TS 3: Introduction to the Magisterium
The Magisterium is not the Pope and the Bishops; it is a gift to the entire Church exercised, at times, by the Pope and the Bishops.
The Magisterium is not the sole authority possessed by the Church; the authority of the Church is two-fold:
1. the spiritual or teaching authority (i.e. the Magisterium)
2. the temporal authority (judgments of the prudential order)
Teachings fall under the Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Church. But decisions, rules, judgments, laws (other than the moral law) fall under the temporal authority of the Church.
The Pope is the successor to Peter; this is why he can exercise the teaching authority of the Church.
The Bishops are the successors to the other Apostles; therefore, they too can exercise the teaching authority of the Church.
Some persons incorrectly think that only the Pope can teach authoritatively, or that the Bishops role is merely to repeat the teaching of the Pope. Not true. Each Bishop is a true Apostle and has the ability and authority to exercise the Magisterium by virtue of his office as Bishop; he is not merely an assistant to the Pope.
The role of Cardinal is to assist the Pope in exercising the Pope's authority. Any authority given to a Cardinal by the Pope is temporary and revocable, and is a merely a participation in the Pope's authority. A Cardinal has no ground to stand on if he disagrees with the Pope on a matter of faith, morals, or temporal judgment. A Cardinal has no authority of his own; he participates in the Pope's authority.
However, the role of a Bishop as an Apostle is intrinsic to his ordination as a Bishop. If a Bishop disagrees with the Pope on a matter of faith, morals, or temporal judgment, the Bishop does have some ground to stand on; he is an Apostle ordained by God, not merely the assistant of the Pope. A Bishop has authority to make temporal decisions for his diocese and to exercise the ordinary non-infallible Magisterium, in and of himself, by virtue of his ordination to the Episcopate. A Bishop has authority of his own.
The Pope cannot prevent the Bishops as a body from participating in the teaching authority and temporal authority of the Church as true Apostles. The Pope has the authority to lead and correct the Bishops, but not to remove the body of Bishops from the role of Apostleship which they received at ordination.
Now an individual Bishop, if he departs from the true Faith, or from unity with the Pope or with the body of Bishops, can be removed by the authority of the Pope from his role as Apostle. But, while still faithful to the Church, a Bishop remains an Apostle in his own right.
The role of a priest is to assist the Bishop in exercising the Bishop's teaching and temporal authority. But any authority that a priest exercises as pastor of a parish is temporary and revocable; the authority that he exercises belongs to the Bishop, not to himself. A priest has no authority of his own; he participates in the Bishop's authority.
The structure of the Magisterium is that the Pope leads the body of Bishops just as Peter led the other Apostles. But the Bishops can teach and act authoritatively on their own. For the other Apostles went out to the whole world to preach the Gospel, they did not stay by Peter's side acting as mere assistants.