While Parish Pastoral Councils are relatively new organizations in today’s Church, they have their roots in the early Church, where it was common for groups to share their leadership and their resources with the whole community.
Parish Pastoral Councils were envisioned by the Second Vatican Council to be advisory bodies to the pastor and to exercise the role of Servant Leadership. The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity noted: “councils should be set up to assist the Church’s apostolic work.”
The Code of Canon Law defines a parish as “a certain community of the Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular church, whose pastoral care is entrusted to a Pastor under the authority of the diocesan Bishop. Canon 536 of the code relates to the establishment of advisory parish councils.
In the Diocese of Scranton, Bishop Bambera expressed again the expectation for parishes to develop these councils, and reinforced the task of pastoral planning as the rightful prerogative of Parish Pastoral Councils in his 2011 Pastoral Letter, Wounded and Loved, Regathering the Scattered. The local norms state: Parish Pastoral Councils exercise Servant Leadership by their understanding of and their responsiveness to the ministry dimension of their roles, by acting out of a commitment to serve the community, by having a working knowledge of the Diocesan Mission, by focusing on the mission of the parish in light of the larger mission, and by being signs of hope to the parish and beyond.
Parish Pastoral Council Guidelines pp. 7-10