The November publication of the Instruction on collaboration by the laity in the priestly ministry calls into question certain practices which are widespread in Germany, such as the government of parishes by pastoral councils in which lay people exercise control over the parish priests. Such a system is "incorrect," according to a paper published in L'Osservatore Romano yesterday, and they pose a "difficult pastoral problem."
The first in a projected series of articles was written by Winfried Aymans, rector of an Institute for Canon Law in Munich. He pointed out that the Instruction was approved by Pope John Paul "in forma specifica"-- an indication that any practices which run contrary to the Instruction should be discontinued.
Acknowledging that in many cases the involvement of lay people in Church ministry has been experimental, or has been undertaken in response to emergencies, the author said that the Instruction was a warning that "abuses begin when exceptional solutions become alternatives, transforming extraordinary competencies into ordinary ones, or when the limitations set forth for collaboration are not properly understood."