History of Councils

Some people regard the Vatican II “Decree on the Laity” as the basis of pastoral councils.  A closer look shows this to be untrue.

The "Decree on the Apostolate of Bishops" from Vatican II was the origin of the pastoral council.

The Vatican II "Decree on the Apostolate of Bishops" was the origin of the pastoral council.

The “Decree on Bishops” is the Vatican II document that set the agenda for “pastoral” councils.  It said that they assist the pastors who consult them.  Pastors ask them to investigate some aspect of the community’s reality, reflect on it, and recommend their conclusions.  For more information, click on one of the links below.

  • Diocesan pastoral councils.  They are a good model for parish pastoral councils.
  • Early councils.  Councils in the 60s and 70s tried to do all things, but a council with a lean planning agenda does better.
  • Vatican II’s intent.  Pastoral councils were first recommended for bishops.  The concept was later extended to parish pastors.
  • Setting the agenda.  Councils should not merely react to the pastor, but they need clear direction in order to be effective.