Committee for Pastoral Practice 2013 Report


Summary Report to Assembly IV -- September 2012-August 2013

The committee has held one meeting since Assembly III, from 6-10 May 2013 in Alhambra, CA.

The committee reviewed its remit as chiefly (a) to identify differences and inconsistencies among the various jurisdictions in their exercise of sacramental and pastoral praxis; and (b) to establish a protocol to address these inconsistencies and propose models for resolution consistent with canonical practice.

Principal Tasks:

The committee has organized its principal tasks (with direction from the Terms of Reference of the AOB) into three phases:

(1) Identify the sacramental and pastoral practices (e.g., marriage and divorce, reception of converts, etc.) in current usage among all the jurisdictions represented in the Assembly [completed 2011];

(2) Establish a matrix of practices that allows for a clear comparison and a protocol to address inconsistencies, and catalogue the differences and inconsistencies that exist and determine whether such differences are local (parish or diocese only) or the policy of the jurisdiction [completed 2012-13];

(3) Propose models for resolution that are consistent with canonical practice [projected completion 2013].


Work to Date, and at Present:

A not inconsiderable amount of work has been undertaken by the committee with respect to these tasks. Eleven fields of pastoral practice were identified for a survey with respect to task 1 (Baptism, Chrismation and Conversion; Marriage; Confession; Communion; Holy Unction/Anointing; Funerals and Memorials; Hospital Chaplaincy/Visitation of the Sick; Divorce among Clergy and Laity; Pastoral Aspects of Clergy Misconduct and Discipline; Pastoral Aspects of Clergy Release and Transfer; Reception of Roman Catholic Clergy), and questionnaires were circulated amongst the jurisdictions.

An interesting note in response: “Analysis of the documents received to date reveals that many jurisdictions have no centrally articulated, official, written policies for certain fields of pastoral practice.”

Focusing on Addressing Resolution:

Having completed the central work for its first two tasks, attention is now focusing on Task 3, which addresses the proposal of models for resolution that are consistent with canonical practice. With regard to this: “At this writing, the Committee has held its first Conference on Pastoral Practice, and plans are underway for the 2014 Conference. The goal of the conference will be to discuss the theological and ecclesiological ramifications of the Committee’s findings and to negotiate workable models for proposing resolution. This part of the Committee’s work can only be accomplished by face-to-face meetings of all the concerned parties – that is, the representatives of all jurisdictions. This means that a much greater number of participants will be necessary, and this necessity is reflected in our proposed budget for 2014. The Conference will then be able to make specific, practical recommendations to the Fifth Assembly of Bishops one year from now.”

Fuller Reports:

The committee has prepared an 8-page Summary Report of its activities, for Assembly IV; together with its full 192-page Final Report for the Assembly, which has been submitted in its draft form to the chair of the committee for review before forwarding on further.