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Bishops insist collegiality should not challenge papal primacy

This month's Synod of Bishops in Rome has been told that petitions for an increased role of bishops in Church governance must not undermine papal authority.

A number of bishops, including Ecuadorean Bishop José Mario Ruiz Navas and Swiss Bishop Amédée Grab of Chur, president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, last week requested that the assembly increase the powers of the bishops' conferences and the synod.

But two of the participants, Hungarian Cardinal Laszlo Paskai, and Mexican Archbishop Luis Morales Reyes, reminded their fellow bishops that collegiality cannot challenge papal primacy, which has an irreplaceable character in the Church.

Cardinal Paskai said he felt obliged to speak in defence of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, because he believes that it is necessary "to express clearly the doctrine of the Church in our time, where the common sentiment is against authority and hierarchy".

The 73-year-old Hungarian cardinal, who for decades suffered from the Communist repression, reminded the assembly that "the person and the service of the Supreme Pontiff has given great spiritual force and strength to the faithful in the past, during the Christian persecutions."

For his part, Archbishop Morales Reyes of San Luis Potosi addressed the question of Peter's Successor, explaining that "faithfulness to this primacy is an integral and unrenounceable part of the Christian faith".

"Episcopal collegiality must be understood in the light of the sources of revelation and not of human or social models with which there could be some apparent resemblance," he added.