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Lima archbishop proposes replacing priests with laity as pastors

David Ramos By David Ramos for CNA

Archbishop Carlos Castillo of Lima. (Image: ANDINA / Norman Córdova)

Lima, Peru, Aug 12, 2021 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The Archbishop of Lima last month presented his proposal to replace priests with lay people in parishes in the Peruvian capital.

Archbishop Carlos Gustavo Castillo Mattasoglio said during a July 21 conference that he is asking the Vatican for permission for lay persons to be given the administration of parishes.

The archbishop said that “there is a philosophy of the simple daily life of the people that we have to take up again.”

“I think that, as a Church, we are going to have to work hard to provide a Church closer to the people with greater equality,” he continued.

Archbishop Castillo then said, “This is what I’m trying to do right now, I went to Rome, I was there a long time, a month. I am encouraging them to give me permission for various things that are not allowed, right? ”

“For example, for them to give me permission for families, or couples, or groups of married couples or older lay adults to take over parishes because it’s better to send priests to study a little, right?”

The Archbishop of Lima proposed “that the laity act as pastors or heads of churches, keeping the communities up and running as they do when they [the priests] go to Europe.”

“In Europe there are many things in churches in Paris, for example, that lay people have gotten up and running, and they keep the Christian community going without the need for priests.”

“Then there’s a priest who celebrates Mass for them once a week or twice on Sunday, whatever it may be; but we have to think of more egalitarian ways, closer to the people,” he said.

Moments later, Archbishop Castillo said that this is what “synodality” refers to and that “we did that in the consultation we made in the synodal assembly” of the Archdiocese of Lima.

“There were 800 delegates and we agreed on how to make the Church of Lima,” he said.

The archbishop also said that “the pope wants the Church on a Latin American and global level to consult about how the future should be, and organize itself according to the agreement that the authorities have together with the people themselves and thus move forward.”

Archbishop Castillo’s proposal is contrary to canon law, as he himself recognized.

The Code of Canon Law defines a parish as “a certain community of the Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular church, whose pastoral care is entrusted to a pastor (parochus) as its proper pastor (pastor) under the authority of the diocesan bishop,” and that a “to become a pastor validly, one must be in the sacred order of the presbyterate.”

Only as an exception “due to a shortage of priests” does canon law allow a bishop to entrust “the pastoral care of a parish to a deacon, to another person who is not a priest, or to a community of persons.”

But even in these cases, the Code of Canon Law establishes that the bishop “is to appoint some priest who, provided with the powers and faculties of a pastor, is to direct the pastoral care.”

In 2019, the Archdiocese of Lima reported having 487 priests, of whom 206 were diocesan, and 124 parishes.

Archbishop Castillo, 71, was a professor of theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru from 1987 until his 2019 appointment as ordinary of the Lima archdiocese.

At his episcopal consecration it was Fr. Gustavo Guttierez who formally asked the nuncio that Castillo be made a bishop.

Archbishop Castillo studied social sciences at the National University of San Marcos in Lima, and did ecclesiastical studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained a priest of the Lima archdiocese in 1984.

Besides serving in various parishes, he was also counselor of the National Union of Catholic Students from 1987-1998 and vicar for youth ministry in Lima from 1996-1999.

From 1990-2001 Castillo was national advisor for the youth commission of the Peruvian bishops’ conference.

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  1. “ The archbishop said that “there is a philosophy of the simple daily life of the people that we have to take up again.””

    This, like everything else the archbishop said on the subject, is utter and unmitigated drivel.

    If he has such a poor view of the priesthood, he must be a lousy priest himself and is judging based on himself. Perhaps he should have the decency to resign and go run a parish.

    • A man with no religious faith believes he can recreate the innate faculties of creation. When I argue with numbskull pro-aborts who call themselves “pro-choice,” I point out that they can not be “for” that which is already an innate quality of human existence. One can not be pro-choice anymore than they can be pro-eyeball or pro-earlobe. Similarly, this numbskull of a bishop can not figure out that he can not make people “more egalitarian.” We already are all equal before God, despite having different responsibilities and obligations in life. Only a non-believer can not figure out something so self-evident.

  2. This so-called bishop is a servant of the spirit of anti-Christ, who falsely pursued ordination as priest and bishop, and lives now only to destroy the Holy Eucharist.

    Men like this Bishop are counterfeit men, living double lives as parasites eating the Church alive from the inside. This Bishop and others like him should be stripped of office and laicized, opposed with fasting and prayer, and confronted as commanded by Jesus in Matthew 18, and if he refuses to admit his apostasy, he should be publicly excommunicated.

