Thursday, February 7, 2013

Good News: Archbishop Already Planning Archdiocesan Pastoral Council

By Paula Ruddy

Concerned that lay people have no regular channels of communication with the clerical leadership, the Council of the Baptized published and sent to Archbishop John Nienstedt its first position paper entitled "Archdiocesan Pastoral Council: A Recommendation for Re-establishment" on January 17, 2013. The Archbishop responded by a letter dated February 1, 2013. He says a plan is already in the works to bring an APC back to this archdiocese.

Despite the fact that we have heard nothing about this plan, lay Catholics can welcome the Archbishop’s initiative.

The concern now is for how the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council will be structured. In its position paper, the Council of the Baptized recommends that the members of the APC be elected from diverse groups of people within the archdiocese. It also recommends that everyone be allowed to submit subjects for discussion by the APC in open agendas. And finally, to hold everyone accountable, the APC meetings should be open to the press and the public.

Without a degree of openness, the new APC will be doomed. The history of Diocesan Pastoral Councils has shown that when the pastors and bishops hand pick the members, when the bishop sets the agenda, and when the meetings are closed, responsible lay people lose interest. The mission of the Church is best served by laity and clergy of all points of view listening to each other. If we believe that the Holy Spirit speaks through all the faithful, an open atmosphere welcomes the Spirit’s voice.

Of course, canon law puts the responsibility on the Archbishop to determine what structure the APC will have. There is no requirement of canon law, however, that the Archbishop cannot consult widely in its planning and make it an open, diverse, and truly representative body. That is up to his good will and good judgment.

We urge Catholics concerned about authentic two-way communication in the Church to express their hopes and needs to the Archbishop while he is planning the new Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. His address is: 226 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102.

Order a copy of the Council of the Baptized’s position paper
by clicking here. The paper will be sent to you free of charge.

See also the previous PCV post:
Council of the Baptized Recommends Comeback for Archdiocesan Pastoral Council

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