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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Catholic Laity Taking Control in Parishes

Every time I hear another story about how a Catholic parish is changing to be more like a protestant church I feel sick.

Unfortunately it is happening again, this time to our Catholic brethren in Canada.  The Archdiocese of Saint Boniface recently announced its five year “Action Plan” in which they will work hard at turning much of the parish over to the laity to run.

Archbishop Albert LeGatt seems thrilled with the "Action Plan" to hand over more parish authority to the laity.  This plan means parish priests will have less authority over their own parishes while the laity have more control and power than ever before. This is how protestant congregations work, the congregation dictates to the minister how things will go and if he doesn't like it, he's voted out and a new puppet is installed.

Quote from Winnipeg Free Press:

“The proposal to involve lay people in making decisions will be presented to priests, deacons and lay leaders at an all-day meeting on May 28, says Pierre-Alain Giffard, director of pastoral services for the archdiocese.
"We're looking at building healthy, relevant and missionary parishes that aim at spiritual growth and involving people in ministries," says Giffard, who holds a doctorate in theology specializing in church growth.” –end quote-

And this gem about a parishes 'decision-making powers' to move from the priest to the laity.

Quote: “Giffard says the proposal calls for decision-making powers to move from the parish priest to include a parish leadership team responsible for faith formation, social justice, fellowship, finance, liturgical functions and proclaiming the faith.
This restructuring proposal grows out of a five-year action plan ( calling for spiritual and pastoral renewal involving all Catholics in the diocese, says Archbishop Albert LeGatt.  
 "It's also asking the parishes to engage in a visioning and planning process for their parish life, which is more than just keeping up the building," says LeGatt, who compares the shift in structure to building a bridge span by span.
[Archbishop LeGatt says] "The next span in the bridge is about giving greater authority to the lay people and authority given in a consultative and service manner."  
Changing the lines of authority in the Catholic church may take years to implement, says a retired professor of Catholic history and longtime advocate for change in the governance of the church.  
 "We've had a clericalized top-down leadership for centuries encoded in canon law," says Richard Lebrun, adding it is ironic the hierarchy of the archdiocese is now telling the lay people how to get involved.” –end quote-

Yes, how ironic indeed!

Here are a few quotes from the “Action Plan”

 FIRST GUIDING PRINCIPLE Call upon the gifts and charisms of all the baptized. Rethink and adapt to the changing circumstances in our communities, the vocations and the roles, the calls and the responses to the ministries and services of the Church. The spiritual and pastoral renewal depends upon the willingness of the baptized to share their gifts and charisms. 
SECOND GUIDING PRINCIPLE Broaden the outreach of the Gospel and the faith of the ChurchStrive for a greater life-giving presence of the Church.
THIRD GUIDING PRINCIPLE Assert Catholic identity -Express our Catholic identity.
FOURTH GUIDING PRINCIPLE Give visibility to the Church- Increase the visibility of the Church in the public forum.
FIFTH GUIDING PRINCIPLE Develop the spirituality of stewardship- Integrate the spirituality of Christian stewardship into parish and diocesan activities.

Here are some specifics:

DESCRIPTION OF SERVICES - Nathanael is a journey of discernment and formation designed to offer the baptized the opportunity to enrich and deepen their faith, to witness more effectively in the world, to evangelize and, if such is their call, to exercise leadership in the Church. It leads the baptized to rediscover and mature in their baptismal commitment, and to engage more fully in the mission of Christ and of the Church. Nathanael is placed under the responsibility of the Diocesan Coordinator of Evangelization and Adult Faith Formation aided by a formation team.


The social pastoral mission of the Church is the embodiment of a concrete and life-giving concern for evangelization in the social, economic, cultural, and political realities of society (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
). Its goal is to promote social justice, respect for human rights and dignity, as well as a greater transforming force of our society so it is truer to the Gospel. Through His Word, God calls upon all the faithful to look after the poor and downtrodden, through individual and collective action as people of good will sharing and manifesting God’s love.


DESCRIPTION OF SERVICES - Social justice promotes equal rights and community solidarity. It strives toward a just society in social, economic, and cultural terms. It works toward giving everyone the same opportunities for success but also promotes an equitable distribution of wealth.New Projects and Implementation phases 2013-2018   Take an inventory of existing social justice initiatives in the Archdiocese
Develop activities through networking with other provincial organizations involved in social justice.
So what do you think Catholics? 

Is it a good idea for the laity to take over and become more like the 30,000+ protestant denominations out there?

Will this “action plan” grow better Catholics or closet protestants who call themselves Catholic?        

In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

**For some reason Blogger isn't accepting any Youtube video codes today, so to watch Archbishop LeGatt on Youtube discuss "Action Plan" go HERE.


  1. I'm sorry, it's horrifying to me.
    A bunch of Alpha families leading the charge to their favorite "ministry" financed by my donations and excluding decision making of the Priest?
    Keep it.

  2. Yes, because Catholic schools got so much better once they were turned over to the laity... please note the sarcasm...

  3. Weeeelll.....
    I'd love to see laity much more involved in the Church. I'd love to see lay people learning to play organs so choir directors can actually direct. I'd love to see laity organizing Scholas Cantorum, that all persons might be taught how to pray well in song. I'd love to see laity frequently collaborating to organize Rosary Crusades, Adoration of the Eucharist, assisting with catechizing others, and providing a host of other services that everyone in the Church desperately needs.

    I'd like to see Knights of Columbus chapters providing security for various Church events, including Mass, that all the faithful might worship without hindrance.

    I'd LOVE to see laity get involved in learning and teaching Latin, so we can all discuss the faith in one common tongue.

    Sadly, the ideas I see discussed in this article have little relation to any of these needs.
    If the Church is looking for laity to be making decisions without a pastor's guidance?

    Count me OUT!

  4. God spare us from lay leadership...unless the laity are formed with the mind of the Church...I would not oppose things mentioned by John in his comment, but God save us from Sr Mary Pantssuit leadership styles.


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Thank you and God bless...

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

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