (episcopale jus, or jurisdiction) may be exercised, is necessary for actual jurisdiction: and he who assigns to Bishops their subjects and dioceses gives also to them the use and exercise of their jurisdiction, which in its origin is of Divine institution.”
“Further, as the designation of subjects of this or of that diocese or province, which was given to Patriarchs, Exarchs, or Metropolitans, does not depend on Divine right, because Christ did not institute any partition or designation of the kind, but belongs to ecclesiastical institution; . . . so the episcopal jurisdiction, in its origin, though it is of Divine right, yet in respect to the designation of subjects and dioceses, and to the actual use of the jurisdiction itself and of episcopal faculties, is to be referred to ecclesiastical institution. And therefore nothing is thereby derogated from the Divine origin and institution of the Episcopate, because this limiting and restricting of their jurisdiction does not touch that which is of Divine origin (i.e. the jurisdiction itself), but that only which was left by Christ to the discretion and disposition of the Apostles and of their successors.”
From all these propositions the following doctrines or principles result:
1. That to Peter alone the plenitude of universal jurisdiction independent of all others was given.
2. That dependently on Peter the other Apostles received jurisdiction over all the world.
3. That to the jurisdiction of Peter the Apostles likewise were subject.
4. That Peter and the Apostles were equal as Apostles, but that Peter in virtue of the primacy was their head.
5. That to Peter and the Apostles succeed the successor of Peter and the Bishops.
6. That Peter alone has a personal succession in the Roman Pontiffs.
7. That Bishops are successors not of an Apostle one by one, but of the Apostles as a body; that is, the Episcopate succeeds the Apostolate as a whole to a whole.
8. That the jurisdiction of Peter and the Apostles is continued in the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops.
9. That this episcopal jurisdiction is Divine in its origin and essence, and inherent in the Episcopate; but its actual use is dependent on the Divine and supreme jurisdiction of the successor of Peter, who alone has power to assign subjects, to designate dioceses, and to restrict the extent and exercise of episcopal jurisdiction.
10. That there is therefore one jurisdiction of Divine origin, namely, the jurisdiction of the primacy, over all the world, i.e. universal, independent, ordinary, immediate, and episcopal, to which all, both pastors and people, are subject; and also the jurisdiction of Bishops, which is Divine in its origin and essence, but in its exercise and use dependent on the supreme jurisdiction of the successor of Peter, but nevertheless in the diocese assigned to him it is in itself ordinary, immediate and Divine.
Ballerini then excludes from his treatment of this subject certain opinions which he describes as follows:
“I have been unwilling in this place to contend about the sense in which are to be understood the testimonies of Fathers and ancient Pontiffs, by which they seem to imply that the keys were to be given to the Apostles themselves through Peter, and that the Episcopate had its origin from Peter and through Peter, and that the episcopal jurisdiction flows to others from Peter and the successors of Peter. For I am unwilling to make the opinion concerning the supreme and plenary power of the Pontiffs over Bishops to hang upon a less certain and controverted opinion. So long as the jurisdiction and authority of Bishops, which is undeniably of Divine right, is confessedly subordinate and subject to the jurisdiction of the Pontiffs in respect to the assigning of subjects, and to the exercise and limitation of episcopal faculties, as the adversaries must concede from the points established, this is enough for me, in whatsoever way its origin and propagation be explained.”
The next authority I will quote is Devoti, who was Professor of Canon Law at the Roman Seminary in 1770, an intimate friend of Gregorio Chiaramonti, afterwards Pius VII, to whom his works are dedicated, and under whose eyes they were written. In the Prolegomena to his Institutiones Canonicae, he sums up the whole subject of the Episcopate in these words: “The Universal College of Bishops, who, united with their head, represent the Universal Church, has jurisdiction over the whole world; but the jurisdiction of each Bishop singly is not extended to those nations over which no government has been committed to him. Therefore the legislation of each Bishop affects the particular diocese over which he is set, and binds the subjects who are contained in it; but beyond his own diocese, inasmuch as he has no subjects, he can have no jurisdiction. By which fact may be solved, as it seems to me, the controversy with which even the Fathers at Trent were occupied, but left still undecided, namely, whether the jurisdiction of Bishops is mediately or immediately from Christ, I am of opinion, indeed, that the jurisdiction which is attached to the Episcopate at large is immediately from Christ Himself, and the special jurisdiction which resides in each alone is mediately conferred. This, which is too briefly stated, must be somewhat more carefully explained. It is certain that Christ instituted the Episcopate, and placed in the whole College of Bishops, united with their head, the whole administrative authority of the Christian commonwealth. I here pass by whatsoever was said to Peter alone, apart from the other Apostles, and I insist only on those places in the Gospels in which authority and jurisdiction over the whole Church were given to the Apostles. But how was the power given in these places? It is always given to all the Apostles together with Peter, to no one of them separately, except to Peter alone, who first, apart from the other Apostles, afterwards together with them, received the power to govern the Church. Therefore the jurisdiction which the whole College of Bishops possesses, who succeed to the Apostles, comes immediately from Christ Himself.”
