Loyalty to the Pope DAILY CATHOLIC for December 9
The Vicar of Christ Speaks
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vol, 8
no. 48

Gif Animation Photos of Holy Father used with permission of EWTN

INTRODUCTION: With the release on November 13th of the document on the respective duties of priests and lay people, especially in parish life and ecause of its importance and need for dissemination, we will take the next several issues to bring you this document in installments, signed by the heads of the Congregation for the Clergy, Pontifical Council for the Laity, Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Congregation for Bishops, Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. It was approved by the Holy Father on August 13 this year and signed two days later on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and released publicly November 13th, the feast of Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini, a saint known for education. Education on these guidelines is necessary for all parishes at every level. Therefore, we bring you the Holy See's complete document in installments. We are foregoing putting the sources in the text as we have done for the first eleven installments since many complained it was difficult reading. Therefore, to keep the flow going we will put sources in a separate file you can click on.

THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS
on the Role of the Laity

INSTRUCTION on Certain Questions regarding the Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest

Thirteenth installment: PRACTICAL PROVISIONS - Article 4
The Parish Priest and the Parish
The non-ordained faithful, as happens in many worthy cases, may collaborate effectively in the pastoral ministry of clerics in parishes, health care centres, charitable and educational institutions, prisons, Military Ordinariates etc. Provisions regulating such extraordinary form of collaboration are provided by Canon 517, 2.

1. The right understanding and application of this canon, according to which "si ob sacerdotum penuriam Episcopus dioecesanus aestimaverit participationem in exercitio curae pastoralis paroeciae concredendam esse diacono aliive personae sacerdotali charactere non insignate aut personarum communitati, sacerdotem constitat aliquem qui, potestatibus facultatibus parochi instructus curam pastoralem moderetur", requires that this exceptional provision be used only with strict adherence to conditions contained in it. These are:
a) ob sacerdotum penuriam and not for reasons of convenience or ambiguous "advancement of the laity", etc.;
b) this is participatio in exercitio curae pastoralis and not directing, coordinating, moderating or governing the Parish; these competencies, according to the canon, are the competencies of a priest alone.

Because these are exceptional cases, before employing them, other possibilities should be availed of, such as using of the services of retired priests still capable of such service, or entrusting several parishes to one priest or to a coetus sacerdotum. (75) In any event, the preference which this canon gives to deacons cannot be overlooked.

The same canon, however, reaffirms that these forms of participation in the pastoral care of parishes cannot, in any way, replace the office of Parish Priest. The same canon decrees that "Episcopus dioecesanus (...) sacerdotem constituat aliquem qui potestatibus et facultatibus parochi instructus, curam pastoralem moderetur." Indeed, the office of Parish Priest can be assigned validly only to a priest (cf. Canon 521, 1) even in cases where there is a shortage of clergy. (76)

2. In the same regard, it must be noted that the Parish Priest is the Pastor proper to the parish entrusted to him (77) and remains such until his pastoral office shall have ceased. (78)

The presentation of resignation at the age of 75 by a Parish Priest does not of itself (ipso iure) terminate his pastoral office. Such takes effect only when the diocesan Bishop, following prudent consideration of all the circumstances, shall have definitively accepted his resignation in accordance with Canon 538, 3 and communicated such to him in writing. (79) In the light of those situations where scarcity of priests exists, the use of special prudence in this matter would be judicious.

In view of the right of every cleric to exercise the ministry proper to him, and in the absence of any grave health or disciplinary reasons, it should be noted that having reached the age of 75 does not constitute a binding reason for the diocesan Bishop to accept a Parish Priest's resignation. This also serves to avoid a functional concept of the Sacred Ministry. (80)

NEXT ISSUE: PRACTICAL PROVISIONS - Article 5 The Structures of Collaboration in the Particular Church

December 9, 1997 volume 8, no. 48
VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS



December 1997