Vatican issues new guidelines for parishes

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Very interesting.

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I was hoping for something practical, like no “baggie” Communion.

Oh well.


There is no substance here. None.
It’s like they say “you should run good parishes, be welcoming”. Well duh… everyone knows that. How are these “guidelines”!?


Ok, I took the time to read the full document. Even when every brain cell in my body was making me roll my eyes from typical buzzwords (‘synergize’ shudder) I see coming from management e-mails, I still read it. I came away with nothing new, not even from the section addressing the laity.

I can’t say I quite know why this Instruction was written because there wasn’t much instruction given. I suspect the reaction of people to the Amazon synod (and everything around it) had some part to play due to some of the wording near the beginning. However, I guess I was hoping for more out of a document that was to address parish life. My main concerns boil down to:

  • The seeming over-emphasis on disassociating a person with their geographical parish because I think that’ll lead to echo-chamber communities that have members forget about supporting their local areas in an effort to spread themselves too thin over a larger area. Mainly this concern came when it was discussing how technology is “chang[ing] our way of thinking, together with the understanding of self and of social living”.

  • The emphasis on moving forward with the times. “In virtue of this discernment, the Parish is called upon to read the signs of the times, while adapting both to the needs of the faithful and to historical changes.” I’ve had too many conversations with non-Church members that “the Church should just get with the times” to not automatically react negatively to such wording in the context of evangelization. I feel like certain parts of the faithful will see the push to be “creative” and will run with it.

  • I was disappointed with a lot of wording about moving forward for creativity and not a lot about looking back at what we have and should maybe bring to the front again. I’m not saying we can’t find new ways of presenting things and tackling concerns that weren’t as big before, but I don’t want to forget that we have a long history with different ideas in our effort to do so.

  • As someone who grew up in a parish that was happy as long as someone wasn’t trying to make much more than daily mass and the Knights of Columbus a thing outside of Sunday mass, I can’t say the emphasis on considering the community when “updating” as a totally good idea. There is merit to a pastor not coming in and throwing an established parish on its head and bucking all local traditions, but I also know that there are parishes out there that need a bit of a wake-up call not to be run by the same “idea people” that have been running things for decades.


For the same reason large corporations have vague mission statements.
It means something to the managers nearer to the top, even though it means much less to those with boots on the ground.

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Looks like the Vatican Office of Completely Useless Documents is at hard work once again

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Speaking for my own parish (imho) this might be aimed more at small parishes that are struggling. We will be losing all our (3) priests next year, so do not know what will become of our parish (our neighbouring parishes are a bit aloof and don’t really interact with us, no matter how we try). We have two churches that combined probably hold only 600 yet pre-covid19 a good Sunday you might get 250 (usually for funerals & months minds). Before the churches closed we were looking for ideas to revitalise it but felt despondent at the thought of losing the priests. It will be interested to see what impact this document has on ours and other parishes in the diocese.

`Just once I would like to see the Vatican saying something like this:

Beloved Catholics:

Please know we pray for you. While the times may be a changing, God does not change. Therefore as St Paul said, we urge you to hold fast to the teachings you have received by word of mouth and tradition as found in the magesterium of the Church. We ask that all bishops through the world immediately cease to treat their dioceses /parishes like a corporation, and that instead all priests immediately stop any practices that are not part of Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Go back to the basics, people! Stop reinventing the wheel. Stop adding in and twisting doctrine. Stop being ‘pastoral’ and start being servants in the right way, by teaching the people correct doctrine, not getting them to march in your personal fanclub. Scale down on your banquets and your photo ops and get on your knees in your cathedral. Stop having meetings about the latest ‘ism’ and get Bible studies going. Stop talking about the poor; go out there and help build homes, plant and harvest food, etc. Go out and BE JESUS and model Him so others can do the same.

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Many if not most priests I know already do that stuff and don’t need a lecture.

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:disappointed: This is why I could never be a manager (other than highly adverse to confrontation). I can’t imagine a time where a vague statement actually has any meaning in my work-life. Don’t get me wrong, I know people who put great importance in having mission statements and everything, but I’ve never understood it.

Do y’all think this may be aiming in the direction of consolidating more smaller Parishes with larger parishes and making them like “welcoming centers” with more departments in each to help people? Does it sound like they want to be more about charity and community service?

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By the end of next year, I wouldn’t be surprised if 10% to 20% of parishes in many dioceses are closed down. Most are suffering financially because of covid, and many people simply will not return to church.

Let’s face it . . . not many people are up for having to make a reservation, having to wear masks, keep masks on their kids, having to act like the inside of the church is a CDC virus lab, etc. People have become too comfortable with streaming Masses and making acts of contrition. The fact that the bishops treated covid like the second coming of the black plague didn’t help, either. You’d think that the average American street has people dumping the dead bodies of their neighbors from the back of a wooden wagon.


Once the dispensation are lifted without a valid excuse those missing Mass will be in a state of mortal sin. Hopefully that will get many back to Mass.

I don’t think many believe or care.

They could have just saved time with these guidelines and just printed out the 10 Commandments and said “do this.”


My pastor has an MBA, and the parish runs like a well-oiled machine as he has delegated day-to-day business to the Parish Manager. The pastor, on the other hand, does everything a priest should do, with a highly spiritual outlook for the care of souls.

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I think it is going to be quite a long time before the dispensations are lifted. I would be surprised if they are lifted before Christmas.

Not surprisingly, the same mundane, nebulous “guideliness” have caused a bit of a stir among the German Bishops…

Is everything problematic for these Bishops?

I guess since the document didn’t tell them to put women in charge of their parishes or make them deacons they didn’t like it. Leave it to the Germans to find a pretty mundane document like this controversial.


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