Further, he says: “But if we consider the Bishops singly, as the rulers of particular Churches, they have received no jurisdiction immediately from Christ. All such jurisdiction arises immediately from the Church, which distributes dioceses, in which each Bishop singly is to exercise jurisdiction, and assigns to him certain subjects whom he is to govern.’ But it may even be granted and conceded that the jurisdiction, not only of the whole College of Bishops, but even of each singly, proceeds immediately from God Himself. For to the fountain we must return. A distinction is to be drawn between the jurisdiction itself and the act and use of it in exercise. The jurisdiction, indeed, may be derived immediately from God; but all act and use of it is from the Church, which gives the use of it (i.e. the right of using it) to each Bishop, when it assigns to him his subjects, on whom he may exercise this jurisdiction, which is itself of Divine right; but so long as it has no subjects it remains an otiose jurisdiction. So in ordination a priest receives the power of forgiving sins; but unless he have subjects assigned to him by the Church he cannot use it.” This power of the Bishops detracts nothing from the monarchy (of the Pontiff); for though it be not precarious, but proper and native, yet, as it depends on the Supreme Pontiff, his monarchical power is certainly not diminished by their power.
It will be enough if to these two be added the words of Ferrante, whose work is used as the textbook in the Roman Seminary at this time. He says: “Whether the Bishop has the power of jurisdiction (jure divino) by Divine right, that is immediately from God, or by human right, that is from the Supreme Pontiff, was a question agitated in the Council of Trent, but not defined; for which cause the Council, defining that Bishops are superior to priests, and inflicting anathema on those who deny it, purposely abstained from using the words jure divino, which many of the Bishops asked as an addition.
“But though any one may embrace either opinion in this question, [Pope Pius XII infallibly defined this matter in Mystici Corporis and Ad sinarum gentum — Ed.]) yet he who defends the opinion that the power of jurisdiction is of Divine right must be convinced that it is so, subject to the Roman Pontiff; who by his own right can, for a just cause, either wholly take away from the Bishops or suspend that power, or restrain it within certain limits of places or persons or faculties. For that is necessarily required by the primacy of jurisdiction over the Universal Church which by Divine right belongs to the Roman Pontiff. And he who affirms that the episcopal power of jurisdiction is derived immediately from the Roman Pontiff (which opinion indeed is not only more conformable to the reasons which prove the primacy of the Pope over the Church, but also to the testimonies of the Scriptures and of tradition) must not think that it is lawful for the Roman Pontiff to abolish the order of’ Bishops in the Church; for, as we have before seen, the order of Bishops is of Divine institution, and must exist in the ecclesiastical hierarchy.”
He had before defined the Episcopate as “Ordo praditus spirituali potestate cum regendi tum propagandi et perpetuandi sacris ordinationibus Ecclesiam Dei.” It may be well to place in immediate context with this the words of the Vatican Council, which, after defining the monarchy of the Roman Pontiff as a jurisdiction supreme, ordinary, episcopal, and immediate over the whole Church, says, “So far is this power of the Supreme Pontiff from impeding the ordinary and immediate power of episcopal jurisdiction, by which the Bishops, who, being placed by the Holy Ghost, succeed in the stead of the Apostles as true pastors, feed and rule the several flocks assigned to each, that their power is asserted, strengthened, and vindicated by the Supreme and Universal Pastor, according to the words of S. Gregory the Great: ‘My honour is the honour of the Universal Church. My honour is the solid strength of my brethren. I am then truly honoured when the honour due severally to each is not denied to him.’”
