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You are here: Rubrics & Law > Ministers > On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest  Back one page.

Table of Contents
Table of ContentsPart I-III. The Indispensability of the Ordained MinisteryPart II, Article I. Need for Appropriate TerminologyEndnotes

Part I-IV. The Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in Pastoral Ministry

Among the various aspects of the participation of the non-ordained faithful in the Church's mission considered by the conciliar documents, that of their direct collaboration with the ministry of the Church's pastors is considered.[44] Indeed, "when necessity and expediency in the Church require it, the Pastors, according to established norms from universal law, can entrust to the lay faithful certain offices and roles that are connected to their pastoral ministry but do not require the character of Orders".[45] In this way, it is not one merely of assistance but of mutual enrichment of the common Christian vocation. This collaboration was regulated by successive post-conciliar legislation and particularly by the Codex Iuris Canonici.

The Code, having referred to the rights and duties of all the faithful,[46] in the subsequent title devoted to the rights and duties of the lay faithful, treats not only of those which are theirs in virtue of their secular condition,[47] but also of those tasks and functions which are not exclusively theirs. Some of these latter refer to any member of the faithful, whether ordained or not,[48] while others are considered along the lines of collaboration with the sacred ministry of cleric.[49] With regard to these last mentioned areas or functions, the non-ordained faithful do not enjoy a right to such tasks and functions. Rather, they are "capable of being admitted by the sacred Pastors... to those functions which, in accordance with the provisions of law, they can discharge" [50] or where "ministers are not available... they can supply certain of their functions... in accordance with the provisions of law".[51]

To ensure that such collaboration is harmoniously incorporated into pastoral ministry, and to avoid situations of abuse and disciplinary irregularity in pastoral practice, it is always necessary to have clarity in doctrinal principles. Therefore a consistent, faithful and serious application of the current canonical dispositions throughout the entire Church, while avoiding the abuse of multiplying "exceptional" cases over and above those so designated and regulated by normative discipline, is extremely necessary.

Where the existence of abuses or improper practices has been proved, Pastors will promptly employ those means judged necessary to prevent their dissemination and to ensure that the correct understanding of the Church's nature is not impaired. In particular, they will apply the established disciplinary norms to promote knowledge of and assiduous respect for that distinction and complementarity of functions which are vital for ecclesial communion. Where abusive practices have become widespread, it is absolutely necessary for those who exercise authority to intervene responsibly so as to promote communion which can only be done by adherence to the truth. Communion, truth, justice, peace and charity are all interdependent terms.[52]

In the light of the aforementioned principles, remedies, based on the normative discipline of the Church, and deemed opportune to correct abuses which have been brought to the attention of our Dicasteries, are hereby set forth.

Table of ContentsPart I-III. The Indispensability of the Ordained MinisteryPart II, Article I. Need for Appropriate TerminologyEndnotes

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You are here: Rubrics & Law > Ministers > On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest  Back one page.

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All contents © copyright, 1998-2014
The Catholic Liturgical Library
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