Kevin Orlin Johnson comments below:

Yes, bishops should be removed immediately–all of them. That was the verdict of Abp. Bedini, the very first papal emissary sent over here, in 1853, to sort out the miscreant American clergy. Every subsequent papal emissary has said the same thing: remove these bishops and replace them with “suitable candidates”.

But we can’t sit around waiting for the Pope to remove them. We have to help him; in fact, we have to do it ourselves. Pope St. Pius X issued an encyclical, Maxima cura, specifically to allow Americans to remove miscreant bishops and priests, and John Paul II codified its provisions as Canon 1741 in his new Code of Canon Law in 1983. It’s up to us.

I’m no canonist, but I can read.

The language of Canon 1741 is this: Can. 1741 The reasons for which a parish priest can lawfully be removed from his parish are principally:

1° a manner of acting which causes grave harm or disturbance to ecclesiastical communion;

2° ineptitude or permanent illness of mind or body, which makes the parish priest unequal to the task of fulfilling his duties satisfactorily;

3° the loss of the parish priest’s good name among upright and serious-minded parishioners, or aversion to him, when it can be foreseen that these factors will not quickly come to an end

4° grave neglect or violation of parochial duties, which persists after a warning;

5° bad administration of temporal goods with grave harm to the Church, when no other remedy can be found to eliminate this harm.

Nowhere else in the section did I see a syllable talking about our right to remove a bishop autonomously. It’s all directed at parish priests. Perhaps Dr. Johnson can explain where he got this notion.

In the meantime, my main question as a layman is, even if Dr. Johnson can somehow credibly construe a text that appears to be entirely directed toward the removal of miscreant parish priests, not bishops: How realistic (not to mention just) is this, coupled with his amazing demand that we remove every American bishop? Every American bishop? This is far beyond the most draconian idea I have heard anybody propose and seems to me to wildly overreactive.

I should be very interested to hear from other canonists about this.


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