Q. 1. What is the purpose of Pastoral Councils?
A. 1. Basically, the Parish Pastoral Council is a consultative body that makes recommendations to the pastor. According to Canon Law # 519:
"The pastor is the proper shepherd of the parish entrusted to him, exercising pastoral care in the community entrusted to him under the authority of the diocesan Bishop in whose ministry of Christ he has been called to share; in accord with the norm of law he carries out for his community the duties of teaching, sanctifying and governing, with the cooperation of other presbyters or deacons and the assistance of lay members of the Christian faithful."
The Parish Pastoral Council is a consultative body to the pastor. Pope Paul VI stated that the pastoral council is “to examine and consider all that relates to pastoral work and to offer practical conclusions on these matters, so that the life and activity of the People of God be brought into greater conformity with the Gospel.” (Paul VI, Ecclesiae Sanctae I, August 6, 1966, no. 16, in Flannery, editor, The Documents of Vatican II, p. 601)
The nature and purpose of pastoral councils are closely linked together. The Church has made a number of statements regarding the purpose of pastoral councils. The aim of the council is to make the life and activity of the parish ever more closely conform to the gospel. (Paul VI, Ecclesiae Sanctae I, August 6, 1966, no. 16, in Flannery, editor, The Documents of Vatican II, p. 601) It assists the parish’s apostolic work, and coordinates various independent lay associations and initiatives. (Vatican II, “Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People,” Apostolicam actuositatem, November 18, 1965, no 26 , in Flannery, editor, The Documents of Vatican II, pp. 891-2.) The members offer wise counsel so that the pastor plans the pastoral program systematically and carries it out effectively. (Sacred Congregation for Bishops, Directory on the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, no. 204, p. 105.)
The pastoral council is the organization responsible for creating, reviewing and updating the parish mission statement and the parish plan that guides the parish in its mission. The pastoral council investigates pastoral matters under the leadership of the pastor, ponders them and draws practical conclusions.
[Source: Guidelines for Parish Pastoral Councils Diocese of Rockford, September 23 , 1999]