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Card. Dopfner: the Supreme Power of the Church
Belongs to the Bishops

Cardinal Julius Dopfner - Archbishop of Munich, Germany - was one of the four moderators directing the sessions of Vatican II as a representative of Paul VI. His main book is The Living Church Today, in which he explains the reforms of Vatican II.

In this work, Dopfner unequivocally states that, according to the Council, the supreme power of the Church no longer belongs to the Pope, but rather to the College of the Bishops. The Pope might exert such power only as the head of the College.

It is certainly an affirmation diametrically opposed to the previous infallible doctrine defined by the First Vatican Council.

Top right is a facsimile of the book cover; at right, a photocopy of the Italian text. Below, we present our translation.
"Vatican Council II is important for its concept of Papacy, above all because of the relationship it makes between papal power and the College of Bishops. Until now, the Pope related principally with each individual Bishop; now the Pope and the College of Bishops are placed side by side in a more accentuated way.

"Hence it appears evident that the College of Bishops holds the supreme power of the Church in the same way [as the Pope]: that is, it has the power to teach infallibly and to guide the people of God on the path of salvation, which depends upon and will always and inviolably depend upon the Pope alone.

"Nonetheless, it is certain that the College of Bishops and the Pope do not hold such power independently, but only when intimately linked together."


(Julius Dopfner, La Chiesa Viventi Oggi, Bari: Paoline, 1972, pp. 220-221).
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Posted on August 13, 2005


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