83 – We take up this journey: Bishop and People. Before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me.

‘You water the hills from your lofty abode; the earth is sated with the fruit of your works’ (Psalm 103:13). This simple material reality presented by the sacred text – of rain that irrigates the mountains, giving rise to springs and streams that in turn water the Earth – was chosen by the Angelic Doctor for his inaugural lecture at the University of Paris. Like a soaring eagle, with his characteristic genius, Saint Thomas summed up an important law of the spiritual order from this simple natural fact: ‘The King and Lord of the heavens set down this law from all eternity that the gifts of his Providence should come to the lower through intermediaries’ (St. Thomas Aquinas, Principium Rigans montes, preface).

Indeed, the Most High created a succession of intermediaries, and is pleased to grant His graces through their agency. We can observe this in the Scriptures themselves. For example, the innumerable occasions on which Moses interceded for the Chosen People, delivering them from chastisement, and sometimes even from extermination, and obtaining the divine pardon. Or within the incomparable Sacerdotal Prayer of Jesus (John Ch.17), when He prayed to His Father for the Apostles, and for all of those who would believe through them. In our daily lives too these intermediations are also present: either in the case of priests – who are instruments chosen by Christ to dispense the precious fruits of the Redemption among the faithful by means of the Sacraments – or even in the case of parents who, by virtue of the common priesthood received in baptism, bless their children.

These are some considerations that come to mind as we recall March 13th 2013, when the universal Church breathlessly awaited the blessing of its new Supreme Pastor. The Bishop of Rome appeared on the Central loggia…but, inclined himself and expressed his desire to receive the divine blessing invoked by the people!
What happened? By any chance, can the earth irrigate the mountains? Had the disposition of the Eternal Wisdom been inverted? Let’s take a look at what the Magisterium says.

Francis

Quote A

Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter in the various parts of our study

ContentsAuthors
I – The Pope and the people: who should invoke the divine blessing for whom?
II – The Bishop of Rome: merely one inter pares or Universal Pastor?


I – The Pope and the people: who should invoke the divine blessing for whom?


Sacred Scripture

A lesser person is blessed by a greater

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

There exists a hierarchy in the ministry of blessings: in the presence of an ordained minister, the laity should concede the presidency

Pius XII

The Church is a body with a variety of members reciprocally dependent - those who exercise sacred power in this Body are its chief members

Pius X

The Church is essentially an unequal society comprising two categories: Pastors and flock

Council of Trent

To affirm that all Christians are endowed with an equal spiritual power is to disarrange the ecclesiastical hierarchy

Pius XII

The members of the Mystical Body are not all qualified to perform the same acts

Clement I of Rome

Each one only gives thanks to God honorably in his own order and not transgressing the prescribed rule of his own office

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Specific apostolic powers are derived from the sacrament of Holy Orders

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

Only ministers may perform the priestly office publicly for men in the name of Christ

Pius XII

The sacrament of holy orders sets the priest apart from the rest of the faithful…
… qualifying him to perform those official acts of religion by which men are sanctified

Pius XI

From the cradle to the grave the priest is ever beside the faithful as a dispenser of grace and blessing
The priest is a public and official intercessor of humanity before God

II – The Bishop of Rome: merely one inter pares or Universal Pastor?


Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

The Successor of Saint Peter was given charge of all the sheep of the whole flock – not just those of any city or country

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The Bishop of Rome is the Successor of Peter in his primatial service in the universal Church

Benedict XVI

The indissoluble bond between romanum and petrinum implies and requires universal concern

John Paul II

The See of Rome has a universal mission

Boniface I

The watchful care over the universal Church is confided to Peter - His office can never be free from cares

John Paul II

The bishop of Rome is more obliged than other bishops to work for the good of the universal Church

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The Bishop of Rome has a unique sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum due to full and supreme power in the Church

Clement VI

Those who have succeeded blessed Peter hold the same power over the complete and universal body of the church

Pius XII

Christ entrusted the visible government of the entire community He founded to the Chief of the Apostles

John Paul II

To the ministry of Peter is confided both flock and the shepherds

Leo the Great

Even among the blessed Apostles, it was given only to Peter to lead the rest

John XXII

Condemned: the affirmation that Peter had no more authority than the other Apostles

Leo the Great

Peter governs all of those who are principally governed by Christ

John XXIII

All bishops are subject to the Roman pontiff

Vatican Council II  (Ecumenical XXI)

The college of bishops has no authority unless together with the Roman Pontiff

One thought on “83 – We take up this journey: Bishop and People. Before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me.

  1. Acts 12 – Peter is in prison, the Church prayed for him. To this argument, by the words quoted, Francis asked the people to pray to God that He might bless Francis before Francis blesses the people – which is consistent with the analogy of St Thomas.

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