Among other things, the guidelines caution priests not to “commercialise” the sacraments by charging fees, and they stipulate that financial difficulties within a diocese are not a legitimate reason for closing down parishes.
Titled “The Pastoral Conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church,” the new guidelines, released yesterday, are an “instruction” meaning they are a set of non-binding suggestions for the renewal of parish life.
Issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy, the new guidelines “represent a valuable opportunity for pastoral conversion that is essentially missionary.”
“Parish communities,” they say, “will find herein a call to go out of themselves, offering instruments for reform, even structural, in a spirit of communion and collaboration, of encounter and closeness, of mercy and solicitude for the proclamation of the Gospel.”
While led by a priest, a parish is a community and as such, any changes made must be done in consultation with the parishioners, the instruction said.
The instruction stressed that the pastor is the head of his parish, and that his tasks cannot be assigned to a group of priests or laypeople, meaning that titles such as “team leader,” which imply joint governance of a parish, “are to be avoided”.
Vatican issues guidelines for parishes in the Pope Francis era (By Elise Ann Allen, Crux)
Parish at the service of evangelisation (Vatican News)