In the Vineyard :: August 10, 2020 :: Volume 20, Issue 15
Vatican Parish Document Discusses Pastoral Care
and Guidelines for the Modern Church
In a document released by the Vatican on July 20th, the Congregation for Clergy sought to clarify the role of lay men and women for a changing Church as well as discussing how to shape parishes for the modern world. The 22-page publication does not introduce any legislation, but should serve as a guide for parishes and dioceses currently restructuring or with restructuring in their future. It describes the roles of deacons, consecrated men and women, and laity in areas with a shortage of priests.
The guidance discusses how these important participants in pastoral care will be directed by ordained priests, acting as moderators of pastoral care, although they will not have the duties and rights of a parish priest. It details a naming convention for these types of positions, explaining that they should not be designated as pastors or other similar titles, but rather pastoral associates, among other names.
The document overall discusses how laypeople are called “to make a generous commitment to the service of the mission of evangelization,” and that these vocations are integral to the church.
Another message in the guidance regards the reform of parish and diocesan structures. It calls for the inclusion of laypeople when considering parish closings or mergers. Legitimate reasons for suppressing a parish do not include what the Congregation regards as temporary or reversible situations, including a lack of diocesan clergy, demographic decline, or financial difficulties.
In addition to the instructions about parish restructuring, the document states that priests should be assisted by a finance council of at least three people in addition to the priest himself. The finance council should create a report yearly to be presented to the bishop and shared with the parish community. Another recommendation was to make parish collections anonymous, to encourage parishioners to donate what they are able or feel is just, rather than responding to an obligation. Other similar guidelines followed, with the document indicating that it is vitally important to not “commercialize” sacraments or indicate that sacraments can or need to be bought.
For VOTF’s statement on financial accountability, please see here.
To read VOTF’s position on women’s roles in the church, please see here.
For VOTF’s position on clericalism, please see here.
News from National
VOTF's 2020 Conference Is Online; Please Join Us!
The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has affected Voice of the Faithful similarly to other organizations planning to hold events during 2020. Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the well-being of our members and supporters, Voice of the Faithful will present an online Zoom conference for 2020. The online Zoom 2020 VOTF Conference: Visions of a Just Church will take place Oct. 3. Mark your calendars and join us as we seek visions of what a Church that is just for all the faithful would look like.
Presently scheduled to speak are two well-known Catholic scholars: Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., an internationally recognized scholar in Catholic studies and women’s roles in the Church and advocate of an ordained women’s diaconate, and Fr. Richard Lennan, professor of systematic theology and Professor Ordinarius in the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College.
The cost for attending VOTF’s online Zoom 2020 Conference is just $50.
Fr. Bob Bonnot, executive director of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and a member of VOTF, considers the distinction between “Church-ianity” and “Christ-ianity” in this excerpt from his book Jesus as Priest for Our Time: According to the Order of Melchizedek.
Because Canon Law governs [the Church] and is rarely revised, because currently many if not most rectors of seminaries are trained in Canon Law rather than theology, and because the Catechism of the Catholic Church is seen by many as the primary and final expression of the Church's teaching, at least for now, the post-Vatican II conceptual struggle over priesthood for the hearts and minds of both priests and people continues. One author suggests it is a struggle between "Church-ianity" and "Christ-ianity," which in turn gives rise to churchy priests vs. Christly priests. Church-ianity is religion that is more focused on the institution than on Christ, and its function is more concerned with people's membership than with people's relationship with Christ. Christ-ianity is focused on Christ and helping people live in deep relationship with Christ.
Involved in this struggle over how to understand priesthood are these questions, among others:
- Do we see faith being mediated through ordained people rather than as immediate contact of our soul with God through the Word and the Spirit?
- Do we relate to Jesus through sacraments or person-to-person helped by sacraments?
- Do we base our lives on our knowledge of Church and its requirements or on our relationship with Jesus, his teaching, his example, and his Spirit's inspiration?
- Do we accent the Church's orthodoxy (right teaching) and orthopraxy (right practice) more than relationship with Jesus?
- Do we let the Church carry our personal relationship with God or do we carry that relationship ourselves, each of us, with the Church's sacramental support?
The Word mediated through clerics, priests, generates Church-ianity. Direct experience of the Word and the Spirit exercising God's power in our lives, which we encounter and learn to recognize with the guidance and help of ministers, generates Christ-ianity.
With Church-ianity comes churchiness and all the folderol of clericalism! With Christ-ianity comes the vitality of a life of love and the focus on the world that is at the heart of God's love and the object of God's reign.
How both priests and people conceive and understand those ordained -- the Church's clerics, whether deacons, priests, or bishops, but especially priests -- and priesthood (whether sacerdos, presbyter, parochus, or pastor), and the role of the of the ordained is of fundamental importance. It makes an enormous difference for how the Church understands herself and how Catholic people, whether baptized and confirmed or ordained, understand themselves as Christians, as Catholics, and as persons in Christ.
By baptism, we are all priests as well as prophets and servant-kings. Currently the struggle in the United States is dysfunctionally polarized between a cultic understanding and a servant-leader understanding of priesthood. Priests of the Vatican II era are grounded in the servant-leader model while those more recently trained and ordained seem largely to have emerged from a cultic mold. Many of them have adopted that understanding and the clerical accents that accompany it.
