During the Consistory, the intervention of a cardinal focused precisely on the question of episcopal potestas.
The bishop's potestas (power) is reduced only to sacred matters and no longer to the authority given by the sacrament of Holy Orders.
In that case, the sacrament is somehow emptied of meaning: The risk, said the cardinal, is the eventual desacralization of the sacrament tout court.
"Today, the power of priests is only over sacred things, but how big is the step to a stage where even sacred questions can be entrusted to lay people?"
On the purely canonical issue, another cardinal pointed out that the same code allows the laity to "cooperate" with the government. However, the report by Bishop Mellino maintains that this cooperation must be understood as actual participation.
This interpretation might go beyond the spirit of the Code of Canon Law. The cooperation of the laity in the power of government is considered a derogation, but now it has become a possible norm. This generates, it should be noted, another problem of a hierarchical nature.
Dicasteries are also the last resort for normative questions. What happens if a dicastery goes against a bishop's decision on an issue that pertains to Holy Orders, and a layperson leads this dicastery? How and where is the hierarchical principle of the Church in such cases in play?
The meaning of synodality
The question and meaning of synodality has also been much debated. Some cardinals from the East warned that "not everything is synodality or can be described as such."
In this context, another subject for debate was the definition of the Curia as serving the pope and the bishops. It is impossible for the Roman Curia to respond personally to every bishop, let alone in the way it responds to the bishop of Rome.
Another concern is that such a language risks presenting the particular Churches as branches of the Roman Church, and some cardinals also see a centralization incompatible with the collegial relationship between bishops on display.
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The general structure of the document was also debated.
Some argued that the Dicastery of Faith should be put first, as it was in ancient times, and others have noticed that even the use of the word "dicasteries" seems more like a concession to secular vocabulary than a real change.
The silenced cardinals
Then, there are the open criticisms, such as those of Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, 93, whose memo was published in full by Sandro Magister.
Brandmüller said the consistory was planned and organized precisely in such a way as to prevent the cardinals from speaking openly. His contribution even went so far as to propose a reform of the conclave's rules that would allow only cardinals residing in the city to vote because only they, on this argument, are aware of the difficulties of the government of the Roman Curia.
There are also official and favorable positions, such as that of Cardinal Paolo Lojudice, archbishop of Siena, who praised the division into groups when speaking to Vatican News, saying this favors debate.