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Instruction on Certain Questions Regarding Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest (Ecclesiae de mysterio).

Written by a committee consisting of representatives of the Congregation for the Clergy, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. Approved “in forma specifica” by Pope John Paul II and promulgated on August 15, 1997. Available at the official Vatican web site.

(Article 5, §§ 2-5)

§ 2. “Diocesan and parochial Pastoral Councils and parochial Finance Councils, of which non-ordained faithful are members, enjoy a consultative vote only and cannot in any way become deliberative structures. Only those faithful who possess the qualities prescribed by the canonical norms may be elected to such responsibilities.
§ 3. “It is for the Parish Priest to preside at parochial councils. They are to be considered invalid, and hence null and void, any deliberations entered into (or decisions taken) by a parochial council which has not been presided over by the Parish Priest or which has assembled contrary to his wishes.
§ 4. “Diocesan councils may properly and validly express their consent to an act of the Bishop only in those cases in which the law expressly requires such consent.”
§ 5. “Given the local situation Ordinaries may avail themselves of special study groups or of groups of experts to examine particular questions. Such groups, however, cannot be constituted as structures parallel to diocesan presbyteral or pastoral councils nor indeed to those diocesan structures regulated by the universal law of the Church in Canons 536, § 1 and 537. Neither may such a group deprive these structures of their lawful authority. Where structures of this kind have arisen in the past because of local custom or through special circumstances, those measures deemed necessary to conform such structures to the current universal law of the Church must be taken.”