Possible New Models for Parishes (The Parish in Canon Law, part 3)

Our earlier comments are not intended to imply that diocesan bishops have simply sat still on pastoral planning and parish staffing while the world changed around them: far from it. As populations have dwindled or shifted, and numbers of available clergy have declined nearly everywhere, bishops across the United States (and elsewhere in the world, too) have moved to make real and sometimes drastic changes to the internal structures of their dioceses, and to how they provide pastoral care for the souls committed to their care. There are a number of very different options that have been pursued in different places; in the next few installments of our series we will attempt to sketch the outlines of these different canonical configurations along with their strengths and weaknesses where applicable. We will look at 1) a single priest serving as parochus of more than one parish; 2) a group of priests in solidum sharing the duties of parochus for one or several parishes; 3) the vicariate forane as a possible “super parish” solution; 4) the quasi-parish; and 5) oratories. Not all of these concepts are equally applicable (or even applicable at all, as we shall see), but all have been “in the mix” in the ongoing exploration and experimentation in the area of pastoral planning, and so a clear understanding of each is required for adequate engagement with the scope of our overall topic.



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