I love, love, LOVE my Archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl. He's the chairman of the US Bishop's Committee on Doctrine and he had an interesting metaphor for describing the Bishops teaching role on theological matters of the Catholic faith.
"In a tennis match, it is not the player who called the balls 'out of bounds' but the referee. The player may object that it was not his or her intention to hit the ball out of bounds. He or she may even question whether the ball is out of bounds. But it is the referee who must make the call. Otherwise, there can be no coherent game, no enjoyment of the match, no sense of progress in learning the sport; In short the 'tennis game" would devolved into a fruitless exchange of individuals hitting the ball at will."
... "So it is in academic theological investigation. If it is to be directed towards a fruitful deepening of our understanding, then it cannot be an exchange of individuals hitting the ball randomly. Once ideas are written and published by a theologian, they must stand on their own; it is the bishops who are entrusted with the office of referee, who must call play."(Catholic Standard, April 21, 2011 pg 14).