The Heresy of Popular Sovereignty

 It was a political hermeneutic: for the media, the Council was a political struggle, a power struggle between different trends in the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of those who seemed to them more closely allied with their world. There were those who sought the decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the expression “People of God”, power for the people, the laity. There was this threefold question: the power of the Pope, which was then transferred to the power of the bishops and the power of all – popular sovereignty. Naturally, for them, this was the part to be approved, to be promulgated, to be favoured.

Benedict XVI’s Address to the Roman Clergy of February 14, 2013

The complete address has been released on the Vatican website.  Please read it in its entirety.  It is extraordinarily important.

23 thoughts on “The Heresy of Popular Sovereignty

  1. I will be honest that I haven’t yet read the complete address but this is an incredible paragraph! One thing that I find curious, that perhaps reading the entire address would resolve, is that I thought that Vatican II WAS trying to give more power to the bishops. No? (Council of Bishops) I thought that’s what one of the gripes of the SSPX was all about. I also thought that JPII was asking for the laity to become more involved. Not that we get more power, mind you, but certainly that we take more on. The line in the sand was moved from the Magisterium having all the ‘power’ to them not having all the power and confusion reigned from there. Not that this wasn’t a good idea, but implementing it PROPERLY clearly will take awhile.

    Am I missing something?

  2. In South America (America Latina) this heresy is feeded by the followers of Liberation Theology (Teologia da Libertação).

    It can seem a good idea give more chances to laypeople take tasks/offices in the Church, but in the practice it is very deleterious. Practically that means the abandonment of the clergy of their duties and the transference of their duties to the lay people, building this way a protestant Church inside the Catholic Church.

  3. Maybe we can pray for an increase of holy priests throughout the world so we can push the laity back into the pews where they belong, right?

  4. Right, Marie! I couldn’t agree more! Some time ago the Congregation for the Clergy has launched a precious subsidy (subisídio) for vocation prayer. I’m going to try find out a link of it to share here with you and the other readers of Fr. Angelo’s blog.

  5. Jennifer,

    I think that the distinction that Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, is trying to draw involves interpretation of the theological teachings of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in light of political goals important to the modern Western world. The Second Vatican Council taught *essential theological truths* through the Ordinary Magisterium of the Catholic Church regarding the very nature of the Episcopacy, and of each member Bishop of that order. It explicated certain things about the Episcopacy that, while in keeping with broader Catholic traditions in the Eastern Churches as well as the Western Church, were nevertheless extremely important. In teaching the nature of the Episcopate very clearly and reasserting its powers and responsibilities, yes, the Bishops gained clear recognition of their power, but not for the reasons that the media in the West wanted them to, nor in the same domino fashion. There is no theological or traditional justification for that kind of modern nonsense. The laity gained power too, but in a different way. Vatican II also rendered explicit the fact from Scripture and Tradition that there is a Ministerial Priesthood, and a Priesthood of the People of God. Understood rightly, as two completely distinct sharings in the one Priesthood of Christ, there is no theological problem with it, and it grants the laity the recognized responsibility to share their Catholic Faith, lead holy lives, carry out missions and Apostolates, and so forth, by virtue of the Baptismal lay Priesthood of the Priestly people of God. Again, neither of these emphases of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council are what the media interpreted them to be; they are, rather, theological teachings that have ecclesiastical effects.


  6. Alex, thank you for posting the link “Adoration, Reparation, and Spiritual Motherhood”. I enjoyed reading it very much. Got any links about sacred music? I can’t stand the Protestant stuff being played in churches today. Sacred music was one of the ‘draws’ that brought me to the Latin Mass. I miss the altar rails as well.
    Well, thank you again for the beautiful stories. I gave my life to Jesus and Mary long ago for the sake of priests; those who are struggling, and those who guide my soul. A holy priesthood means a holy Catholic Church! 🙂

    God bless you, Alex.

  7. Marie, thank you for your feedback! I’m happy to know that you enjoyed that book or maganize! Indeed it is very beautiful and enlightening!

    I love listening sacred music! Actually I want to learn Gregorian Chant. But that is long story. If Fr. Angelo allows, I’m going to share with you some beautiful sacred songs that I have known.
    Pax et Bonum!

  8. I have to admit that I love knowing what is going on and reading and so on and so forth.

    In this day of Conclave beginning, Veni Creator is a good Gregorian Chant to listening to.

