"Patriarch of the West" II, with clarification

The Vatican now says it abolished the papal title “Patriarch of the West” because the Western Patriarchate has been superceded by the system of national and multinational bishops’ conferences, as the means of organization of the Latin Church. An example of a national bishops’ conference is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (formerly NCCB). A prominent multinational bishops conference is CELAM, the one for Latin America, bringing together the various national bishops’ conferences there.

This represents a reversal by Pope Benedict, who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in charge of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, in the 1990s I think, denied theological significance to the national bishops’ conferences. Now they’re replacing the ancient Roman Patriarchate!

Ironically, this action seems to remove the canonical basis for the Pope of Rome’s rule over the Latin Church, unless, again, they prefer to emphasize his “universal jurisdiction.”

In any case, the move has nothing really to do with relations with Orthodoxy, as was originally surmised by some commentators in the media.

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