Jesuit Superior: Pope “not the chief of Church” – he’s the Bishop of Rome…

Jesuit Superior: Pope “not the chief of Church” – he’s the Bishop of Rome…

Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, superior general of the Jesuits, said in an interview Monday that Pope Francis consciously calls himself the Bishop of Rome, instead of using grander titles.    

“Very frequently we forget that the pope is not the chief of the Church, he’s the Bishop of Rome,” Fr. Sosa told EWTN in an interview Oct. 15.

“As the bishop of Rome, he has another service to do to the Church, that is, to try to [bring about] the communion of the whole Church.”

By convoking the youth synod, taking place in Rome Oct. 3-28, Francis is exercising his role as pope by bringing together a group “of his own peers” to make a “contribution to the communion of the whole Church,” Sosa said.

“Fr. Sosa is certainly correct to say that the pope is the Bishop of Rome, but it would be a mistake to infer from that title that the Holy Father is merely ‘first among equals,’” Chad Pecknold, Associate Professor of Theology at the Catholic University of America, told CNA.

Pecknold told CNA that popes often and correctly speak of their “brother bishops,” but that the Petrine office is unique.

The pope “holds an office of supreme authority over every bishop in communion with him, and of course over the faithful too. It isn’t a charism of dominance but of paternal care – the popes traditionally use the title ‘servant of the servants of God.’”

Sosa said that because Pope Francis feels each bishop is responsible for his local church, this synod, in which Church leaders come together to discuss and decide church affairs, is an expression of dialogue and communion between all of the bishops.

Pecknold agreed that the world’s bishops are each truly invested with the authority to govern, teach, and minister to their own dioceses. But a bishop’s ministry must always be done in union with the pope, who, he said, “is the visible center of communion for the universal Church.”

“The worldwide college of bishops exists in what the Church calls ‘hierarchical communion’ with each other and with the head, the pope. When the we talk about authority of the college of bishops to teach or lead, the Church is always careful to emphasize that this is only possible in union with the pope, who is the head of the college,” Pecknold explained.

In his interview, Sosa also explained that the collaborative work of the synod is a work of discernment, something he said was very important to Pope Francis. The Jesuit superior said that although the concept of discernment is a key feature of Jesuit spirituality, the act of listening to the Spirit has been a part of the Church’s for a long time.
“Discernment is the way that this communion [of the universal Church] can be made and how the Church will find the structure to reflect a Church that is open to that synodality,” Sosa continued.

“Because the Church is supposed to be governed not by men but by the Spirit. So [the Synod of Bishops] is not a kind of parliament, where you have to have a majority or minority, but we all together try to listen to the Spirit. And that’s what discernment teaches us to do.”

In comments to journalists Oct. 16, Cardinal Louis Sako I, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon, echoed this point: “The synod is not a political parliament, is a synod of fathers, teachers,” he said. “What can we give, what can we offer the young, the faithful?”

The Synod of Bishops, which was established by Pope St. Paul VI following Vatican Council II, was created to continue the collaborative effects of the council fathers.

The Code of Canon Law defines it as a work of “collaborative assistance” to the pope’s ministry, and stresses that it exists to “foster unity” among the bishops, including with the pope. It also states that the synod is itself a creation of papal authority, deriving its legitimacy not from the bishops attending but from the pope who called them to the session. Whether a synod session’s conclusions are deliberative or consultative is explicitly up to the pope, who decides how much of his own authority to delegate to it.

In this sense, Pecknold told CNA, it functions nothing like a parliament.

“Parliaments are political, legislative bodies,” he said.

“The Synod of Bishops exists to foster unity and to give the pope the benefit of their counsel. In that sense, their job isn’t to pass this resolution or block that one – it is to work together to advise the pope as best they can, and that is a work of communion and service, not confrontation.”  Source


Pope Francis DID emphasise, right from the beginning, from his words on election delivered from the Vatican balcony, that he was Bishop of Rome… He has, it seems, sought to play down his papal role.  So,  the question has to be… does it matter?  Shouldn’t we applaud his humility in shying away from all things Petrine?  

Comments (16)

  • Lily

    That’s the first time I’ve read an article referring to “Pope St Paul VI” !

    I already knew that Pope Francis prefers to be known as the Bishop of Rome, so I wish he would just dress like any other bishop and refuse invitations to travel the world, as Pope! Then we’ll see what’s what about his supposed humility, LOL!

    October 17, 2018 at 3:03 pm
  • myforever77

    At least Francis agrees with many, that he is not the Pope! A true Pope must be Catholic. I give him credit for his honesty. lol!

    October 17, 2018 at 3:09 pm
  • gabriel syme

    Strange, I seem to remember Sosa fiercely defending Francis’ novelties on the grounds that he is the Pope and so can do as he pleases.

    But now, on another day, he is “not the chief”.

    Sosa and his Jesuit colleagues should be simply ignored. They are a malign cancer in the Church.

    Fortunately their order is in free-fall and so we should not have to tolerate them for too much longer.

    Sosa, who would claim to be a Christian, was a signatory of a letter welcoming Fidel Castro to Venezuela in 1989. Yes, this Fidel Castro:

    As someone ordained after the Council, Sosa obviously has no fundamental idea of what Catholicism actually is, much like his mucker Francis.

    And yes, Francis made his agenda very clear from the start, claiming the conclave which inflicted him upon us was just a means of “selecting the Bishop of Rome”.

