Discussion on the Seminar paper: the Pastoral Ministry of a Parish Priest in the light of can.519 using the Nigerian context
Discussion on the Seminar paper: the Pastoral Ministry of a Parish Priest in the light of can.519 using the Nigerian context by Sr. Cheluchi Emenike, DDL
The following points were made:
• Many of the Pentecostal churches do have the same kind of crowd we have in our parishes and they are capitalizing on our failures to reach out to our people. Some will send people to their homes after attending Mass to talk them over to their church. Parish Priests can still do something. He should ensure he fulfils his duty of visiting parishioners. They really appreciate such visits. He may not finish the visits in a year but he should make it an important part of his program. Many priests do not know that at Easter period there is the rite of blessings of families in their home.
• Again, the basic communities should be strengthened. Many pastoral Assistants including lay assistant can be encouraged so that there will be people fulfilling some pastoral duties like communion to the sick. Legionaries and charismatics should be encouraged to reach out to people. There should always be program going on in the Church. Lay people should be trained to lead at many of such programs.
• Every age grade in the parish should be given special attention. Holiday program for our children, couples retreat and seminars, singles retreat and fora, leadership workshop, etc.
• No one priest has all, he can invite others to assist him. Collaboration with other priests and religious can help in many of this. If a priest or religious or lay person is gifted in some areas we should use the gift with moderate supervision.
On the issue of refusing a Christian burial by some parish priests to a baptised member of the Church who was also in full communion with the Church before his or her death, the following observations were made:
• Some bishops have written and condemned this attitude of refusing a Christian burial to a baptised member of the Church who was also in full communion with the Church before his or her death. This particular law, however, exists only in paper and not in reality.
• “Real life is larger than the law, canon law has the West as background. This is the reason that the question of the adequacy of canon in our own environment is recurrent”.
• In one diocese, the practice is that the priest can bury the deceased abroad member who is duly certified by the parish priest of the deceased’s domicile but the Christian community has no “social obligation” since the deceased had none for others while he or she lived.
• That general practice notwithstanding, we cannot neglect the fact the of limitations of the code in our own background, and may try to proffer lasting solution.
• The solution is not law but convincing the parish priests to accept their obligation to bury deceased faithful and also to convince their parishioners to accept same. Once the parish priests are not convinced, no law can solve the problem because almost every law has a backdoor through which it can be violated.