Pope Francis says Parish Priests are obliged to form Parish Finance Committees

IGIsaac Gomes reports from Kolkata

Pope Francis' observation during a Question & Answer session at a meeting at Vatican's Paul VI Hall with International Union of Superiors General (UISG) for women on 12th May 2016,

After answering the question on "For a better integration of women in the life of the Church", and observing that “the feminine genius is necessary in all expressions of the life of the Church and of society”, the Pope said The other danger, a very strong temptation I have spoken about several times, is clericalism. And this is very strong. Let us consider that today more than 60 per cent of parishes – of dioceses I don’t know, but marginally fewer – do not have a council for economic affairs or a pastoral council. What does this mean? It means that the parish or diocese is led with a clerical spirit, by the priest alone, and that it does not implement the synodality in the parish, in the diocese, which is not a novelty under this Pope. No! It is a matter of canon law: the parish priest is obliged to have a council of, for and with laymen, laywomen and women religious for pastoral ministry and for economic affairs. And they do not do this. This is the danger of clericalism in the Church today. We must go ahead and remove this danger, because the priest is a servant of the community, the bishop is a servant of the community, but he is not the head of a firm. No! This is important. In Latin America, for example, clericalism is very strong and pronounced. Laypeople do not know what to do, if they do not ask the priest. It is very strong. And for this reason an awareness of the role of the laity has been very delayed. It is saved in part only through popular piety, as the protagonist of this is the people, and the people have done things as they come to them, and priests in this regard have not been very interested; some have not seen this phenomenon of popular piety in a positive light. But clericalism is a negative attitude. And it takes complicity: it is something that is done by two parties, just as it takes two to dance the tango. … That is: the priest seeks to clericalise the layman, the laywoman, the man or woman religious, and the layperson asks to be clericalised, because it is easier that way. And this is curious. In Buenos Aires, I had this experience three or four times: a good priest came to me and said, “I have a very good layperson in my parish: he does this and that, he knows how to organise things, he gets things done. … Shall we make him a deacon?” Or rather: shall we “clericalise” him? “No! Let him remain a layperson. Don’t make him a deacon”. This is important. It often happens to you that clericalism obstructs the correct development of something.

The pope has reconfirmed my comments in Chhotebhai's article SHAME & SCANDAL published on 17th May 2016 that most parishes in India do not have transparently constituted Parish Pastoral Councils (PPCs) and Parish Finance Committees (PFCs).  The Pope himself has said that according to his knowledge, at least 60 per cent of parishes do not have PPCs and more importantly, PFCs. He has reiterated parish priests are obliged (it is not their or their provincials' whims and fancies) to form these councils/ committees. While some lay leaders appointed in various Archdiocesan / Diocesan Commissions by their Archbishops / Bishops hail parish priests as "Kings", Pope Francis bursts the balloon when goes on to say "We must go ahead and remove this danger, because the priest is a servant of the community, the bishop is a servant of the community, but he is not the head of a firm."

Are the 180+ bishops of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) listening? 

Is the Archbishop of Calcutta listening? Are the Religious Superiors in Bengal listening to this down to earth Pope?
Is the Church Hierarchy in India, the CBCI, CCBI listening to the hard talks of Pope Francis or are these sayings like throwing water on ducks back?
When will our dioceses, institutions and parishes wake up to this important call given by Pope himself, the Supreme Authority and act towards transparency and accountability? 


Isaac Gomes


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