Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Catholic Vocabulary – But Not Really

January 18th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen following is as it appeared in Rochester’s Catholic Courier in October. My comments are, as usual, in red. All emphasis is mine. Just for fun, why don’t we count the number of times they use the words “community” and “ministry.” It was been suggested to me that the diocese should define the difference between “ministry” and “min-ith-try.” If you don’t get it, say it out loud and picture rainbow flags.

The following are definitions of some commonly used pastoral-planning and parish-leadership terms:

Pastoral-planning terms
Cluster: A parish structure in which two or more parishes are served by a single pastor, pastoral administrator or pastoral team, but in which each parish retains its own identity according to both church and civil law. Ministry programs and staffing can be autonomous within each parish or may involve partnerships with other members of the cluster. Typically clusters move toward a more integrated ministry.
Faith community: A generic term for any Catholic community that gathers together for word, worship, community and service (what about Mass? Do they gather for that little thing?)— e.g., parishes, campus ministries, migrant ministries.
Parish: A community of the Christian (we’re not just Christian – we’re Catholic. Why are we afraid to say what we truly are?) faithful stably constituted whose pastoral care is entrusted to a pastor under the authority of the diocesan bishop.
Merged parish: Two or more parishes consolidated into a single entity under church and civil law.
Parish with multiple worship and ministry sites: Typically (????) this structure results from the combination of two or more parishes into a single parish. While the physical facilities of the previous parishes can be used as worship and/or ministry sites, there is only one parish and a single faith community.
Planning group: A term used within the Diocese of Rochester to refer to one of the 36 groups of parishes and faith communities organized since the program Pastoral Planning for the New Millennium began in 1997. Members of each planning group work together to develop and implement pastoral plans regarding parish configuration, utilization of priests and collaborative ministries. (That should be the job of the clergy. The Church is NOT a democracy. It never has, and never will be.)
Worship site: A term sometimes used to refer to a church and its surrounding property.

Parish-leadership terms
Parochial administrator: A priest appointed by the bishop and accountable to him for the pastoral care of a parish. Because he is not appointed for a designated term as is a pastor, this appointment has less stability than that of a pastor. (i.e. Our Lady of Victory)
Parochial vicar: A priest appointed by the bishop to assist a pastor in the pastoral care of a parish.
Pastoral leader: A generic term for the person who leads a parish — a pastor, parochial administrator or pastoral administrator. (Note how we started off in black and white terms, and now we’re drifting into the gray of Bishop Clark’s imagined thesaurus.)
Priest pastor: A priest appointed by the bishop and accountable to him for the pastoral care of a parish. Under canon law only a priest can be designated the “pastor” of a parish. (A phrase obviously thrown in to appease those people, ahem, us, who demand that the DoR follow Canon Law.)

