A reader writes concerning the alleged historical precedent for Popes kicking out bushels of bad bishops…
I’m not totally up on my history but I also believe there is little precedent for it. Here is a link for the Cath Encyc art on Theodosius, the Emperor who helped Greg Nazianzen wrap up Arian mess.
See especially this note:
“As soon as he came to Constantinople Theodosius began expelling the Arians, who had hitherto been in possession. The Aryan bishop, Demophilus, left the city (Socr., V, 7; Soz., VII, 5), St. Gregory of Nazianzus undertook the administration of the diocese. In January, 381, the prefect had orders to close all Arian chapels in the city and to expel those who served them. The same severe measures were ordered throughout Theodosius’s dominion, not only against Arians, but also in the case of Manichaeans and all other heretics. However Sozomen says that the emperor ‘made severe punishment by his laws, but did not carry them out, for he did not wish to punish, but only to frighten his subjects, that they might think as he did about Divine things, And he praised those who were converted of their own accord’ (H. E., VII, 12).”
This is just on the fly – lots more stuff on the popes of the day, Nazianzen, Athanasius, etc., that I’m not even referencing or remembering. But, really, if the pope (then) didn’t just yank bishes out of their sees over **doctrinal error**, why is he (today) going to yank them out over disciplinary matters?
This will be corrected as bishes are replaced, but I absolutely believe that the Holy Father is permitting the American Church to suffer a difficult time (and, from the long view of history, I have a hard time calling it more than that, though of course individuals have suffered terribly). I think if he looks at the Church in, say, East Timor, Somalia, the Sudan, China, etc., and then in the US, he’s not going to feel very motivated to use the extreme of his administrative power to correct a problem in a whiny rich country that was of our own making. IMVHO.