On Assignment Policies
A. BASIC REFERENCE POINTS
In general, there are three pivotal reference terminals that should be considered in the formulation of Assignment Policies for the Clergy in a Particular Church whereto they are incardinated for service: First, the different and manifold pastoral and administrative needs of the People of God in the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction according to their various conditions and particular circumstances in life; second, the number, charism and aptitude of the Clergy who must thereto respond in pastoral and/or administrative service; third, the competent Church Authority expressedly enjoined to foster and sustain, direct and coordinate all the apostolic agenda in the Archdiocese especially through the Ministries of the Clergy.
And in the matter specifically of any assignment or appointment to any office or task in the Church, the Theology of Stewardship proclaims that the Church and any pastoral and administrative office therein for that matter, is infinitely much bigger, definitely more lasting and certainly more significant than its mere mortal Holder who is always but temporary steward of the Good Lord in a Vineyard that is in divine truth really His in ownership and in dominion.
The Ministerial Priesthood is a vocation and a mission, a discipleship .and an Apostolate, a life and a mystery. No mere canonical norms, no mere human policies wherefore can adequately provide for it. Still, pastoral order and ecclesiastical discipline dictate that the actual exercise of the Priestly Ministry should be regulated by reason illumined by faith.
B. GENERAL PRINCIPLES
1. Christus Dominus
a. “Bishops should do their utmost to ensure that the activities of evangelization and the Apostolate are zealously supported and promoted by the faithful” (No. 6).
b. “All priests, diocesan or religious, share and exercise with the Bishop the one Priesthood of Christ… The diocesan Clergy have, however, a primary role in the care of souls because, being incardinated in or appointed to a Particular Church, they are wholly dedicated in its service… In order to allot the sacred ministries more suitably and more equitably among his priests, the bishop must have the requisite liberty in making appointments” (No. 28).
c. “In forming judgment as to the suitability of/a Priest … the Bishop should take into consideration not only his learning but also his piety, his zeal for the Apostolate, and those other gifts and qualities which are necessary for the proper care of souls” (No. 31).
2. Code of Canon Law
a. “An ecclesiastical office is any position which by divine or ecclesiastical disposition is established in a stable manner to further a spiritual purpose. The duties and rights to each ecclesiastical office are defined either by law establishing the office, or by a decree of the competent Authority not only establishing and also conferring it.” (Canon 145 par 1-2 dC).
b. “Unless the law expressedly states otherwise, it is the prerogative of the diocesan Bishop to make appointments to’ecclesiastical offices in his own particular Church by free conferral.” (Canon 157 CIC).
c. “An ecclesiastical office is lost on the expiry of a predetermined time, on reaching the age limit defined by law; by resignation; by transfer; by removal; by deprivation.” (Canon 184 par 1 CIC).
d. “A person may not be removed from an office conferred for an indefinite period of time except for grave reasons and according to the procedure determined by law. The same holds for the removal of someone from an office conferred for a specified period of time before the expiration of the term…” (Canon 193 pars. 1-2 CIC).
e. “A grave reason is required if a transfer is made against the will of the holder of the office, without prejudice to the right of presenting reasons contrary to the transfer, and with due observance of the procedure prescribed by law.” (Canon 190 par 2 CIC).
f. “For a resignation to be valid, whether it requires acceptance or not, it must be made to the Authority which is competent to provide for the office concerned … The Authority is not to accept a resignation which is not based on a just and proportionate reason.” (Canon 189 pars. 1-2 CIC).
g. “A pastor ought to possess stability in office, and therefore, he is to be appointed for an indefinite period of time; the diocesan Bishop however can appoint him for a certain period of time only if a Decree of the Conference of Bishops allows this” (Canon 522). The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines with the approval of the Holy See, allowed a definite tenure for Parish Priests (CBCP 27 September 1985).
3. Directory on the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops
a. “In making use of the human resources of those who cooperate in serving the Church, the Bishop is led by supernatural considerations, and by pursuing above all the good of souls, he preserves the dignity of persons by employing their talents in the most fitting and useful a way for the service of the community and by placing the right person in the right place.” (No. 98).
b. “The Bishop directs the use of priestly energies, keeping in mind both supernatural considerations and the true needs of organized pastoral action. Above all, he takes into account the good of souls and the needs of the Diocese without however neglecting the talents and abilities of individual Priests:. ‘ (No. 115).
c. “The Bishop takes care not to put inexperienced people haphazardly, as it were, in charge of offices and services. Rather, he sees that they first have the necessary training, whether technical or theological, and pastoral, and that they are then gradually introduced into the various fields of their special work. He also sees that those who are no longer suitable are not kept in office.” (No. 209, e.).
C. PARTICULAR NORMS
Considering the pastoral good and administrative welfare of the People of God in this Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and attending to the consensus of the Presbyterium for this Particular Church, the following normative provisions are enacted in the matter of the assignments of the Members of the local Diocesan Clergy in the light and context of the above Basic Reference Points and General Principles — and subject to the expressed canonical requirements and to the standard personal attributes needed for the offices concerned:
1. All assignments of pastoral nature carry a tenure of six consecutive years, subject to an extension of three consecutive years for just am reasonable cause — except for Parochial Vicars with a tenure of t consecutive years, subject to an extension of one year for just reasonable cause.
2. All assignments of administrative nature carry a tenure of three years, subject to a extension of another term of three years for just and reasonable cause.
3. All things being substantively equal in conjunction with the pastoral and/or administrative agenda considered and in relation to the canonical and personal qualifications of those concerned, seniority in Priestly Ordination assumes greater and consequently more accountable pastoral and/or administrative assignments.
4. All Members of the Diocesan Clergy have their retirement from any and all major pastoral and/or administrative offices at their sixty fifth birthday, with the option however to assume any auxiliary pastoral and! or administrative assignments.
5. All major pastoral and administrative assignments in the Archdiocese are officially confirmed and directly given by the Archbishop with the advisory of the Board of Assignments composed of the Vicar General, the Vicars Forane, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools, and a presbyteral Representative from every Vicariate elected by the Priests constituents thereof. For assignments that are minor at the judgment of the Archbishop, he seeks counsel directly from the Members of the Clergy concerned therewith.
This Instrument may be amended in part or as a whole upon the formal instance of at least two-thirds majority of all the active Members of the Diocesan Clergy and with the expressed approval of the Archbishop.
These Statutes takes effect upon official promulgation by the Archbishop and continues to be effective until and unless otherwise provided.
CHRIST OUR GOOD SHEPHERD, BE WITH US ALWAYS!
The Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan
(Central Pangasinan, Philippines)