    However, like Sosa, he changes his spots when it suits. When Cardinal Mueller was still at the CDF and asked for an explanation as to why Francis removed 3 of his best staff, Francis told him:

    I am the pope, I do not need to give reasons for any of my decisions. I have decided that they have to leave and they have to leave

    So it seems hypocrisy, as well as stupidity, is the modern hallmark of the Jesuits.

    October 17, 2018 at 3:24 pm
    • Faith of Our Fathers

      Sometimes also a picture paints a Thousand Words. This Guy with his Comb Over is just to Smug Looking for my liking. What his thoughts are also on Our Beliefs are astonishing. Just the other day on LSNews he was more or less saying that the Devil was a figmant of our Imagination .As for his comments on Francis and his Humility about being known only as The Bishop of Rome. I think all of us are fed up with all of this False Humility Garbage. The best thing the Jesuits could do for Our Catholic Church is become a Silent Order.

      October 17, 2018 at 11:24 pm
      • editor


        “The best thing the Jesuits could do for Our Catholic Church is become a Silent Order.”

        Priceless! I really DID laugh out loud at that! You really are a case for the High Court, FOOF.

        October 17, 2018 at 11:50 pm
      • gabriel syme


        “smug” is exactly the word for Mr Sosa, exactly the word.

        October 19, 2018 at 1:50 pm
  • RCAVictor

    Very clever introductory question, Editor! Some clergy have indeed shied away from all things Petrine when favored or elected as Pope, because they humbly thought they did not have the strength to fulfill the demands of that high office.

    Francis, on the other hand, avoids all things Petrine not because he is humble, but because he despises the Church, the Faith, and the Person whose Vicar he is. No, he prefers the company of Communists, atheists, homosexuals, racketeers and Muslims – in other words, those with whom he has a great deal in common: their hatred of the Church. This enables him to use his ecumenical coterie to help him destroy that which he hates.

    As for this Sosa rascal, the letters “SJ” after his name are all we need to know (this applies to Francis as well). A little anecdote: this past Saturday our parish had a Rosary rally to commemorate the Miracle of the Sun. One of the speakers was a Jesuit who had been transferred from his local post to Detroit because of his unshakeable orthodoxy. In other words, the Jesuit leadership despises the Catholic Faith, and will attempt to bury anyone who affirms it. Detroit is apparently the armpit of the Jesuit world in the USA.

    I daresay most Jesuits should have different initials after their names: SS. That is, the Synagogue of Satan…or, the Nazi Schutzstaffel, if you prefer, since they are now protecting and promoting a dictator.

    October 17, 2018 at 3:34 pm
  • John Rayner

    That there are some really fine Jesuit priests is a statement that I suggest should be taken without question. However, of late, the fine clergy within that Order must, by now, be feeling rather let down by the rotten eggs which have infiltrated it. We can now see how a few rotten fruits can really hurt the whole community.

    October 17, 2018 at 10:45 pm
  • Athanasius


    My experience with modern Jesuits is that the rotten eggs number more than a few. I think the good ones are the few. That Order should have been suppressed when it became clear in the 19th century that it was turning rogue. The Jesuits are the masterminds of Modernism in the Church.

    October 17, 2018 at 11:01 pm
  • John

    Step by step this pope is trying to destroy catholism

    Editor: please read my reply to this, before visiting that link.

    October 17, 2018 at 11:24 pm
    • editor


      As I pointed out to you in my reply to your email, sending me that link, that article is one of those spoofs written to shock, calculated to disturb, only to find that he’s writing about the novus ordo which we already know about – that article makes it sound as if the Pope is planning some even NEWER new Mass.

      I’ve just submitted a comment on that blog, which has gone to moderation – possibly will not see the light of day, but, as I said in my comment, I consider it to be very wrong to cause further unnecessary anxiety in souls, already deeply disturbed by what is going on in the Church. God knows, the facts as we have them right now, are bad enough. Pretending that something really evil is about to happen that is NOT about to happen, is totally unnecessary and, in fact, mischevious.

      As I also pointed out in my comment, any Catholic who is half-way informed about the state of the Church at this time, should be way beyond attending the novus ordo. They should be attending the TLM or, if unable to do so, staying at home to pray the rosary, read the Missal and do some extra spiritual reading – anything except place their souls in danger. So, there’s really no reason to keep alive the novus ordo – as Cardinal Ranjith pointed out some years ago now, the novus ordo will be gone in 30 years. Why waste time and energy discussing it? We’re WAY beyond the novus ordo. WAY beyond.

      October 17, 2018 at 11:43 pm
  • John

    Sorry folks I took the bait hook line and sinker

    October 17, 2018 at 11:58 pm
    • RCAVictor


      I took it too, but then I spit it out about halfway down, along with a few words which I won’t mention, since there are women present.

      October 18, 2018 at 3:11 am
      • John

        RCA Victor

        The trouble with me I am far too impatient, I only really read to halfway and was convinced it was true and only skimmed over the second half of the article.

        Why would anyone have a headline (Pope to say new mass) when that is the mass he has always said.
        I won’t be taken in like that again !
        Not until the next time. 😇 😂.

        October 18, 2018 at 9:48 am
      • RCAVictor


        Early this year/late last year there was a rumor raging on the blogs that there would be yet another “new Mass” promulgated on the First Sunday of Advent – this new Mass, that is, allegedly another gutting of the Traditional Mass. I wonder if that article was a take-off on that rumor, which died shortly after it appeared.

        Well, maybe that’s the “surprise” that will be coming out of this Sin-Nod. Who knows!

        October 18, 2018 at 3:01 pm
  • RCAVictor

    Here’s what our Not-the-Chief-of-the-Church is wearing these days:

    October 18, 2018 at 3:04 pm

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