No author has drawn out with greater fullness and precision the nature of the Episcopate than Bolgeni in his refutation of the Febronianism and Regalism, which infested Italy in the last century; and the opinions of Bolgeni may be safely held as sound and Roman. He opens his work with these words: “Bishops are set by the Holy Ghost to rule the Church of God; and the Episcopate is nothing else than the power of ruling and governing the Church — by power is meant the power of order and the power of jurisdiction.” He then treats of the origin of the Episcopate, the superiority of Peter to the Apostles, the primacy of Peter’s successors, the propagation of the Episcopate, its restriction and dependence on the Roman Pontiff, and then the unity of the Episcopate. It is on this that we may dwell for a while.
He draws out from Pope Symmachus and from S. Cyprian the analogy between the unity of the Holy Trinity and the unity of the Episcopate; that is, unity in number, unity in its fountain, unity in plurality, equality in the persons; for the Episcopate of the Bishop of Eugubium is as such equal to the Episcopate of the Bishop of Rome. He then quotes the well-known passage of S. Cyprian, in which he draws out the analogy of the sun and its rays, of the fountain and its streams. He insists on the unity of the origin, of the source, and of the identity of the rays with the sun, and of the streams with the waters of the fountain. He calls the See of Peter the head, the root of the Church. He affirms that God communicates the episcopate through Peter to every Bishop, and that in this he and his brethren are all equal; for the Episcopate in him and in them is one and the same. His superiority is in the primacy, which is distinct from the Episcopate. Next he shows that there is an influx of the primacy of Peter in the whole Episcopate; for without him no Bishop can be elected, confirmed, or consecrated; and when consecrated, he receives from the successor of Peter the diocese and flock within which to rule the Church. In this sense it is strictly true that all comes through Peter; even the power of Order, which is given immediately by God in the Sacrament of Consecration, comes through Peter as the channel through which the consecration is given. This influx of the head in the members of the Episcopate he abundantly proves by the words of S. Optatus, S. Augustine, S. Leo, and many more. He quotes a letter of Stephen of Larissa to Boniface II, read in a Roman Council in A.D. 531, in which he says that “Our Lord, in the words ‘Feed my sheep,’ gave the pastoral care, through the successors of Peter, to the Churches throughout the world.” John of Ravenna, writing to S. Gregory the Great, says that Rome is “That see which has transmitted its rights to the Universal Church.” Pope Gregory IV, speaking of the Roman Church, says: ”That it has so imparted its office (vices suns) to other Churches that they are called to a share of its solicitude, not to the plenitude of its power.” In the Council of Pitres in Gaul, in A.D. 869, it is said that Bishops receive their authority in the person of Peter, “according to the authority which we received in Blessed Peter, when the Lord said, ‘Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth,’” &c. In the Council of Rheims, in A.D. 900, it is said, “By the authority divinely conferred upon Bishops through Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles.” This is what S. Augustine says: “Christ gave this power to the Church in Blessed Peter and his successors”; and S. Leo, “Christ never gave, except through Peter, that which He did not refuse to the others,” and “He transmitted nothing to any one without Peter’s participation.” And S. Gregory of Nyssa, who says that Jesus Christ “gave the keys of heavenly blessings to Bishops through Peter.” After giving many more references he concludes as follows: “Bishops, each one in the government of his Church, act in the place of S. Peter (fanno is veci), are Vicars of S. Peter, and, by consequence, of the successors of S. Peter.”
He then quotes the capitularies of Charlemagne, who says, “That all may know the name, power, authority, and dignity of the priesthood, which may be easily understood by the words of the Lord, by which He said to Peter, whose office Bishops bear (cujus vicem episcopi gerunt, or whose Vicars Bishops are), ‘Whatsoever ye shall bind,’” &c.; and Jona of Orleans, who says, “Of what kind is the sacerdotal power and authority is easily seen from the words of the Lord to Peter (cujus vicem indigne gerimur), whose Vicar we unworthily are.” So also Hincmar of Rheims, “Blessed Peter, in whose (cujus vice) stead Bishops act in the Church.” S. Jerome also says that Bishops “stand in the place of Peter.” All these expressions affirm that every Bishop receives through Peter, but immediately from God, the whole character, grace, and power to govern, not this or that diocese, but the Church. Each particular Church which they govern is assigned to them by the successors of Peter, whom they thereby represent in every place.
