Vatican on lay collaboration in priestly ministry: part 1.CATHOLIC INSIGHT STAFF
On November 13, 1997, the Vatican issued an instruction concerning the collaboration of the laity in the ministry of priests. Prepared by a Commission composed of six Vatican congregations and two pontifical councils Pontifical Council may refer to:
tr.v. or·dained, or·dain·ing, or·dains
a. To invest with ministerial or priestly authority; confer holy orders on.
b. To authorize as a rabbi.
2. ministry of priests and the ministry of lay people collaborating with them.
The priesthood involves a sacred power handed down from the apostles APOSTLES. In the British courts of admiralty, when a party appeals from a decision made against him, he prays apostles from the judge, which are brief letters of dismission, stating the case, and declaring that the record will be transmitted. 2 Brown's Civ. and Adm. Law, 438; Dig. 49. 6. , which cannot be passed on except through ordination. Though pastors can entrust to the laity certain offices and roles, there is no such thing as a "shared ministry," in which the lay faithful perform priestly priest·ly
adj. priest·li·er, priest·li·est
1. Of or relating to a priest or the priesthood.
2. Characteristic of or suitable for a priest. roles: "The ministerial priesthood is absolutely irreplaceable." There is a common priesthood of all the faithful; but the ministerial priesthood differs in essence from that of the laity.
In situations of emergency, such as where there is a shortage of priests or in mission territories or situations of persecution, the faithful may be called upon to assume specific duties regarding liturgical functions. But the exercise of such tasks does not make pastors out of the lay faithful.
Some abuses to be avoided
* "It is unlawful for the non-ordained faithful to assume titles such as `pastor,' `chaplain,' `coordinator,' or `moderator', titles which can confuse their role and that of the pastor, who is always a bishop or priest."
* preaching in churches or oratories by the non-ordained faithful can be permitted only in exceptional circumstances and according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. criteria laid down by the Conference of Bishops. The teaching and instruction by lay catechists is highly commended.
* in eucharistic celebrations deacons and non-ordained lay persons may not pronounce prayers, especially the eucharistic prayer, or any other parts of the Mass reserved for the celebrant priest. Nor may the laity use sacred vestments reserved to priests or deacons.
* "Extraordinary ministers may distribute Holy Communion at eucharistic celebrations only when there are no ordained ministers present, or when those ordained ministers present at a liturgical celebration are truly unable to distribute Holy Communion. They may also exercise this function at eucharistic celebrations where there are particularly large numbers of the faithful and which would be excessively prolonged because of an insufficient number of ordained ministers to distribute Holy Communion." (One assumes, for example, that laymen should not assist the priest in giving out communion when there are only thirty or forty people in the church.)
* canonical norms permit the non-ordained faithful to be designated as extraordinary ministers of Baptism, where there is no ordinary minister available; but care should be taken not to allow too extensive an interpretation of this provision.
* the pastoral council Introduction
In Catholic dioceses and parishes, Pastoral Councils may be established by the diocesan Bishop or pastor. They are consultative bodies which serve to advise them regarding pastoral issues. is "consultative," not "deliberative de·lib·er·a·tive
1. Assembled or organized for deliberation or debate: a deliberative legislature.
2. Characterized by or for use in deliberation or debate. ," and the priest pastor must "preside pre·side
intr.v. pre·sid·ed, pre·sid·ing, pre·sides
1. To hold the position of authority; act as chairperson or president.
2. To possess or exercise authority or control.
The conclusion of this document says that "The Holy See entrusts this present document to the pastoral zeal of diocesan bishops A bishop in charge of a diocese. These are to be distinguished from suffragan bishops, assistant bishops, coadjutor bishops, Auxiliary Bishops, or metropolitans or primates. . . . in the hope that its application may produce abundant fruit for the growth, in communion, of sacred ministers and non-ordained faithful."
Before the Second Vatican Council Noun 1. Second Vatican Council - the Vatican Council in 1962-1965 that abandoned the universal Latin liturgy and acknowledged ecumenism and made other reforms
Vatican Council - each of two councils of the Roman Catholic Church (1962 - 1965) it was unknown for anyone but a priest to read the Scriptures or give Communion at Mass. After the Council, a great proliferation proliferation /pro·lif·er·a·tion/ (pro-lif?er-a´shun) the reproduction or multiplication of similar forms, especially of cells.prolif´erativeprolif´erous
n. of lay collaborators in the work of priests took place. Especially in the 1970s, the Vatican issued dozens of Notes, Rescripts RESCRIPTS, civ. law. The answers of the prince at the request of the parties respecting some matter in dispute between them, or to magistrates in relation to some doubtful matter submitted to him.
