Other PC docs


The purpose of the parish pastoral council, as described in Canon 536, is the "fostering" of "pastoral activity" in the parish. Because the pastor is the proper shepherd of the parish, it follows that his pastoral council possesses a consultative vote only. In fact, the 1997 Instruction on Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest states that, "It is for the Parish Priest to preside at parochial councils. They are to be considered invalid, and hence null and void, any deliberations entered into, (or decisions taken), by a parochial council which has not been presided over by the Parish Priest or which has assembled contrary to his wishes" (Article, 5, § 3).

According to The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community, the 2002 Instruction of the Congregation for the Clergy, "The basic task of such a council is to serve, at institutional level, the orderly collaboration of the faithful in the development of pastoral activity which is proper to priests. The pastoral council is thus a consultative organ in which the faithful, expressing their baptismal responsibility, can assist the parish priest, who presides at the council, by offering their advice on pastoral matters. 'The lay faithful ought to be ever more convinced of the special meaning that their commitment to the apostolate takes on in their parish»; hence it is necessary to have «a more convinced, extensive and decided appreciation for 'Parish Pastoral Councils'. There are clear reasons for such: In the present circumstances the lay faithful have the ability to do very much and, therefore, ought to do very much towards the growth of an authentic ecclesial communion in their parishes in order to reawaken missionary zeal towards nonbelievers and believers themselves who have abandoned the faith or grown lax in the Christian life" (26,1).

"'All of the faithful have the right, sometimes even the duty, to make their opinions known on matters concerning the good of the Church. This can happen through institutions which have been established to facilitate that purpose: [...]the pastoral council can be a most useful aid...providing proposals and suggestions on missionary, catechetical and apostolic initiatives [..] as well as on the promotion of doctrinal formation and the sacramental life of the faithful; on the assistance to be given to the pastoral work of priests in various social and territorial situations; on how better to influence public opinion etc."[124]. The pastoral council is to be seen in relation to the context of the relationship of mutual service that exists between a parish priest and his faithful. It would therefore be senseless to consider the pastoral council as an organ replacing the parish priest in his government of the parish, or as one which, on the basis of a majority vote, materially constrains the parish priest in his direction of the parish (26,2).


"Private Letter on 'Pastoral Councils'" (Omnes Christifideles). Congregation for the Clergy (1973). http://www.pastoralcouncils.com/bibliography/vatican-documents/postconciliar/circular/

The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community. Instruction. Congregation for the Clergy [2002]. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cclergy/documents/rc_con_cclergy_doc_20020804_istruzione-presbitero_en.html

On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of the Priest. Instruction. Congregation for the Clergy and seven other dicasteries [1997]. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/laity/documents/rc_con_interdic_doc_15081997_en.html

A thorough treatment of the subject can be found in Mark F. Fischer, Pastoral Councils in Today's Catholic Parish (Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications - Bayard, 2001), ISBN 1-58595-168-4. Mark Fischer has created a website: http://www.PastoralCouncils.com 


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