Catholics and Protestants: How do you define Pastoral Care?


*]Are there differences/similarities in how we see Pastoral Care?
*]Are the differences worrisome; if so are they irreconcilable?
*]Are the similarities enough to bring us closer to the unity for which Jesus prayed?[/LIST]
Thoughts? Thank you. :slight_smile:


How do you define it because Im not sure what you mean.:confused: Maybe you can say what you mean and then I can answer.:thumbsup:


Pastoral care means administering the sacraments to help people come closer to God. Protestants have less sacraments and often deemphasize the ones they do have (Communion in some Anglican denominations, for example).

Protestants also have a larger problem of pastors being unavailable for tending the flock. We saw this particularly in the larger churches where a bureaucracy was set in place to limit direct access to the pastor. There seems to be a general issue with wholesale vs. retail pastoral care in these churches. Good luck getting a one-on-one with Rick Warren if you attend Saddleback Church. Closest I ever saw him was on a big-screen from row 120.

On the other hand, my wife and I have had extensive interaction with both our priests, our deacon, and both our bishop and our retired bishop. I’m not sure how common this is, but it’s more pastoral care than we’ve ever experienced previously, and we thank God for it.


Our church presently has one full-time minister. We are in the process of hiring a second minister who will be responsible for Pastoral Care.

Pastoral Care is visiting, counselling or otherwise helping those within the congregation who are passing through a difficult time.This includes visiting the sick, hospitalized and shut-ins, grief counselling and prayer.

It is provided through a number of means.

It is provided through visitations by the ministers, elders, trained volunteers and other volunteers.

Our Pastoral Care program is set out on this linked page.


OK, I’ll try. From a Catholic point of view:

New Advent

…In brief, pastoral theology begins, where the other theological sciences leave off; takes the results of them all and makes these results effective for the salvation of souls through the ministry of the priesthood established by Christ…

…From the days when St. Gregory the Great wrote his classic “Regulæ pastoralis liber”, the duties that make for the care of souls have been conveniently divided into those of the teacher, of the minister of the sacred mysteries, and of the shepherd …

pastoral (adj.) %between% “of or pertaining to shepherds,” 1432, from O.Fr. pastoral, from L. pastoralis, from pastor….The noun sense of “poem dealing with country life generally” is from 1584. Pastorale (in the It. form) “musical composition representing pastoral scenes” is attested from 1724.

pastor (n.) 1242, “shepherd,” also “spiritual guide, shepherd of souls” (1377), from O.Fr. pastur “herdsman, shepherd” (12c.), from L. pastorem (nom. pastor) “shepherd,” from pastus, pp. of pascere “to lead to pasture, graze,” from PIE base *pa- “to tend, keep, pasture, feed, guard”… The spiritual sense was in Church L. (cf. Gregory’s “Cura Pastoralis”). The verb in the Christian sense is from 1872.

That’s a start. If you would like to look up pastor or shepherd, then here is a concordance. And here is a good Catholic Bible.


I never grew up in a certain church. In fact, never went to church before a few years ago, so I can’t attest to the pastoral care in protestant churches. However, I’ve been able to create a good relationship with my parish’s Priest. A little while ago, while formally introducing myself, and telling him of my intentions for the fall, he welcomed me. So far, we’ve talked at length about questions I have both with the faith and RCIA four or five times now, and that’s over a course of two weeks.

Although I know many parishes aren’t like that, mine is blessed to have a Father that spends almost all of his free time teaching and making everyone feel comfortable with their faith.



Thank you. I read through what you linked and I must be tired because most of it went over my head:o

Can I sum it up by saying the info. you gave me was pretty much the job description of a priest:confused: That is what I got out of it. Remember I said I was tired:o

Sycarl’s response is pretty much how are church runs. We have 3 ministers. One senior pastor who has a masters in counseling, so he does most if not all of that. Everything from marriage counseling to eating disorders. We have an associate pastor and he oversees many community outreach programs. One example is that he oversees me for the homeless ministry I am in charge of. Finally we have a youth minister who is a 30 year old kid. He, of course, runs all the youth activities(6th—12th grade)

Then of course we have elders and deacons whom the whole congregation is split among them and they are our flock leaders. We each have one and call them when we have a need.

There is much more but no need to list them all. You get the picture.

Oh, BTW I go to a non-denom church.:thumbsup:


That is wonderful and a good definition of pastoral care to boot—nurturing the flock.

My parish certainly sounds like yours in this regard. I am certain that many, many parishes are, although equally certain some are not. I suspect that the Catholic emphasis on pastoral care makes it more likely than not a given parish will possess it in abundance.


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