The Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy has published instructions on reforming parishes and restructuring dioceses to better serve their “singular mission of evangeli-zation.”
The 24-page document is called “The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church” and seeks to “foster a greater co-responsibility and collaboration among all the baptised,” according to Msgr Andrea Ripa, the under-secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy.
The under-secretary described the in-structional document as an “instrument with which to support and accompany the various projects of parish reform and diocesan restructuring.”
“One could say that the essence of the present Instruction is to recall that in the Church ‘there is a place for all and all can find their place,’ with respect to each one’s vocation,” Ripa said in an introduction to the document on July 20. The instruction, which does not introduce anything new to Church law, sets out provisions of the existing law and guidelines to preserve “the faithful from certain possible extremes, such as the cleri-calization of the laity and the secularization of the clergy, or from regarding permanent deacons as ‘half-priests’ or a ‘super laymen,’” the under-secretary wrote.
Signed by Pope Francis on June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the instru-ction promotes greater cooperation among different parish communities, emphasizing the need for the parish to be inclusive, evange-lizing, and attentive to the poor.
The document builds on the 2002 instruction from the Congregation of Clergy, “The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community,” and the Vatican interdicasterial instruction “Ecclesia de Mysterio,” on the collaboration of laity in the ministry of priests.
It includes instructions on the suppression or merging of parishes, ways of assigning pastoral ministry within the parish, the pastoral council, the sacraments, and the renewal or “conversion” of parish and diocesan structures.