Further clarification of "democracy" comments by Pope
The text of Pope John Paul's comments last Saturday to the Congregation for the Clergy have been published and the Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, has expanded further in a separate media briefing.
At the time CathNews first reported this story on Monday there was little information available other than some limited reports in the secular media. It seemed at the time though to be a significant development. The more detailed information now available would seem to indicate that concerns raised by cardinals and bishops around the world about collegiality and governance have been causing some soul-searching within the Vatican. In the earliest reports published it was said "Pope John Paul agreed the issue of lay participation 'needs to be updated' but he wasn't specific."
At Saturday's audience John Paul II underlined the need to "safeguard a balanced relation between the role of the laity and that which is properly the competence of the diocesan ordinary or the parish priest."
"The structure of the Church cannot be conceived according to simple human political models," the Pope said. "Its hierarchical constitution is based on the will of Christ and, as such, forms part of the deposit of faith, which must be preserved and totally transmitted through the centuries."
Cardinal Castrillón in his radio interview said: "We have experience that often there is talk in the name of the Spirit, but not a few times also in the name of the evil spirit, and it is the Pope for the universal Church, and the bishops for the local Churches, who must undertake this discernment. This is why the way of participating in the responsibility of the Church is different."
"The faithful do so with the strength of baptism and confirmation, because the Holy Spirit is also present in them," the cardinal continued. "But the charism of government to carry out this discernment, which can be regarded as certain for the whole community and, therefore, governing to direct the entire community, is the exclusive task of the bishop or pastor in the parish."
He added: "It is precisely in this area where the problems are found, because there is no lack of councils that would like to have the power of government and, consequently, dominate the parish or the Church … [and] this, obviously, is not accepted by the Church."
Zenit - Church's Structure Is Not Political, Says John Paul II
Zenit - Charism of Church Government Lies With Pastors, Says Cardinal Castrillón
CathNews - Pope's comments to priests drawing mixed headlines
Associated Press - Pope wants Priest-Parishioner distinction
AGI - Pope: Democracy not needed in Churches
canoe.com - Pope tells priests to find balance
15 Jan 2004