    A Church that believes in the death and resurrection of Jesus would never allow such a man to speak like this from a Bishop’s chair.

  3. He might just be a lunatic! What credibility would these “LayPastors” have and what would happen to the credibility of our Church?

  4. I agree that priests have a tremendous amount of responsibility and need more priests in the parishes. But aren’t parishes shrinking? And isn’t the reason for celibacy so that bishops/priests can focus on feeding the sheep? Maybe if there were more bishops/priests being true pastors representing Christ instead of being focused on personal, political, or far left “equality” agendas, the parishes would flourish again – the Church would flourish again.

    We saw what has happened to mainline Protestant churches when laity take over…they’re the churches with gay pride flags hanging next to their Christian flags…they’re the churches that support abortion and question the fundamental dogmas of the historic Church…they’re the churches that push far left ideologies. Of course I’m not sure our current bishops/priests (in general) are doing a better job at leading.

  5. Should this man be an archbishop? I sounds like to me he wants layman to act in the person of priests which are “in persona Christi”. Am I readying this correctly.
    His whole article is ridiculous and should NOT be said, especially by an archbishop!
    Let us remember, Christ did NOT give the keys of heaven and the power to loose and bind on earth which will be loosed and bound in heaven, to a ““synodality”. He gave it to Peter and only Peter!

  6. The word for this protestantism. The «poor» must be getting quite sick of being invoked for every initiative proposed by ageing prelates who remember Che Guevara.
    That those who offer the Holy Sacrifice, indeed the Holy Sacrifice itself are secondary to this Great Religious Reset is evident.

  7. Leslie I think you miss the broader issue here. The question is what is a priest and what is his main duties. A priest for sure is ordained for the Sacramental life of the Church. Many a spiritual Godly priest has been destroyed because they had no administrative skills. There are plenty of people in a parish who have expertise to worry about leaking roofs , heating and cooling problems etc. The bills that need to be paid and plenty of good capable people who can run the secretarial issues of a parish. Many parishes already have Business Managers to run the business side of a parish.
    To me this upgrading the priesthood not lowering it.Just my two cents.

    • I agree with you, but many of us can already see where this will be heading. We are already at the mercy of our “pastoral assistant administrators” who just don’t have the parish’s best interests at heart. They wind up controlling everything to their own advantage and then we can never appeal to the “real” pastor, because he abdicates most of his decision-making powers to some ignorant wannabe priest.

  8. Great idea! NOT. Soon you’ll be able to name your diocesan church Congregationalist. Why stop at lay pastors on the parish level? Why not do away with bishops altogether and have laymen and women running the diocesan church? In fact, why not have a layman or woman be Pope since Francis has dispensed with his title as Vicar of Christ. I think it’s time to rename the Catholic Church and call it the Church of LCD…the Church of the Least Common Denominator.

  9. Unfortunately. The Peruvian bishop has socialist ideas and is supportive of the new “president” (a communist linked to shinning path a el know terrorist group) whose election was questionable and surrounded by fraud.

  10. Disconcerting is a woman presenting herself at the podium prior to Mass who announces that she’s the Leader, then after lengthy quoting of what’s already in the bulletin announces the Gospel passage, paraphrases it, then gives a brief but detailed homily. Asks for silence. Then begins reading the entrance psalm. Finally the priest enters as if a mere matter of consequence. Now it gets worse. At least in Lima. Either a priest is by ordination a pastor of the faithful or he’s not. By Christ’s transference of authority to the Apostles he alone has the authority to shepherd. Archbishop Castillo suffers the false magnanimity that priestly authority is pompous. That the Church instead of reaching toward the starry heavens should be flat and obsequious. Canon law allows bishops to entrust the pastoral care of a parish to a deacon, a person, or community of persons”. Added however is the admonition that the bishop “is to appoint some priest provided with the powers and faculties of a pastor to direct pastoral care.” This latter is too often ignored by bishops. Bishops seem more concerned with financial management and meeting more basic pastoral needs like manpower, rather than the canonical attachments that provide for better pastoral management. It downgrades the office of presbyter disheartening to many and likewise reduces laity appreciation of his role.

