Monday, March 12, 2007


Bishop Robert Vasa, Diocese of Baker



61. It is the Pastor’s responsibility to assure that all those who serve in the Parish in the various capacities as Catechists, Liturgical Readers, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and Cantors assent to the Affirmation of Personal Faith. Since Youth Ministers, DRE’s, Catholic School Teachers and other Pastoral Associates likewise exercise a teaching ministry, albeit in some cases more indirectly, they too are required to make a statement of assent.

62. Those already serving in various parochial ministries who are unable or unwilling to make this personal affirmation are asked to take some additional time to consider the matter, seek counsel with their Pastors and are then either to make the affirmation or inform their Pastors that they are no longer able to serve as they have done in the past.

63. This will undoubtedly be difficult and painful for some of those who feel very strongly that such an affirmation is unjust and unnecessary or who believe that their disagreements with the Church are somehow in accord with a more enlightened vision of the Church. Nonetheless, I believe it would be wrong for me to allow those holding to erroneous views to continue in ministerial roles. To do so would be hesitating, as Saint Gregory notes, to say openly what is right because of a fear of losing the favor of men.

64. My dear ministers, please know that when I assign you to various, truly Sacred Duties the faithful people of the Diocese have a right to expect that I approve and condone that which you hold to be true and good and holy. I cannot represent to them something which I have not attempted conscientiously to ascertain. For your part, when you are commissioned to serve in the name of the Church, the other faithful truly do look to you to present to and for them those things, in a clear and undistorted fashion, which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God. Genuine service to them requires that you not, at the same time, reject the very things which that same Catholic Church teaches.

65. It is the Pastor’s responsibility to ascertain, to the best of his ability and in a fashion he deems most appropriate, the assent of those who serve under his direction. In some cases individuals have voluntarily signed documents attesting to their assent. This is noteworthy and commendable. In other instances a simple verbal affirmation to the Pastor that one has no difficulties with the teachings of the Church as presented in The Catechism of the Catholic Church is sufficient.

66. An affirmation that one follows the teachings of the Church as one "understands" them, or "in accord with one’s own conscience" or "as interpreted by some theologians" is not sufficient. The Pastor must be convinced of the sincerity of those making the Affirmation of Personal Faith and so indicate on the form to be submitted to the Diocese.

67. When individuals make, or have made, public statements opposing some element of Catholic teaching they maynot be admitted to roles of service noted above unless they make a retraction of their former statements in a forum commensurate to or broader than the one in which they voiced their dissent. In these instances, especially, the Pastor must be convinced of the sincerity of the applicant in accepting the teachings of the Church and in making retractions.

68. Forms will be provided to each Pastor on which he is to list those of various categories whom he wishes to propose for service in the Church. On that form the Pastor affirms that all those listed fulfill the requirements identified in Diocesan Statutes and in Giving Testimony to the Truth. The pastoral vigilance of the Bishop is thereby appropriately delegated to the Pastors who are reminded of their duty to fulfill this munus regale with all conscientiousness.

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