Saturday, December 27, 2014

Female Pastoral Administrator for parishes in Norhampton Diocese

Update: I've just been told, by the by, that the church of the Catholic parish of Christ the King in Milton Keynes is in fact shared with the Anglicans. The Anglicans, by a nice coincidence, have a lady vicar there.

From The Vine, the diocesesan newspaper of Northampton Diocese, November 2014.

Uncaptioned photo accompanying the story on the
front page of The Vine.
'Remember, you saw it here first. She can do everything a priest can do, except anything that a priest does do. Sister Yvonne Pilarski SSCJ is a pioneer, even an experiment. At Bishop Peter [Doyle]'s request, she has taken over as Pastoral Administrator of the parishes of Christ the King, Milton Keynes, and St Bede, Newport Pagnell. Along with Sister Eileen McElhone, she moved into the presbytery at Kents Hill on September 25, and was commissioned by Bishop Peter at the Masses on September 28. Fr Malcolm Bull will add Newport Pagnell to his responsibilities in Olney. Fr Paul Hardy will add ministry at Christ the King to his work at St Edward's, Milton Keynes. They have the help of two Permanent Deacons. But, Sister Yvonne is in charge!'

After a short account of her career up to now the article concludes:

'In a quiet way she knows the world is watching her.'

It is nice to know that, at 71, Bishop Doyle is still able to carry out bold experiments. I am a little unsure about this one, however. These parishes must, in canon law, have Parish Priests: only a parish priest (or 'priest in charge') can sign off things like permissions to marry outside the parish. These priests, presumably the neighbouring priests named in the article, have responsibility, morally and in canon law, for the souls in those parishes. We are being told, however, that they will not be allowed to exercise the authority which comes with the responsibility. To say the least, that puts them in an awkward situation.

As to what the article's second sentence means, I truly have no idea. Suggestions in the comments box, perhaps.

The 'experiment' going on in these two parishes is an experiment in depriving the faithful there of spiritual paternity. Pastoral care, or what is purported to be pastoral care, is being exercised by a person lacking the grace of the sacrament of Holy Orders and the psychological profile necessary to exercise spiritual paternity.

Presumably this experiment is a response to a shortage of vocations. Is the diocese expecting any future vocations from parishes deprived of the example of a priest giving his flock pastoral care?

If they think that there is a problem of vocations to the priesthood, they should have a look at the situation of active religious sisters, and particularly the kind which don't bother with any kind of religious habit. The vast numbers released from their vows, the collapse in vocations, and the rocketing average age of religious sisters, makes the problems of vocations to the priesthood look like a picnic. It seems like every week that a convent goes up for sale. Is this where the Diocese of Northampton is looking for help?

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  1. For most liberals, the priest shortage is a feature, not a bug. For precisely this kind of reason.

    1. Absolutely, no priestly interference gives carte blanche for the flexing of those liberal laity muscles to cause even more damage. O Lord send us many Holy Priests and Religious Vocations!

    2. Right! This parish has now no pastoral lead - only headless chickens leading headless chickens. O Lord send us many Holy Priests and true Religious Vocations.

  2. Sister Pilarski is not a parish priest, therefore, she has no spiritual responsibilities in the parish any more than any other ordinary well intending parishioner has.

    The parish council, if one exists, owes her no responsibility. Their role is to advise and assist the parish priest.

    The term "Pastoral Administrator" means nothing.

    No member of the parish is in any way obliged to be influenced by any decisions or advice or instruction she issues.

    The solution to the current ever deteriorating shortage of priest is to merge parishes as the Protestants are, and have been doing, for the last two decades at least.

    One thing is certain, and that is if this practise of trying to put a non-priest or non-deacon in charge of a parish, then the present decline in Mass attendance will decrease even more sharply and consistently than at present.

  3. I am very much in favour of exploring ways to find roles for women, particularly female religious, in the Church, where chauvinism may historically have prevented this, but Bishop Doyle seems to be acting without legal basis:
    Canon 539: "When a parish becomes vacant or when a pastor is prevented from exercising his pastoral function in the parish... the diocesan bishop is to designate as soon as possible a parochial administrator, that is, a_ priest_ who takes the place of the pastor according to the norm of ⇒ can. 540."
    Sr Pilaski is not a priest. She probably can do a lot to provide leadership, and focus efforts, within the parish, but she cannot in law be an administrator.

  4. Anonymous2:30 am

    There is no such minister in the Catholic Church as a "Pastoral Administrator". Is this woman a nun? Then she ought to be living the vocation of a nun, in a convent. If a secular administrator is needed in the parish, a parishioner could volunteer or be paid to do the work. As for "pastoring", that takes a pastor.

  5. I don't know what a "pastoral administrator" is, or does. But if it's what I think it might be, then surely that's one of the key roles of an ordinary or, at the least, a senior priest of the diocesan office acting in his name.

    1. For the diocese, yes. This is a pastoral administrator of a parish: part of the role of the Parish Priest.

  6. Female Pastoral Administrator for parishes in Northampton Diocese – modernist nonsense!


  7. My former parish in the States. Is this what the Bishop had in mind?

  8. Perhaps someone should ask a canon lawyer, such as the officialis of Northampton, Brendan Killeen, what a "pastoral administrator" is, if not a "parochial administrator"?
    I'm not sure (even) bishops are allowed to make up canon law as they go along.

  9. "Is the diocese expecting any future vocations from parishes deprived of the example of a priest giving his flock pastoral care?"

    I have the strong suspicion that this question never once factored into the decision to appoint Sr. Pilarski to run these parishes.

  10. Anonymous7:30 am

    The relevant provision permitting the appointment of a lay person is canon 517(2). The appointee is "entrusted with a share in the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish", but the diocesan bishop must also appoint a priest to "direct the pastoral care [of that parish]". Hence the reference to Fr Bull and Fr Hardy in the notice.

    What is problematic is the assertion that Sr Pilarski is "in charge", since she clearly is not, as is the implication (in the case of Fr. Hardy) that the priest's function is limited to to dispensing the mysteries. Directing, coordinating, moderating and governing the parish are the competencies of the priest alone. See Inter-dicasterial Instruction Ecclesiae de Mysterio (1998) article 4 §1 which also asserts that where the necessity arises for an appointment under canon 517, the preference should be given to the parish deacon (if viable).

    The very term "pastoral administrator" is implicitly reprehended because it subverts the principles of the canon (see the Instruction, footnote 76).


  11. I take it that Sister Pilarski is not doubling as the lady Vicar. We should be grateful for small mercies but who knows what is down the road? As to the second sentence I have come to the conclusion that it is not good for one's spiritual health to try and extract the exact meaning of any statement from certain Bishops and other ecclesiastical authorities.