Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP, wrote on December 7, 2009:

One question that arises for me: does anyone address the idea of pastoral planning for a parish? That this might be a good idea so that with each new pastor there is a discernment and direction for whatever the term of the pastor or administrator is?
It might seem obvious but I wonder if it is.

Mark F. Fischer replied:

Pastoral planning is shorthand in the American Catholic Church for the threefold work of the council, the work of investigating, considering, and recommending its conclusions.  This was the basic teaching of the Vatican II Decree on the Office of Bishops (par. 27), which first recommended the “pastoral”-style council.

Many parishes, however, continue to understand their councils as coordinators of parish standing committees.  This is a misapplication of the language of the Vatican II Decree on the Laity (par. 26), which did not mention “pastoral” councils.  Instead it spoke of councils to assist the lay apostolate (which differs from the apostolate of pastors).

So when councils view themselves as the coordinators of standing committees, they are following the language of the Laity Decree, not the language of the Bishop’s Decree, which spoke of “pastoral” councils that investigate, consider, and recommend.

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