2. , Letters, Decrees, Replies, Directories, and Instructions, all permitting or regulating the collaboration by lay faithful in the ministry of priests. After some thirty years of this new ecclesial Ec`cle´si`al
a. 1. Ecclesiastical. experience, the Vatican has taken note of difficulties, abuses, and deviations in this context. They were studied at a Vatican symposium in 1994, and a draft was sent to bishops for comments. The Instruction of November 13, 1997 is the result.
It is unusually weighty, having been co-signed by eight major Vatican departments, not just by the ones for liturgy or doctrine. It is addressed especially to bishops, (and intribuingly uses a number of Latin phrases This page lists direct English translations of common Latin phrases, such as veni vidi vici and et cetera. Some of the phrases are themselves translations of Greek phrases, as Greek rhetoric and literature were highly regarded in Ancient Rome when Latin rhetoric and expressions without giving their translation). It refrains from alluding to any distinction between women and men. It has fully 119 endnotes, in a strong display of precedent and teaching - mostly from post Vatican II Noun 1. Vatican II - the Vatican Council in 1962-1965 that abandoned the universal Latin liturgy and acknowledged ecumenism and made other reforms
Second Vatican Council
Vatican Council - each of two councils of the Roman Catholic Church documents of the Holy See (Scripture quotations are frequent, but are identified within the text). The significant motu proprio A motu proprio is a papal rescript in which the clause motu proprio (Latin, "of his own accord") is used, signifying that the provisions of the rescript were decided by the Pope personally and not by a cardinal or other advisors. of Paul VI Paul VI, 1897–1978, pope (1963–78), an Italian (b. Concesio, near Brescia) named Giovanni Battista Montini; successor of John XXIII. Prepapal Career
The son of a prominent newspaper editor, he was ordained in 1920. which established the permanent ministry of lector and acolyte in the Church, and this for men only, is not mentioned but, of course, remains in force.
What is the main concern of this Instruction? It seems to be a "downgrading of the priesthood, together with a clericalization of the laity" (Vatican press release), caused by excessive reliance on lay helpers in the liturgy.
Why is this blurring of the distinction between priest and lay persons a serious concern? Because it distorts the true picture of the Church, as object of our faith and aspect of the mystery of Christ.
The Instruction elaborates the theology of this dimension of the Church and also recalls some practical limits to the collaboration of the lay faithful with the priest, for the good of both because each group has its own tasks. No new teaching or prohibition is presented.
What, in brief, is the theology underlying this care to distinguish the priest from the lay faithful? It is this: God has sent His Son Jesus not only to be our Saviour but also as our High Priest. Jesus transmits his priesthood to his Church, through the Sacrament of Baptism. All believers are a "holy priesthood" offering spiritual sacrifices (1Pat. 2:4-10). All are called to holiness.
Besides this "common priesthood," there exists a "ministerial priesthood", whereby Christ constitutes some members as "teachers, dispensers of the mysteries and pastors". Thus the Holy Spirit enables them to help all the Church to exercise the common priesthood. This ministerial priesthood is rooted in succession from the Apostles and is vested with a "sacred power" to act in the person of Christ the Head and the Shepherds.
It is a priesthood of service: by means of authoritative preaching of God's word, administering sacraments, and pastoral direction (teach, sanctify sanc·ti·fy
tr.v. sanc·ti·fied, sanc·ti·fy·ing, sanc·ti·fies
1. To set apart for sacred use; consecrate.
2. To make holy; purify.
3. , govern). This service derives from the very service rendered by Christ in his earthly life, who told his apostles "Love one another as I have loved you" (Jn. 13:34).
This threefold saving work of Christ, the only Saviour, is unique, and so consequently is the work of the priest, in whom Christ continues that work. Thus parts of that work cannot be split off and given to one not ordained, except for lawful collaboration in a limited way in a few functions. Where priests are lacking, it is a mistake to exaggerate the common priesthood of laity so as to diminish ministerial priesthood, reduce vocations to it still further, and dilute the nature and purpose of seminaries as places to form and train ministerial priests.
These then, in the very plan of Christ, are necessary for communities to exist as "Church". "The duty of fostering vocations falls on the whole Christian Community", a duty discharged "by living full Christian lives".
The proper evangelizing task of the lay faithful is distinctively secular, not "sacred". It involves bearing witness in all of one's life, and so go forth...proclaiming the Gospel in all situations, applying Christian principles to world problems, and, in general "permeating per·me·ate
v. per·me·at·ed, per·me·at·ing, per·me·ates
1. To spread or flow throughout; pervade: "Our thinking is permeated by our historical myths" ...secular reality with the evangelical spirit."
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