The following passage from Natalie Alexander is too much to our point to be omitted: “Bishops arc called frequently by the Fathers successors of Peter, by a right, so to speak, of indirect and collateral succession, because Peter only is the fountain and origin, in a certain way, of the ecclesiastical order, and of the power which is communicated to all Bishops. But by right of direct succession, the Roman Pontiff alone is successor or heir of Peter. As the Apostles almost all had no fixed sees, Bishops cannot be called successors of the Apostles except in general, as our polemical theologians say; that is, they cannot be called specially the successors of Andrew or of Philip, whose authority, as it was extra-ordinary, died with them. But Bishops may by right, and strictly, be called successors of Peter, because Peter alone had the ordinary power to which they succeeded, and to which the authority of all prelates has relation, as to the principal and fontal authority. Therefore all Bishops may be called successors of Peter in authority, but not in the degree of authority; that is, they are successors of S. Peter in the Episcopate, not in the primacy.
The Episcopate in all the world is the representative of Peter; for Peter, as S. Augustine says, represents the Church; and this representation is reciprocal by reason of the identity and unity of the Episcopate, and of the jurisdiction which they receive partly through him and partly from him, because they possess not only the jurisdiction which is potentially inherent in the power of Order, but the actual jurisdiction in which that inherent power of government comes forth into act and exercise.” They have, moreover, a jurisdiction which is in no way contained in their other powers, whereby as delegates of the Holy See they can do what lies beyond their ordinary jurisdiction. In this manifold sense the Episcopate in all the world, and every several Bishop in his diocese, is the proper and only true representative of Peter and of the Holy See. So also Peter of Blois, in his Institutio Episcopi, addressed to a friend lately consecrated, says, “Haeres es et Vicarius Petri, pasce oves meas and again, “Christi Villicus es et Vicarius Petri.
The doctrine of the Episcopate thus stated and defended by Bolgeni is fully developed in the following passage: “Returning to the superiority of S. Peter, we have said and proved that in him the episcopal power was lodged by Jesus Christ in all its fullness and sovereignty in distinction from the other Apostles, in whom it was indeed lodged in all its fullness, but with subordination and dependence on S, Peter. This is true if each Apostle be considered alone and by himself; but if the Apostles are considered as a college or body having S. Peter as head, then this body, united with its head, possesses the Episcopate not only in its fullness, but also in its sovereignty. Let it be noted that Jesus Christ in the act of conferring the universal Episcopate, and of giving mission to His Apostles, said to them, all united together, ” Go and teach all nations; preach the Gospel to every creature.” Pope Celestine I notes this circumstance excellently when he says that all Bishops ought to execute this commandment of preaching the Word of God, which was given in common to all the Apostles: Christ “wills that we all should do what He thus commanded in common to all (the Apostles). It was not possible that each several Apostle should go throughout the world to preach the Gospel to all the nations of the earth.”
That was fulfilled by the Apostles taken all together; and it was immediately fulfilled by means of the disciples who did so. The Episcopate therefore, considered in its division into many persons, carries in itself its restriction (i.e. of offices), as Bossuet has told us; but, considered as a college or body of persons, it resumes, I say, its sovereignty. In fact, we see in the constant practice of the Church this point of doctrine clearly expressed. No Bishop by himself, nor many Bishops united together, possess the privilege of infallibility in matters of dogma, nor can make laws in matters of discipline, which oblige out of their own dioceses. And yet when the Bishops meet legitimately in a body representing the whole Episcopal College, that is, in a General Council, the dogmatic decisions which emanate from this body are infallible, and the laws of discipline bind the whole Church. In this body there is to be clearly seen the full, sovereign, sole, and indivisible Episcopate, “of which a part is possessed fully by each.” But every reader already well understands that the Bishops, in howsoever great a number they may be assembled, can never form the body, or represent the Episcopal College, if they have not at their head S. Peter in his successor.
The episcopal body is not headless (acefalo); but, by the institution of Jesus Christ Himself, has a head in the person of the Roman Pontiff. A body without a head is not that (body) to which Jesus Christ, gave the Episcopate full and sovereign. He conferred it on the College of the Apostles, including Saint Peter, who was made superior to all the Apostles. The Episcopate, which is one and indivisible, is such precisely by reason of the connection of the bishops among themselves, and of their submission to one sole Bishop, who is universal and sovereign. Therefore the full, universal, and sovereign power of governing the Church is the Episcopate, full and sovereign, which exists in the person of S. Peter and of each of his successors, and in the whole Apostolic College united to S. Peter, and in the whole body of the Bishops united to the Pope.