Loyalty to the Pope DAILY CATHOLIC for November 27
The Vicar of Christ Speaks
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vol, 8
no. 40

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.

on the Role of the Laity

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

ninth installment: THEOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES part five
4. The Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in Pastoral Ministry
      Among the various aspects of the participation of the non-ordained faithful in the Church's mission considered by the conciliar documents, that of their direct collaboration with the ministry of the Church's pastors is considered.(44)
    (41: Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree Apostolicam actuositatem, n. 24.)
Indeed, "when necessity and expediency in the Church require it, the Pastors, according to established norms from universal law, can entrust to the lay faithful certain offices and roles that are connected to their pastoral ministry but do not require the character of Orders".(45)
    (45: John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici (30 December 1988), n. 23: AAS 81 (1989), p. 429.)
In this way, it is not one merely of assistance but of mutual enrichment of the common Christian vocation. This collaboration was regulated by successive post-conciliar legislation and particularly by the Codex Iuris Canonici.

     The Code, having referred to the rights and duties of all the faithful,(46)

    (46: Cf. C.I.C., canon 208-223.)
in the subsequent title devoted to the rights and duties of the lay faithful, treats not only of those which are theirs in virtue of their secular condition,(47)
    (47: Cf. ibid., canon 225, par 2; 226, 227, 231, par 2.)
but also of those tasks and functions which are not exclusively theirs. Some of these latter refer to any member of the faithful, whether ordained or not,(48)
    (48: Cf. ibid, canon 225, par 1; 228, par 2; 229, 231, par 1.)
while others are considered along the lines of collaboration with the sacred ministry of cleric.(49)
    (49: Cf. ibid, canon 230, par 2-3, for that which pertains to the liturgy; canon 228, par 1 in relation to other areas of sacred ministry; the last paragraph applies to other areas outside the ministry of clerics.)
With regard to these last mentioned areas or functions, the non-ordained faithful do not enjoy a right to such tasks and functions. Rather, they are "capable of being admitted by the sacred Pastors... to those functions which, in accordance with the provisions of law, they can discharge" (50)
    (50: ibid., can. 228, par 1.)
or where "ministers are not available... they can supply certain of their functions... in accordance with the provisions of law".(51)
    (51: ibid., canon 230, par 3; cf. 517, par 2; 776, 861, par 2; 910, par 2, 943, 1112.)

     To ensure that such collaboration is harmoniously incorporated into pastoral ministry, and to avoid situations of abuse and disciplinary irregularity in pastoral practice, it is always necessary to have clarity in doctrinal principles. Therefore a consistent, faithful and serious application of the current canonical dispositions throughout the entire Church, while avoiding the abuse of multiplying "exceptional" cases over and above those so designated and regulated by normative discipline, is extremely necessary.

     Where the existence of abuses or improper practices has been proved, Pastors will promptly employ those means judged necessary to prevent their dissemination and to ensure that the correct understanding of the Church's nature is not impaired. In particular, they will apply the established disciplinary norms to promote knowledge of and assiduous respect for that distinction and complementarity of functions which are vital for ecclesial communion. Where abusive practices have become widespread, it is absolutely necessary for those who exercise authority to intervene responsibly so as to promote communion which can only be done by adherence to the truth. Communion, truth, justice, peace and charity are all interdependent terms.(52)

    (52: Cf. Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, premiss of the Instruction Inaestimabile donum (3 April 1980), AAS 72 (1980), pp. 331-333.)

     In the light of the aforementioned principles, remedies, based on the normative discipline of the Church, and deemed opportune to correct abuses which have been brought to the attention of our Dicasteries, are hereby set forth.


November 27, 1997 volume 8, no. 40

November 1997