Permanent deacon: A permanent deacon is trained and ordained for service to the diocese. Deacons are ministers of word, sacrament and charity. They proclaim the Gospel and preach; preside at baptisms, wakes, funerals and Communion services (these are of dubious legality – many dioceses have put restrictions on these); witness marriages; assist at Mass; and serve as ministers of charity and justice. (Was that really necessary to include? Enough fluff.) They also can serve as pastoral administrators.
Pastoral administrator: People (i.e. “anyone”) who are not priests but are appointed by the bishop to be accountable to him (not to the people or to God) for the pastoral care of a parish in accord with Canon 517.2. (From Ecclesiae de mysterio: ” The right understanding and application of this canon, according to which “Si ob sacerdotum penuriam Episcopus dioecesanus aestimaverit participationem in exercitio curae pastoralis paroeciae concredendam esse diacono aliive personae sacerdotali charactere non insignitae aut personarum communitati, sacerdotem constituat aliquem qui, potestatibus et facultatibus parochi instructus, curam pastoralem moderetur b) this is participatio in exercitio curae pastoralis and not directing, coordinating, moderating or governing the Parish; these competencies, according to the canon, are the competencies of a priest alone.” That means NOT running a parish, folks. The Diocese of Rochester can’t even follow the documents they cite. How pathetic is that?) Pastoral administrators serve as pastors in every way except that they do not celebrate the sacraments, which are reserved to those who are ordained. If judged qualified, a deacon could be appointed a pastoral administrator and thus could celebrate the sacraments of baptism and matrimony. (Isn’t this the obvious answer? Look at St. Stephen and the other early deacons – this discription is exactly what they were doing. They did not defer to nuns in albs or married women masquerading as priests.) Qualified (what qualifications?) women religious as well as qualified lay men and women also can be appointed pastoral administrators. When a parish is led by a pastoral administrator, a priest is appointed by the bishop as sacramental minister to celebrate the sacraments, especially Eucharist (again, they’re afraid to use the word “Mass”). The pastoral administrator is not accountable to the sacramental minister, however, but rather to the bishop through a priest moderator. (What sense does this make? This means that a lay person, with minimal education in the Church could actually tell a priest how to celebrate the Mass. We have seen this truly enough at Good Shepherd, Guardian Angels, Saint Anne, Our Lady of Lourdes, etc . . . ad infinitem.) The sacramental minister, working in collaboration with the pastoral administrator, also is accountable to the bishop. (Isn’t that obvious?)
Priest moderator: The priest appointed by the bishop to fulfill the canonical need for each parish to have a pastor.(I have a suspicion that no priest with true and undaunted courage has been appointed to this role. A toothless tiger, indeed.)
Sacramental minister: A priest assigned by the bishop to provide sacramental ministry for a parish that is led by a pastoral adminis
trator. (Mass. Say the word already. It’s what the Church is here for. Mass.)
This is most often a part-time assignment given to retired priests or those who are performing full-time jobs within the diocese, either at the Pastoral Center or in a parish. In some cases, a sacramental minister is assigned full time to a parish.

Rochester is so absolutely backwards. Only a diocese as twisted as Rochester could willingly conceive of this kind of rhetoric. St. John Fisher, pray for us!



3 Responses to “Catholic Vocabulary – But Not Really”

  1. avatar Persis says:

    "What sense does this make? This means that a lay person, with minimal education in the Church could actually tell a priest how to celebrate the Mass. We have seen this truly enough at Good Shepherd, Guardian Angels, Saint Anne, Our Lady of Lourdes, etc . . . ad infinitem."

    I could not agree more, and have never understood how a lay person could "trump" a priest in matters of liturgy & sacraments. Although, I know many lay people who have degrees equal to or surpassing some priests, so to say education is an issue does not have a lot of merit with me.

    In theory, I have no problem with lay administrators for the day-to-day operations of the parish. I have no problem with lay input into liturgy, but in the end it is the priest, and only the priest be he a pastor or sacramental minister, who should have the final say.

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    The lay administrator, for example, should have no say whatsoever as to whether the priest may offer a Mass in Latin, or use an incense, or actually give his own homily. The only thing I can see a layperson reasonably do with regard to "administering" is handling finances, hiring someone to plow the parking lot, and so on. But as to the liturgy, that is and always should be the realm of the ordained minister.

  3. avatar Gen says:

    Exactly. An administrator's duty is to run the parish, not the Mass. It would be more suitable to have degrees in business, accounting, and psychology than to have degrees in theology, liturgy, and philosophy.

    And I should like to note that a priest's education is absolutely unique. Most of the time, he will have been in school for at least 8 years before ordination, and many priests still go for more education after that. A master's in divinity or philosophy cannot trump ordination. I don't doubt that many lay people have education equal to priest's, but the thing is, they have no canonical authority with which to use it over a priest when a priest is present and perfectly able to run things. Only a small fraction of DoR administrators (lay administrators) are unobtrusive in the liturgy. Most think that their degrees that they received from community colleges and the like mean they are on equal footing with a priest, at least in terms of education – they are not. The courses offered in seminary are, on the whole, absolutely unique. To judge one's ability to run a parish on education alone is to overlook the vast experience of the priest, who will have had at least as much as any lay person. Lay people may accumulate an impressive list of degrees which appear to make them more educated than a priest, but they have never gone to seminary with the intent of being ordained. That's the key. Priests are ordained ministers of the Church.

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