Charism of Church Government Lies With Pastors, Says Cardinal Castrillón

Puts Role of the Laity in Perspective

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 13, 2004 (Zenit.org).- While the laity can collaborate in diocesan and pastoral councils, the charism of government to discern the community’s path “is the exclusive task of the bishop or pastor,” says a Vatican official.

Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos made that observation in the wake of last weekend’s plenary assembly of the Congregation for Clergy, of which he is prefect.

On Saturday, John Paul II received the members of the Vatican congregation at the conclusion of their plenary assembly, whose works focused on consultative bodies of the Church 20 years after their advent. The Pope emphasized the need to update these bodies, while respecting the diverse vocations and not confusing the structure of the Church with human political models.

“Consultative bodies are an expression of ecclesial communion,” Cardinal Castrillón explained Monday on Vatican Radio. “We are, therefore, united in the call that God has made to all; we, all members of the Church, are united in baptism. … There is a basic equality: called to be children of God.”

During the dicastery’s working sessions, “we have seen that these bodies represent great wealth because of the participation of the laity, who help pastors to see the human reality, the reality of the world,” the cardinal continued.

At Saturday’s audience John Paul II underlined the need to “safeguard a balanced relation between the role of the laity and that which is properly the competence of the diocesan ordinary or the parish priest.”

“The structure of the Church cannot be conceived according to simple human political models,” the Pope said. “Its hierarchical constitution is based on the will of Christ and, as such, forms part of the deposit of faith, which must be preserved and totally transmitted through the centuries.”

Cardinal Castrillón in his radio interview said: “We have experience that often there is talk in the name of the Spirit, but not a few times also in the name of the evil spirit, and it is the Pope for the universal Church, and the bishops for the local Churches, who must undertake this discernment. This is why the way of participating in the responsibility of the Church is different.”

“The faithful do so with the strength of baptism and confirmation, because the Holy Spirit is also present in them,” the cardinal continued. “But the charism of government to carry out this discernment, which can be regarded as certain for the whole community and, therefore, governing to direct the entire community, is the exclusive task of the bishop or pastor in the parish.”

He added: “It is precisely in this area where the problems are found, because there is no lack of councils that would like to have the power of government and, consequently, dominate the parish or the Church … [and] this, obviously, is not accepted by the Church.”

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