    Hymnus VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS, Visione spartito, due versioni, SCHOLA GREGORIANA MEDIOLANENSIS, Dir. Giovanni Vianini, Milano, Italia

  9. About Pope Pius XII’s writtens, I’m not well recorded to read something about redemption. I have the Enciclical Haurietis Aquas about the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. I think it’s vey likely that he speaks about the redemption. See



    May 15, 1956

    Venerable Brethren: Health and Apostolic Benediction.

    1. “You shall draw waters with joy out of the Savior’s fountain.”(1) These words by which the prophet Isaias, using highly significant imagery, foretold the manifold and abundant gifts of God which the Christian era was to bring forth, […].

    Otherwise, I have already read Sacra Virginitas about the sacred celibay of the clergy. Perhaps you would like to read it too. See



  10. No, I don’t think that is what I am looking for. Maybe my spiritaul director misquoted the Pope’s name. We were discussing redemption and my son’s sufferings. I thought Pope JPII was the one to write encyclicals on redemption. Of course, that would be narrow-minded of me to think he would be the only one to do that. I probably wouldn’t understand the writings anyway…thanks for looking.

  11. Thanks for the link/video to Veni Creator Spiritus. I would play CD’s of Gregorian Chant during homeschool hours when my children were younger. It quiets the soul… 🙂

  12. Marie, probabily you are taking about Remptor Hominis. (I haven’t yet read it.)

    1. At the close of the second Millennium

    THE REDEEMER OF MAN, Jesus Christ, is the centre of the universe and of history. […]

    But John Paul II has written an Apostolic Letter about suffering. I have already read it. It is SALVIFICI DOLORIS.

    4. This is the origin also of the present reflection, precisely in the Year of the Redemption: a meditation on suffering. Human suffering evokes compassion; it also evokes respect, and in its own way it intimidates. For in suffering is contained the greatness of a specific mystery. This special respect for every form of human suffering must be set at the beginning of what will be expressed here later by the deepest need of the heart, and also by the deep imperative of faith. About the theme of suffering these two reasons seem to draw particularly close to each other and to become one: the need of the heart commands us to overcome fear, and the imperative of faith—formulated, for example, in the words of Saint Paul quoted at the beginning—provides the content, in the name of which and by virtue of which we dare to touch what appears in every man so intangible: for man, in his suffering, remains an intangible mystery.

  13. Alex,
    You understood SALVIFICI DOLORIS? I scanned through it, found the part about Mary standing at the foot of the Cross, then stopped reading. JPII wrote for the intellectuals of the world, not someone like me. I’ll stare at the crucifix, and pray my rosary. The world seems less ‘complicated’ that way. I appreciate the links.
    God bless you.

  14. Yes, Marie! I understood! But It has already many years I have read it. Perhaps I should read it again to make sure.
    Indeed John Paul II’s writtens have a very difficult language, but it was his style. Actually I don’t like that style too.

  15. Alex, you seem to like interesting information. Here is something for you:
    St Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, was/is the patron of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy….the Order that St Faustina joined in the 1920’s. I thought how wonderful it would be if this new Holy Father, being a Jesuit, would promote Divine Mercy to the Church, which is so much in need of practicing mercy. Then today I read Dawn Eden’s post that the Holy Father spoke on Divine Mercy when he was a Cardinal!
    I pray Holy Father Francis is the new Seraphic Father for Holy Mother Church. I pray that it is no coincidence he chose the name Francis…the one who rebuilt the Church hundreds of years ago. I pray our new Pope spreads a greater devotion of Divine Mercy to the people of the world…and let it begin with me. (No pun intended)
    Saint Ignatius taught his fellow priests the Ignatian Exercises…and many souls were converted because of his method. So, it seems our new Pope might be a Francis of Assisi, and Francis Xavier… (the Jesuit). Time will tell.

  16. Marie, thank you for this info! Actually I’m also a devotee of the Divine Mercy. I have already read St. Faustina’s Diary. How huge good its reading granted me. About Pope Francis, he has already said he chose his name because of St. Francis of Assis. St. Francis of Assis is very loved in South America (America Latina). Otherwise, St. Francis Xavier is almost unknown, although he was a great saint too.

  17. Alex,
    I have St Faustina’s first class relic in my home. Someone is letting her visit me for the season of Lent. So far, no miracles. My heart remains unchanged toward some individuals who have hurt me, my son still has grand mal seizures in the middle of the night, and I just found out two days ago that my one year old grandson is also going to be handicapped. Suffering = Mercy?
    If this is the way God loves us…..

  18. Marie, I’m so sorry for your suffering and and for the suffering of your loved ones. May God confort you all. I’m going to pray for you all.

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