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. 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". 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, 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, 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, while others are
considered along the lines of collaboration with the sacred ministry of
cleric. 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"  or where "ministers are not available... they can
supply certain of their functions... in accordance with the provisions
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.
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.