Church's Structure Is Not Political, Says John Paul II

Notes That Pastors and Faithful Have Different Roles

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 12, 2004 ( Church pastors must never be considered as simple executors of decisions derived from majority opinions, says John Paul II. Addressing a full assembly of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy, the Pope explained that the structure of the Church does not follow political models. The assembly Saturday focused on the relation between priests and laity, and on pastoral care at shrines.

«In the exercise of their office, the legitimate pastors must never be considered as simple executors of decisions derived from opinions arising from a majority in the ecclesial assembly,» the Holy Father said.

«The structure of the Church cannot be conceived by following simply human political models,» he added. «Its hierarchical constitution is based on the will of Christ and, as such, forms part of the ‘deposit of the faith,’ which must be preserved and totally transmitted through the centuries.»

The Pope explained that the Church is «a people that has Christ as head, the dignity and freedom of the children of God as condition, the old and always new precept of love as law, and the Kingdom of God as end.»

John Paul II emphasized that the «common priesthood of all the faithful differs essentially from the ministerial and hierarchical» priesthood.

«Both, however, are united in a close relationship and ordered to one another,» he noted. «Pastors have the task to form, govern and sanctify the People of God, while the lay faithful, together with them, form an active part of the mission of the Church, in a constant synergy of efforts, and in respect of the specific vocations and charisms.»

This collaboration is made concrete in «the various counsels provided by canonical ordering at the diocesan and parish level,» the Pope said. This involves «organizations of participation that give the possibility of cooperation for the good of the Church, keeping in mind the knowledge and competence of each one,» he affirmed.

«These structures, arising from indications of the [Second Vatican] Council, are in need of updating in their ways of acting and in the statutes, according to the norms of the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983,» the Holy Father said.

The criterion the Pope emphasized in this task was «to safeguard a balanced relation between the role of the laity and that which is proper to the diocesan ordinary or the parish priest.»

He asked the Congregation for Clergy to follow carefully «the evolution of these organs of consultation.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation