Paragraph 26 of Lumen Gentium
A buddy of mine was leading a discussion group on the Vatican II documents to help celebrate the Year of Faith and afterwards some of the class went out for dinner. Sitting on the table was the Flannery addition of the Vatican Council II documents. I person came by and tapped the book with his finger and said, “You should join our church. We actually live these documents.” The person was from a break away parish in our diocese.
“That’s interesting,” replied my friend, “because according to the very documents you site, it says very specifically that we must be connected to our bishop.”
The person did not believe him and went away angry. Today, in chapter 26 it says just that. The bishop with his fullness of orders is responsible for celebrating and making sure that Mass is celebrated within his diocese “from which the Church every derives its life and on which it thrives.” The priest legitimately celebrates Mass when he is connected to his bishop. (You can’t just decide to open a McDonalds on your own and neither can one open a Catholic Church similarly.) Each local “altar” the gathered faithful in so far as they are connected to their pastor who is unified with the local see are rightly called Church. In this we are called to unity in the Body of Christ. For this reason every Mass is regulated by the bishop who is the local shepherd of souls.
In fact, he is the overseer of all the sacraments – the first preference of the one who may celebrate. It is his job to sanctify and build up those within the diocese. He does this first of all by example – living a Christian life and evermore striving to be better at it.
At the other end of this (personal commentary here) his not doing well at this (at least in the opinion of certain circles) is not an excuse for breaking our part of the bargain. The Church has been filled with poor bureaucrats, misguided churchmen, and downright scoundrels. But the cure has never been to further cleave open divisions within the Church. One may be called to do more than the proverbial, “pray like he** and wait for the bodies to float by,” but division is never the answer.