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Bishops And Dispensations
One may ask, "Why is it necessary to have a bishop grant a dispensation? What difference does it make?" The answer lies in the Office of the Bishop. Read Acts 20:28:
"Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.
Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood." (Act 20:28).
The term "overseer" has often been used to render the Greek into English. The term bishop is preferable because most people are familiar with that role. What many people are not aware of is that each bishop has an unbroken, historically traceable lineage to one or more of the Holy Apostles, known as Apostolic Succession. The ancient and undivided Church always understood that this meant that the bishops carried the authority of Our Lord to rule the Church. In the Western World, people began to rebel against this rule because of papal abuses. As most of them broke, they did not have any bishops. They found it necessary to rationalize a Church government and theology without bishops. This has resulted in hundreds of denominations today.
Bishops And Ihe Apostolic Succession
The fact of the matter is that the Apostolic Succession is transmitted by the bishops as a "college" or group as were the Holy Apostles. The bishops are considered to be successors to the Apostles. The Roman Catholic Church places a great deal of emphasis on the Succession of St. Peter, the Holy See. At the same time, it acknowledges that Peter was not alone. The other "lines" of Succession are also acknowledged to be valid. The Patriarch of Constantinople, of the Orthodox Catholic Church, for example, is known to be the successor of St. Andrew. Remember, however, that bishops carry many lines of Apostolic Succession. These lines are discussed in terms of historical and geographical reference. Remember. it only takes one line of succession for a bishop to be counted as valid in the eyes of Rome.
Once A Bishop, Always A Bishop
Holy Orders (ordinations) are considered indelible. It is like baptism: it can not be rescinded. Even if a bishop is excommunicated, he is still considered fully valid in the view of the Roman Catholic Church. They may not want him behind their altar, but nevertheless, he is still just as much a bishop as the day he was consecrated. This is an important point. We are focusing here on the spiritual aspects and Canonical realities• not the church politics. Once one is ordained a deacon, priest or bishop, one will always be one. This is the view of the Roman Catholic Church. The "power of Orders" remains effective. This is a key point.
"What's The Point, Bishop?"
The point is, that if you have a valid bishop (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or a break therefrom), you have someone with that unbroken connection to the Holy Spirit and the ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ referred to in Acts 20:28 and elsewhere. It is a royal priesthood. It is governed by the bishops as pointed out in Acts 20:28. If a bishop grants a dispensation, it is done by that authority.
It is essentially a spiritual act. It is not a bureaucratic act. It is not an act of a group of laity paper shuffling in a diocesan or parish office. It is not an act of deacons and Canon lawyers either. It is an act of a bishop. True, he may be assisted by others in fact finding. Ultimately, it is his decision as he is led by the Holy Spirit - .not typists, files, boardrooms, psychological counselors, and the set of modern pharisees that has grown up out of it.
The Office Of Bishop And Abdication To Latty And Deacons
Most anyone familiar with the Orthodox or Roman Catholic Churches know that it is within the power of Orders of a Bishop to make decisions and grant dispensations in these matters. Canon Law (rule of discipline) actually exists by the desire of the bishops. A bishop has enormous latitude in these areas. They have a tendency not to make exceptions because this breeds demand for more exceptions. The bureaucracy, having been told where to resist and where to apply discouragement, will do what it is told. Laity working in the churches parrot what they are told from the hierarchy. Many of these individuals are rigid in their attitudes. Some are very narrow-minded and even fanatical. I was told by one Roman Catholic person, for example, that a priest refused for one year to even give her the application for an annulment. My information comes to me from hundreds of individuals and couples who have had experiences with my Roman brethren. I also have other confidential sources.