This review [Chapter 2 in book] of several understandings of priesthood leaves us with this critical question: Which best fits the data, our Church's long experience? Each concept shared in this chapter has significant implications. Which is the true understanding and view, the one that puts us in touch with what is real? No single concept seems fully adequate. Which, if any, deserves pre-eminence? Should any single concept dominate?
From Jesus as Priest for Our Time: According to the Order of Melchizedek, Bernard Bonnot, 2020; available on Amazon (in both print format and Kindle).
Pope Appoints Women to Previously All-Male Council
Pope Francis appointed six women to the Vatican’s finance council, the first women to be appointed to the previously all-male council. The council is composed of eight bishops and cardinals, and seven laypeople. These appointments are the most senior roles ever given to women in the Catholic Church.
All six appointees have significant and high-profile financial backgrounds, and all are European. The Council for the Economy was a creation of Pope Francis in 2014 to surveil the financial situation of the Vatican. The Pope heads this Council.
The appointees include Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof and Marija Kolak of Germany, Ruth Maria Kelly and Leslie Jane Ferrar of Great Britain, and Eva Castillo Sanz and María Concepción Osákar Garaicoechea of Spain. The seventh layperson is Alberto Minali, from Italy.
These appointments come months after Pope Francis’s appointment of Francesca Di Giovanni, an Italian lawyer, as undersecretary of multilateral affairs in the Secretariat of State, the first woman appointed to a management position in the office.
The number of women appointed to positions of responsibility in the Vatican reflect a changing trend in the demographics of those working in the Vatican: 22% of Holy See and Vatican City employees are women, compared to 17% in 2010. Women have been appointed as high as undersecretary. Other recent female appointees include deputy foreign minister, director of the Vatican Museums, deputy head of the Vatican Press Office, and four of the councilors to Synod of Bishops.
These new appointees have their work cut out for them, as they are starting their work among the financial challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their new roles reflect Pope Francis’s dedication to ensuring more women hold leadership positions in the Catholic Church. But unfortunately, the Pope has not moved any closer to opening the door for female clergy.
For VOTF’s statement on financial accountability, please see here.
To read VOTF’s position on women’s roles in the church, please see here.
Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Former Vatican ambassador to stand trial in Paris on charges of ‘sexual aggression’ against four men
“The former Vatican nuncio in France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, 75, will stand trial in Paris on Nov. 10 on charges of alleged ‘sexual aggression’ against four men, Agence France-Press and other French media, including Le Monde, reported today, based on information from judicial sources. It is the first time in the modern history of papal diplomacy that a nuncio of the Holy See will stand trial in a civil court.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
Church in Argentina is making a ‘change in mentality’ on clerical sexual abuse
“Two major archdioceses in Argentina are facing allegations of wanting to ‘replace the state’ by creating a commission to receive allegations of clerical sexual abuse, but one expert says civil law and canon law aren’t competitors for justice. ‘Always, every case, the law of the State wherever the abuse happens, must be followed and respected,’ said Maria Ines Franck, the executive secretary of the Pastoral Council for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults of the Argentine bishops’ conference.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com
A Church that Is poor? Money, sectarianism, & Catholic tradition
“What to make of the fact that the Catholic Church received $1.4 billion from the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program? The remarks from Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley seem to suffice. As he put it, the ‘Catholic Church’ in this case encompasses the hundreds of individual Catholic dioceses, parishes … Yet at the same time, we should remain mindful about the constitutional and political issues concerning the relationship between Church and state, and the continued need for financial accountability and transparency in light of the links between the sexual-abuse crisis and financial mismanagement in Catholic institutions.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal
Latin Americans press fight against clerical sexual abuse
“Public Mass might have stopped across much of the world during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but several aspects of the life of the Church have continued, including efforts to prevent clerical sexual abuse in Latin America … ‘Nowhere have I encountered the level of destruction I found within the Church,’ said Chilean laywoman Maria Josefina Martinez Bernal, a member of the National Council on Abuse Prevention and Victims Accompaniment of the Chilean bishops conference since 2011, and a member of the Fundacion para la Confianza, an NGO founded by three survivors of former Chilean priest Fernando Karadima.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com
Is child abuse now just more hidden from view?
“Authorities have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of child abuse cases being reported, but they aren’t viewing it as good news. Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic and Jamie Rossow, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan, say they suspect that child abuse is actually up and is just not being reported. They said this is occurring not just locally but all across the country.” By Julie Swidwa, Herald Palladium
Papal envoy to meet women who ‘applied’ to be priests, bishops
“‘We’re working for equality of all baptized Catholics, and we understand that in a very broad way,’ she (Alix Bayle, a representative of the coalition) said, but insisted that it’s not just about the priesthood. ‘What should be clear is that we don’t just want ordination for women, and actually some of us don’t want that … but we do want a reformed Church, we want the Church to be reformed so that also laypeople have more responsibilities and actions, and that true synodality is lived.’ Bayle said there is a common feeling inside the coalition that the Catholic Church ‘is in urgent need to respond on many fronts,’ one of which is ‘asking for equality for all baptized women.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com
Racism and a Just Church
In the interests of considering all aspects of a just Church, we thought you might be interested in this information from AUSCP (Association of U.S. Catholic Priests) which has joined more than 150 other groups, including many Catholic organizations, in support of the Poor Peoples Campaign for National Moral Revival. The AUSCP put out a statement taking responsibility for past complicity and vowing to take positive actions to help bring about healing and justice for people of color. To read more from the AUSCP and their resources on fighting racism, click here.
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