The recent Vatican instruction on pastoral care clarifies the responsibility of every member of the Church community to work together in the shared mission of evangelisation and warns against turning the parish into a mere provider of services, said Cardinal Beniamino Stella.
The document included ‘a warning signal’ against notions of the parish ‘as a ‘business’ that provides different kinds of services – sacramental, social, charitable – and not as a missionary community, a family’, in which everyone contributes his and her part according to their vocation, availability and abilities, said the cardinal, who is prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.
“Seen in this light, the priest would have to be assisted precisely in not getting lost in administration and bureaucracy, but rather to be focused on the priorities of his ministry – the Eucharist, proclamation of the Word, spiritual direction, confession, the promotion of charity, being close to the faithful, especially those most in need – and be accompanied with the assistance of and encouraged by the example of other members of the community,” he said.
The cardinal made his comments in an interview with Vatican Insider on 28th July. It came after a number of news articles and criticisms claimed that the congregation’s 22-page instruction somehow gave new and unprecedented powers to the laity or that its insistence a parish must be led by a priest was unsustainable or outdated.
Picture: A woman wearing a protective mask kneels to pray in between social distancing markers placed on pews in St Peter Parish in Quezon City, Philippines, on 7th June 2020. A Vatican document underlines how parishes are not ‘businesses’ that can be led by anyone, according to Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. (CNS photo/Eloisa Lopez, Reuters).