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Vatican launches new ideas for “pastoral conversion” of parishes


The Vatican has published a document on “pastoral conversion,” reflecting on the parish. It defines parishes as an evangelizing mission service of the Church and says they must adapt to the needs of the faithful and societal changes.

CHANGE

The document says the Parish was created to bring the Gospel and Sacraments to the people of God, but the current model is not working. This is because the digital culture has expanded geographical borders, and merged languages and cultures, so parishes are not being used as before. 

This means, parishes should be adapted and met with creativity by the pastor and community. They must remain in close contact with those nearby, and be based on welcoming others, the sacrament of reconciliation and care for the poor. 

NEW MISSION

The parish mission should be characterized by communion and unity, something Pope Francis has spoken of before. 

POPE FRANCIS
Our parishes are invaded by many initiatives, where often, however, the life of the people is not deeply affected. You too are entrusted with the task of reviving, especially in this period, the life of our parish communities.

The document instructs parishes to teach parishioners how to listen and pray with the Gospel, so that it can be spread and communicated to others. Additionally, there should be ongoing catechesis to help Catholics foster a personal encounter with Christ. 

Human relationships should also be cultivated creatively, which leads to dialogue, solidarity and openness with others. 

CONVERSION

A parish should not be concerned about self-preservation, but rather people. Pastors must lead the parish and be open to “a significant change in mentality and interior renewal.” They should help the laity realize their role in carrying out this mission as well.  

Parishes cannot be closed or joined together simply due to a lack of clergy, financial problems or temporary problems. Bishops must write a formal decree explaining why any and all parishes must close.  

These instructions are a call for parishes, parish priests, bishops and laity, to respond to the changing world and one's vocation as a Catholic. 

Melissa Butz