Seminary professor: Clergy governance in church serves lay vocation

Catholic San Francisco

April 1, 2019

By Nicholas Wolfram Smith

Dominican Father Pius Pietrzyk, an assistant professor at St. Patrick’s Seminary & University and a canon lawyer, discussed governance in the church with Catholic San Francisco in a March 29 interview at the seminary in Menlo Park. (Photo by Nicholas Wolfram Smith/Catholic San Francisco)

While the abuse crisis has shaken trust in the church, Dominican Father Pius Pietrzyk, an assistant professor of pastoral studies and chair of the Pastoral Studies Department at St. Patrick’s Seminary & University, told Catholic San Francisco that the church’s governance structure is fundamentally sound.

“Canon law reserves governance in the church to clergy, while permitting laity to cooperate in that governance,” said Father Pietrzyk, who is also a canon and civil lawyer.

Governance in the church involves “the authority to issue binding decisions on a community,” whether in a legislative, executive or judicial form, Father Pietrzyk said.

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