16. Apostolorum successores
Congregation for Bishops, Apostolorum successores,
"Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops."
This "Directory" is available at the
Vatican web site at: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cbishops/documents/rc_con_cbishops_doc_20040222_apostolorum-successores_en.html.
Pope John Paul II, during an audience on 24 January
2004 with Cardinal Giovanni Battista (Prefect of the Congregation) and Francesco
Monterisi (Secretary to the Congregation) approved the present Directory and
ordered its publication. It was published in Rome on 22 February 2004.
“The present Directory, an updated and
revised version of the one issued on 22 February 1973, has been prepared by
the Congregation for Bishops in order to offer to the “Shepherds of
Christ’s flock” a useful guide that will help them to exercise
more fruitfully every aspect of their complex and difficult pastoral ministry
in the Church and in the modern world. . . . Significantly, this Directory
is being published shortly after the promulgation of the Post-Synodal Apostolic
Exhortation Pastores Gregis, which brought together the ideas and
proposals of the Tenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops,
held in 2001 and devoted to a study of the episcopal ministry under the heading:
“The Bishop, minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the hope of
122. Forms of Preaching
a) The Homily. As an integral part of the liturgy,
which is the source and summit of the Church’s entire life (359), the
homily is the most excellent and, in a certain sense, the sum of all forms
of preaching. The Bishop should seek to expound Catholic truth in its fullness,
in simple, familiar language, suited to the capacities of his hearers, focusing
– unless particular pastoral reasons suggest otherwise – on the
texts of the day’s liturgy. He should plan his homilies so as to elucidate
the whole of Catholic truth.
b) Pastoral letters. On special occasions in
the life of the diocese, the Bishop should also propose doctrine by means
of pastoral letters and messages, addressed to the whole Christian community.
These may appropriately be read out in Churches and oratories and also distributed
in printed form among the faithful. In drafting these letters, the Bishop
may wish to enlist the help of his advisers, of the presbyteral council and,
if the case so warrants, of the diocesan pastoral council. These groups may
suggest topics to be treated, present-day objections to be refuted, or they
may point out issues arising in the diocese on which it is appropriate for
the Bishop to speak authoritatively.
181. Diocesan Pastoral Structures
In order to ensure that the curia is also equipped
to direct apostolic work (535), it is good to establish other offices or commissions,
temporary or permanent, when there are sufficient resources available. These
offices have the task of carrying out diocesan programmes and examining various
pastoral and apostolic initiatives (such as those in the area of the family,
education or the social apostolate). With the aid of the presbyteral and pastoral
councils of the diocese, the Bishop studies the proposals put forward by these
offices and makes the necessary decisions.
In order to determine which offices or commissions
to establish, the Bishop will evaluate the particular needs and the local customs
of the diocese, applying the guidelines of the Holy See and the recommendations
of the Episcopal Conference. Whichever administrative model is adopted, it is
important to avoid establishing and maintaining atypical structures of government
that somehow replace or compete with those envisaged in canon law, since this
would by no means promote the efficacy of pastoral governance. There is a corollary
at parish level: the pastoral council and the parish priest should fulfil their
respective roles effectively, avoiding any hint of congregationalism (536).
184. The Pastoral Council
Ideally, every diocese should establish a diocesan
pastoral council, although not bound to do so by canonical discipline, thus
expressing through this institution the participation of all the faithful, of
whatever canonical state, in the Church’s mission. The pastoral council
is composed of members of the faithful: clerics, members of institutes of consecrated
life and especially laity (556). It falls to the council, under the authority
of the Bishop, to “investigate and consider matters relating to pastoral
activity and to formulate practical conclusions” (557). Its statutes are
established and, when necessary, modified by the Bishop (558).
Even though the council does not, strictly speaking,
represent the faithful, it should truly reflect the entire portion of the People
of God which constitutes the particular Church. Its members should be chosen
“with consideration given to the different areas of the diocese, social
conditions and professions, and the role which they have in the apostolate whether
individually or jointly” (559).
All the members of the pastoral council should
be in full communion with the Catholic Church, outstanding in firm faith, good
morals and prudence (560). It is for the Bishop to decide the method of electing
members, by means of appropriate indications in the statutes: for example, by
entrusting to parishes and other institutions the right to propose candidates.
However, perhaps by the practice of confirming the election of members, the
Bishop reserves to himself the right to exclude those who do not appear suitable.
The Bishop convokes the council at least once
a year. He proposes the questions to be treated, he chairs the meetings, he
decides whether or not it is appropriate to publish the themes considered and
he determines how to reach conclusions (561). The council is therefore of a
consultative nature (562). It should always be characterized by proper respect
both for episcopal jurisdiction and for the autonomy of the faithful (as individuals
or in associations). It should never claim the authority to direct or coordinate
activities beyond its competence. Nevertheless, the Bishop should give due consideration
to the opinions of the members of the council insofar as it is an expression
of the responsible collaboration of the ecclesial community with his apostolic
The Bishop may propose themes for the council
to discuss in connection with the pastoral activity of the diocese (563): these
include the pastoral plan, various catechetical, missionary and apostolic initiatives,
ways of improving the doctrinal formation and sacramental life of the faithful,
assistance for the pastoral ministry of the clergy, and various means of raising
public awareness regarding concerns of the Church.
For maximum effectiveness, the meetings of the
council should be preceded by suitable preparation, arranged with the help of
the pastoral institutions and offices of the diocese. It is helpful if the Bishops
discuss the activity of diocesan pastoral councils at meetings of the Episcopal
Conference, so that each Bishop in his own diocese can profit from the experience
of others. The pastoral council ceases when a diocese is vacant (564) and it
may be dissolved by the Bishop when it does not fulfil the tasks assigned to
(535) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree
on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus, 27.
(536) Cf. Code of Canon Law, cc. 519, 536.(556) Cf. Code of Canon Law, c. 512
§ 1; JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, 45.
(557) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Decree on the Pastoral Office of
Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus, 27; Code of Canon Law, c. 511.
(558) Cf. Code of Canon Law, c. 513 § 1.
(559) Cf. Code of Canon Law, c. 512 § 2.
(560) Cf. Code of Canon Law, c. 512 § 1.
(561) Cf. Code of Canon Law, c. 514 § 1.
(562) Cf. ibid.
(563) Cf. Code of Canon Law, c. 511.
(564) Cf. Code of Canon Law, c. 513 § 2.
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