Survey Shows More Consultation with Laity Among Bishops

Catholic News Service [Washington DC]
Downloaded March 25, 2004

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- U.S. Catholic bishops are making greater use of consultative bodies that include laity and are more supportive of diocesan pastoral councils and parish councils than they were six years ago, according to a new survey of bishops. The bishops' Committee on the Laity released its "Report on Diocesan and Parish Pastoral Councils" March 23 in Washington, based on a survey conducted in December among the 195 heads of U.S. dioceses or eparchies. The response rate was 57 percent, with 107 responses from Latin-rite dioceses and five from Eastern-rite eparchies. Results showed that 60 percent of dioceses or eparchies have a diocesan pastoral council, up from the 44 percent reported in a 1997 study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate and co-sponsored by the laity committee and the bishops' Committee on Pastoral Practices. Several other dioceses said they were "actively considering" setting up a diocesan council, according to an executive summary of the report. Other respondents "reported that prior attempts at such bodies had proven ineffective, were difficult to conduct given large or rural geographic areas nonconducive to travel, or had temporarily lapsed because of a change in episcopal leadership," the summary said.