National Catholic Register
July 18, 2020
By Fr. Raymond J. de Souza
Although the 150-year-old document affirmed the definition of papal infallibility, that does not touch the daily life of the Church in the same way as does the affirmation of the universal jurisdiction of the pope.
One of the most routine things the Holy Father does is appoint bishops. Almost every day there are a few appointments, and the fact that he is doing so is wholly unremarkable. It wasn’t always that way, and it is that way because of what the First Vatican Council did 150 years ago.
On July 18, 1870, the Council approved Pastor Aeternus ,its dogmatic constitution on the Church. It is most well known for the definition of papal infallibility, that the pope cannot err when teaching ex cathedra (authoritatively) on matters of faith and morals.
Important as that affirmation was, it does not touch the daily life of the Church in the same way as the other teaching of Pastor Aeternus, namely the universal jurisdiction of the Roman pontiff.
The Council’s language was technical, but sweeping: “Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.”
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