    • Fr. Peter Morello, I, for a time, was attending Mass at a parish where a nun read the Gospel at Mass and gave lengthy sermons. The parish priest was very Traditional. That really confused me. Later I learned this nun was known to be feisty and demanding. On a different but similar note, I attended a Tridentine Mass at San Juan Capistrano. I was upset that a Tridentine Mass would have female lectors. Standing for Communion only. The Old Mass and the New Mass were intermingled. I have experienced these incidents at just about every Novus Ordo Mass. These are the ones Francis should write a Motu Proprio similar to the one for the TLM. These cases cause confusion and division and are very anti-Vatican ll. The crux of the problem is that Bishops give blanket permission for such things to take place. Perhaps better, a Motu Proprio on the illicit activities of Bishops.

      • Much of this comes down to the same old problem. Church hierarchy and local priests afraid to assert their authority for fear of creating conflict. The church is NOT a secular institution and libbers and others of a socialist bent need to be told that loud and clear. It has never pretended to be secular, nor formally backing secular values.Recent pronouncements by the hierarchy on secular matters like immigration law add to this confusion, and has been a huge mistake.. That is not the job entrusted to them. Render to Caesar, remember? If the priest at the parish you reference was really traditional, he should NEVER have allowed a nun, no matter how feisty, to preach and read the gospel.Too bad if she didnt like it. It isnt true that having pews filled with people who are dismantling the church are better than fewer people in the pews. The hierarchy needs to grasp that and remain true to the mission, not true to secularism.

  11. He may be an archbishop and a theology professor, but this guy knows nothing. He ought to be busted back down to a priest and be hidden away in a monastery where he can’t do any more damage with his ludicrous and anti-Catholic ideas. As Bugs Bunny used to say: “What a maroon!”

  12. Our priests have been demoralized since Vatican ll. They no longer seem to have a ministry. It all has to be handed to the laity (woman only of course). Why would a young man who has a calling to the priesthood enter a Seminary for a lifetime of the laity being over them. I’ve seen this since the ’70s. It was done in the name of Vatican ll, yet Vatican ll never called for this demoralization of priests.

  13. What in the world’s been going on in Latin America? It seems like things never moved past the 1970’s there. I remember getting frustrated with my Maryknoll Missionary magazine decades ago & cancelling because of the same sort of nonsense. There must be a special time warp for the Church down there. Goodness.

  14. I know dozens of priests who would happily give up all their finance meetings, deferred maintenance walkthroughs, and administrative phonecalls.
    I know at least one that said “if I ever lose my vocation it will be because of the endless meetings.”

    I know most old folk here are fuming and blaming everything unhappy in their lives with socialism like usual, but it’s worth thinking about what exactly we ask priests to do as they manage these old, falling-apart buildings when there aren’t many of them to begin with.

    • Thank you for a little more perspective. While in Los Angeles I was preparing to be a Parish Life Leader, but I am now in Lima, Peru. There are communities in the Lima area, and more in the mountain regions, and “selva,” that do not have priests. I read the statement of the archbishop and I infer that he is referring to the programs similar to what Los Angeles has. I am not Liberal, progressive and much less leftist. I recommend that people making harsh statements about the archbishop read what he has stated or preached in Spanish. I do not listen to Spanish commentators interpret what is happening in the United States. I am trying to be open and forgiving of most the “news” networks in the U.S., while devouring everything stated by Dennis Prager, Mark Levin and Larry Elder.

  15. This man was made archbishop in order to humiliate his predecessor, Cardinal Ciprani whom Francis pretended to befriend for years. ASAP Francis accepted Ciprani’s retirement letter at 75 and nominated Castillo immediately. Cardinal Ciprani had many run-ins with Castillo’s university. Hagan lo!

  16. “Then there’s a priest who celebrates Mass for them once a week or twice on Sunday, whatever it may be; but we have to think of more egalitarian ways, closer to the people,” he said.

    Please don’t resurrect this kind of thinking again. I lived this terrible scene in my parish. It’s a horrible experience and destructive. When this first started the newly ordained pastor suggested (1980) that the laity should do everything and the priest should only come and celebrate Mass. Now, forty year hence, we have three priests and they all take the same day off, while women do the Communion service and give a so called homily. Let me tell you—–this is certainly not what I would call being closer to the people—it’s just the opposite. I’m going back to my rocking chair and pray. I know God is still in the Blessed Sacrament behind locked church doors, however, my mind cannot be locked out.

  17. Caritas in veritate when we comment. Otherwise, our Christian witness is destroyed. In Acts 6:1-15, we read that the apostles themselves chose and appointed helpers. They delegated the logistics of the charitable work of the Church to others so that they could continue to devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. As an exercise of and in affirmation of their leadership, our pastors and parish priests should be able to do the same, whether their helpers be deacons or laity.

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