Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ecclesiae de Mysterio - On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest - Conclusion

Article 13

Necessary Selection and Adequate Formation
Should it become necessary to provide for "supplementary" assistance in any of the cases mentioned above, the competent Authority is bound to select lay faithful of sound doctrine and exemplary moral life. Catholics who do not live worthy lives or who do not enjoy good reputations or whose family situations do not conform to the teaching of the Church may not be admitted to the exercise of such functions. In addition, those chosen should possess that level of formation necessary for the discharge of the responsibilities entrusted to them.

In accordance with the norms of particular law, they should perfect their knowledge particularly by attending, in so far as possible, those formation courses organized for them by the competent ecclesiastical Authority in the particular Churches, (112) (in enviornments other than that of the Seminary, as this is reserved solely for those preparing for the priest hood). (113) Great care must be exercised so that these courses conform absolutely to the teaching of the ecclesiastical magisterium and they must be imbued with a true spirituality.


The Holy See entrusts this present document to the pastoral zeal of diocesan Bishops in the various particular Churches and to other Ordinaries in the hope that its application may produce abundant fruit for the growth, in communion, of sacred ministers and the non-ordained faithful.
The Holy Father reminds us that, "the particular gift of each of the Church's members must be wisely and carefully acknowledged, safeguarded, promoted, discerned and co-ordinated, without confusing roles functions or theological and canonical status". (114)

While on the one hand the numerical shortage of priests may be particularly felt in certain areas, on the other, it must be remembered that in other areas there is currently a flowering of vocations which augurs well for the future. Solutions addressing the shortage of ordained ministers cannot be other than transitory and must be linked to a series of pastoral programmes which give priority to the promotion of vocations to the Sacrament of Holy Orders. (115)

In this respect the Holy Father notes that in "some local situations, generous, intelligent solutions have been sought. The legislation of theCode of Canon Law has itself provided new possibilities, which however, must be correctly applied, so as not to fall into the ambiguity of considering as ordinary and normal, solutions that were meant for extraordinary situations in which priests were lacking or in short supply". (116)

The object of this document is to outline specific directives to ensure the effective collaboration of the non-ordained faithful in such circumstances while safeguarding the integrity of the pastoral ministry of priests. "It should also be understood that these clarifications and distinctions do not stem from a concern to defend clerical privileges but from the need to be obedient to the will of Christ, and to respect the constitutive form which he indelibly impressed on his Church". (117)
The correct application of these same directives, in the context of a living hierarchial communion, is advantageous to the lay faithful who are called to develop the rich potentiality of their specific identity and the "ever greater willingness to live it so as to fulfill one's proper mission". (118)

The impassioned appeal which the Apostle to the nations addresses to Timothy:" I charge thee in the sight of God and Jesus Christ, (...) to preach the Word, be urgent in season and out of season; reprove, entreat, rebuke (...) Be watchful in all things, fulfill thy ministry" (2 Tim 4, 1-5) which applies in a special way to the sacred pastors who are called by office, "to foster the discipline which is common to the whole Church (...) pressing for the observance of all ecclesiastical laws". (119)
This grave duty constitutes a necessary means by which the richness present in every state of ecclesial life can be correctly conformed to the promptings of the Spirit and by which communion becomes an effective reality in the daily journeying of the entire Community.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, to whose intercession this document is commended, assist all in understanding its purpose, and bring to fruitful completion those efforts, made in apostolic concern, to apply it faithfully.
All particular laws, customs and faculties conceded by the Holy See ad experimentum or other ecclesiastical authorities which are contrary to the foregoing norms are hereby revoked.
The Supreme Pontiff, in Audience of the 13th of August 1997 approved in forma specifica this present Instruction and ordered its promulgation.

Vatican City 15 August 1997, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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