Priest: Pastoral council shouldn’t replace priest

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MANILA, Oct. 6, 2014— The parish pastoral council should not replace the parish priest, asserts a member of the clergy.

“Yes, lay people are their collaborators, but the latter should not be calling the shots,” says , Fr. Jerome R. Secillano, parish priest of Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro Parish in Sampaloc, Manila in his essay “Clericalizing the Laity.”

Fr. Jerome R. Secillano, parish priest of Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro Parish in Sampaloc, Manila says the laity should focus on evangelizing their families and work places. (Photo: Oliver Samson)

Citing “The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community”, a document issued by the Congregation for the Clergy in 2002, Secillano says,”It would…be senseless to consider the pastoral council as an organ replacing the parish priest in his government of the parish, or as one which, on the basis of a majority vote, materially constrains the parish priest in his direction of the parish (26, 2).”

This instruction, he explains, clearly states it is the pastor who should be in charge of the church or of the parish

According to the document, the basic task of such a council is to serve, at institutional level, “the orderly collaboration of the faithful in the development of pastoral activity which is proper to priests”.

While he acknowledges there are priests who cannot stand up to the challenges of parish administration, Secillano points out this should not be an excuse for lay people to take over church affairs to the scandal of their priests in particular, and at the expense of faith and morals in general.

“For objectivity’s sake, it is true that there are priests whose pastoral sense is suspect. Some are lousy administrators. Others do not even have the basic social skills needed in reaching out to parishioners. More seriously, there are corrupt priests and there are those who violate their promise of celibacy. But should lay people work to remove the priests through signature campaign or rallies thus shaming the latter? Or should the pastoral councils take over the administration of the parish?” Secillano added.

According to the priest, lay people whould leave “inner-church affairs” to priests and should instead focus on evangelizing their families, workplaces and communities.

“Wouldn’t it be nobler for them if they become models of holiness in their chosen profession no matter what that is?” Secillano asks. (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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