Eugene spoke of us as being the men of the bishops and he tried to assure that our ministry and presence in the diocese be in communion with the ministry and spirit of the bishop. However, because of the papal approbation, in cases where the bishop’s wish was not in keeping with our Rule or spirit, then it was the Congregation that was to receive the benefit of the doubt.
It is of the nature of any Institute, approved by the Holy See, that the priests who join it must follow the obedience professed in this Institute, in all that is incompatible with that of the Bishop.
Otherwise, it would not be, and it would never have been in the power of the Sovereign Pontiffs to approve any religious body or congregation in a manner so as to exempt priests from obedience to the Bishop. Religious remain really and in fact under the rule of Ordinaries inasmuch as it is possible to remain so, in conformity with the religious Rule.
So, to be apt for confessions, they are only approved ad hoc by the Ordinary. In the dioceses where they are established, they are perfectly submissive in everything which is of exterior discipline and the bishop can visit them, suspend them, and send them away from his diocese for all canonical causes which give him the right to do so in regard to any other of his priests. In the dioceses where they are not established, they cannot go there to exercise the holy ministry of the sacraments and the word of God if the bishop does not expressly call them. They do it then under his supervision and his correction when he judges it a propos; moreover, he has every freedom to come to an understanding with the superiors about the subjects whom he will employ for the work for which he has asked them; that is the limit of the authority of the bishop.
If he had the power to dispose of his diocesan subjects who have become Oblates, as if they were not bound by any other tie, the work itself would thereby be destroyed and pontifical authority would be rendered illusory….
Letter to Henri Tempier, 9 April 1826, EO VII n 235
Today, our Rule of Life upholds this principle: “Our love for the Church inspires us to fulfil our mission in communion with the pastors whom the Lord has given to his people; we accept loyally, with an enlightened faith, the guidance and teachings of the successors of Peter and the Apostles.” CC&RR, Constitution 6