Q. 1. I am associated with the Diocese of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, Canada. I noticed on the Diocesan website that there are many titles used to represent a variety of positions. These are: Pastor, Assistant Pastor, Priest Moderator, Pastoral Associates, YOuth Ministry Coordinators, Parish Life Director and Coordinator Home Ministry of Care. By these titles, it is difficult to determine who are the priests versus the lay persons. In some cases, the Pastoral Associates are females, therefore they cannot be priests. It is proper for the Diocese to use titles that closely resemble titles normally given to priests?
A. 1. On August 15, 1997, the Vatican released Instructions regarding the usage of titles in the Catholic Church. The following is the source:
INSTRUCTION ON CERTAIN QUESTIONS REGARDING THE COLLABORATION OF THE NON-ORDAINED FAITHFUL IN THE SACRED MINISTRY OF PRIEST
§ 3... "It is unlawful for the non-ordained faithful to assume titles such as "pastor", "chaplain", "coordinator", " moderator" or other such similar titles which can confuse their role and that of the Pastor, who is always a Bishop or Priest. (58)"
Should a non-Catholic visit the website, he or she could assume that all the above titles belongs to ordained ministers, males and females. They may not be aware that in the Catholic Church, there are no ordination of females as in the Protestant Churches. Consequently, non-Catholics may contact non-qualified persons (who hold vague titles) for information related to the Catholic Church. The titled person's inability to answer such inquiries may give a bad image of the Catholic Church, implying that some ministers (priests) are not too smart.
For this reason, it is of utmost importance that parishes be obedient to the Vatican, without exception, by not using titles that imply the role of a priest. It is also of utmost importance that Bishops monitor the usage of titles to ensure loyalty to the Vatican's document on the matter.