GEORGE FELIX, Shortage of presbyters and pastoral care of a parish: A juridical study of CCEO


George Felix, Kottar,
                      Shortage of presbyters and pastoral care of a parish:
                                    A juridical study of CCEO canon 287, §1

Direttore : P. Cyril Vasil' sj

           Canon 287, §1 of Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalìum comes as a Juridico-pastoral remedy in the present situation of shortage of presbyters. The present study, consisting of 354 pages examines this canon from the point of canonical literature, its various sources and post-CCEO period works of John Paul II. This study is introduced by highlighting the biblical theme of "sheep without a shepherd", which Jesus himself employed to express the necessity of labourers to continue His ministry. Even today, the pastoral relevance of the concept of pastor and sheep fìnds its emphasis in the teachings of Roman Pontìffs, the Second Vatican Council and, in particular, the Corpus luris Canonici. The fìrst chapter analyses the key Latin terms, employed in CCEO 287, §1: paroecia, parochus, presbyter, cura paroecialis and penuria with a due consideration to the expressions alia adiuncta plurium vicinarum paroeciarum cura and concredi potest, John Paul II stated that juridical terms are to be employed as understood by the legislator himself in accord with the meaning that long-standing sound tradition, doctrine and jurisprudence attribute to them in the Church's juridical system. Each term then, must be considered in the text and context of the norm with a vision of canonical legislation which allows its uniform evaluation avoiding any equivocation or relative or subjective meaning. This is established in the light of the most recent magisterial documents. The second chapter studies the problem historically and brings out the phenomenon of its existence right from the time of Christ, but at varied measures. The concern of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council gave rise to various documents at juridical and pastoral level, which led Paul VI to delineate clearly the prìnciple of a just distributìon of available priests in the universal Church under prescribed conditions. This gave rise to establishing canonical measures with a future vision to resolve the problem of shortage of presbyters in the pastoral care of a parish. The third chapter examines the textual formation of Canon 287, §1 which at the redactional phase had the motu proprio Cleri sanctitati can. 501, §1, as its testo base. The definite text becomes similar to that of CIC can. 526, §1 with the exception of the use of terms "presbyter" and "sacerdos". The study traces back the source of the definite text to the juridical system of the Latin Church. Both the canons are studied exegetically with a reference to CIC 517, §2. Finally this chapter presents a critique on the translation of CCEO can. 287, §1 from its original language of Latin to English. in particular, and evaluates German, Italian, Spanish and French translations. The fourth chapter examines the responsibility of the hierarch to care for the faithful of the Church sui iuris in the situation of shortage of presbyters through the ministry of sacraments, sacramentals and funerals, however, taking into account the dispositions of the faithful living under such a situation. The thesis presents a few innovative pastoral means in the same context and the salient principles in the light of the post-CCEO teachings of John Paul II and the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.