Bishop Accountability
(617) 254-0100 FAX (617) 783-2947

April 25, 2002

Dear Monsignor/Father:

His Eminence, Bernard Cardinal Law telephoned me from Rome yesterday
evening. He requested and authorized my writing this letter to you.

Cardinal Law has become aware of a proposal, which may have reached you
concerning the creation of an Association of Parish Pastoral Councils. He
asked me to call your attention to the following points:

1. The nature and purpose of Parish Pastoral Councils is set forth in
canon 536 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law:

(Para. 1) After the Diocesan Bishop has listened to the Presbyteral
Council and if he judges it opportune a pastoral council is to be
established in each parish; the pastor presides over it, and through it in
the Christian faithful along with those who share in the pastoral care of
the parish in virtue of their office give their help in fostering pastoral

(Para. 2) This pastoral council possesses a consultative vote only and
is governed by the norms determined by the Diocesan Bishop.

2. With reference to the norms established by the Bishop, which
govern Parish Pastoral Councils, your attention is called to those for the
Archdiocese of Boston in synodal session on November 27, 1988. These norms
clearly show that the role of the parish council remains exclusively within
the parish where it has been established and it is presided over by the
pastor of that parish.

Thus the purpose and objectives of the Parish Pastoral Council are to
assist the pastor in his leadership role within the parish.

There exist four canonically recognized bodies within the Archdiocese which
aid the Archbishop in his role of governance. These are the Presbyteral
Council, the College of Consultors, the Archdiocesan Finance Council, and
the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. The latter represents the People of God
of the Archdiocese (c. 512) and renders the proposed Association
superfluous and potentially divisive. Discussions have begun and will be
extended on the topic of how to make the canonically recognized groups more
effective in the Archdiocese.

While all the Christian Faithful possess "a true equality regarding dignity
and action...according to each one's own condition and function", this
equality is lived out within the hierarchical structure of the Church (LG
8; cc. 207 & 208). Within this structure bishops, priests and deacons
fulfill a special role in the functions of teaching, sanctifying and
governing (c. 1008).

My purpose in writing on this subject is to inform you that the Archbishop
does not endorse or recognize the proposed Association. As Pastor or
Parochial Vicar, you are not to join, foster, or promote this endeavor
among your Parish Pastoral Council members or the Community of the Faithful
at large (c. 273).

With my prayers and best wishes, I am

Yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Walter Edyvean
Moderator of the Curia

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