Introduction to Parish Pastoral Councils
with Mark F. Fischer

1. The Origins of the Parish Pastoral Council

Everyone agrees that the parish pastoral councils had their origin in the Second Vatican Council.  But no Vatican II document calls for parish pastoral councils.  So how could Vatican II be their origin?  This unit will answer that question.

  • Listen to the audio lecture.

  • Take the quiz.

  • Read the passages from the Church's official documents.

  • For further information, consult Chapter 12 from Pastoral Councils in Today's Catholic Parish.

  • Reflect: How was the pastoral council idea extended from dioceses to parishes?

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A. Quiz on Council Origins

Answer the questions true or false.

  1. Vatican II's “Decree on Bishops” established pastoral councils.

  2. Pastoral councils investigate, consider, and legislate.

  3. In 1973, the Congregation for the Clergy extended “pastoral” councils to parishes.

  4. Vatican II’s “Decree on the Laity” recommended parish pastoral councils.

  5. The lay and pastoral apostolates are the same.

  6. The Laity Decree gave the only Vatican II recommendation for parish councils.

  7. The Vatican cites the Laity Decree as the foundation for pastoral councils.

B. Origins in Vatican II

To understand the origins of the PPC, we have to compare the two most important documents of Vatican II on the subject - the Decrees on the Laity and on Bishops.  Consider these documents as a series of concepts.  Which one speaks of "pastoral" councils?  Which speaks about "apostolate" councils?

C. Assignment from Pastoral Councils in Today's Catholic Parish:

Chapter 12: The New Code 

This chapter will help you see the differences between the Vatican II decrees and canon 536 of the Code of Canon Law.  Canon 536 is very brief.  But it speaks of the "pastoral" councils recommended at Vatican II.  The 1973 Circular Letter to the world's bishops extended the pastoral council idea to parishes (no. 12).

D. Reflection

Why did parish council pioneers cite Vatican II's Decree on the Laity, par. 26?  Why is this not the source for the parish pastoral council?  What is the Vatican II source for pastoral councils in general?  How was the teaching about diocesan pastoral councils extended in 1973 to parishes?  (500 words)

© 2008.  For more information about parish pastoral councils, email Mark Fischer.