Pope says fixing parishes requires more than plugging holes
Pope John Paul II has cautioned that reforms under way in many parishes facing a priest shortage must go beyond the administrative level and focus on ongoing formation and catechesis.
Referring to changes in parish structures in France, the Holy Father was speaking at the weekend with bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Lyon and Clermont, at the end of their five-yearly ad limina visit to Rome.
He warned against using secular management principles to engineer the revitalisation of parishes.
"It is not an administration or a business; above all, it is a spiritual reality," he said.
Parish priests, he suggested, should focus on the grace of God more than prudent management practices. They need to rediscover the "authentic nature" of the Church through spiritual formation and catechesis.
The richness of parish life should be focused on the "prophetic mission" of "proclaiming the Good News of salvation".
However he acknowledged that parish life has suffered because of a worsening shortage of priests in France, and praised the bishops for regrouping parishes to reflect the priest shortage and the urbanisation of the church's members.
Parish Reform Must Include Catechetical Dimension, Says Pope (Zenit 9/2/04)
Pope encourages French parish life renewal, emphasizes evangelization (Catholic News Service 9/2/04)
Eglise catholique en France: Visites ad limina a Rome | Les dernières visites
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11 Feb 2004