Since my ordination as Bishop of Leeds, I have been looking carefully at how best to establish a Diocesan Pastoral Council. Having examined with great care the different models and constitutions of Pastoral Councils in dioceses around the world, and after a lengthy period of consultation with groups of laity and clergy in our Diocese, I inaugurated the Pastoral Council on Tuesday 29th January 2019 at Hinsley Hall, Leeds.
You may well be asking: ‘What is a Diocesan Pastoral Council and why does the bishop wish to establish one?’ A Diocesan Pastoral Council is “…composed of members of the faithful: clerics, members of institutes of consecrated life and especially laity”. The purpose of the council is to collaborate with the bishop in discerning and considering “…matters relating to pastoral activity and to formulate practical conclusions”. The council should also reflect “…the entire portion of the people of God which constitutes the diocese, taking account of the different regions of the diocese, of social conditions and professions, and of the part played in the apostolate by the members, whether individually or in association with others”.
The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity issued by the Second Vatican Council states that: “The laity has an active part of their own in the life and action of the Church. Their action within the Church communities is so necessary that without it the apostolate of the pastors will frequently be unable to obtain its full effect.” For this reason the Statutes for the Leeds Diocesan Pastoral Council have been drawn-up to try to involve all of the major Catholic lay organisations which exercise an apostolate within our Diocese, yet remain with a size of membership that will enable it to be focussed in its work. The knowledge, experience and the current concrete pastoral apostolate of these organisations will enable the Diocesan Pastoral Council to be more strategic and effective as a consultative body.
Please do pray for the new Diocesan Pastoral Council.
The Rt Rev Marcus Stock