Congregation for the Clergy, Removal of a pastor from office, 2006, Private.


This entry concerns the non-penal removal of a pastor from office. Of particular concern was to document efforts to resolve the issue with the pastor without resorting to canonical measures. After persuasion failed, the bishop initiated the procedure outlined in cc. 1742-1747. The priest petitioned the bishop to reconsider his decision. The bishop believed his decision to seek the pastor's removal was for the "good of the Church " and refused. The priest sought recourse to the Congregation for Clergy. In the Congregation's response, it referred to canon 57, which sets a three months' time limit to submit supporting evidence for recourse. The Congregation acted promptly after the three month period expired. Canons 1734-1737 set the specific deadlines that apply to recourse on the diocesan level. What follows are the bishop's decree of removal and the Congregation's response to the priest's petition for recourse:




DECREE OF REMOVAL

By the Grace of God and the Apostolic See

Bishop of _____

The proposal to remove Reverend _____ from his office as pastor of _____ was made by letter on _____, continued by letter dated _____, and repeated by me personally in a meeting held on _____.

The principles and norms of canon law have been diligently observed in discerning and communicating and communicating this proposal, namely:

a) A canonical reason for removal has been determined, that, is, conduct deleterious to the good order of the parish community and reflective of a serious lack of sound judgment. Evidence of this reason, developed under [several] headings, has been gathered and placed on file at the [chancery], including [various reports and correspondence].

b) The required consultation with two pastors, Reverend _____ and Reverend _____, were held on _____ and on _____. These two consultors were chosen from the list of pastor-consultors selected by the Presbyteral Council of this Diocese at its meeting of _____.

c) Father _____ exercised his right to inspect the acts on _____, accompanied by his canonical advisor, Reverend _____.

d) A rebuttal has been offered twice in opposition to the removal, first by letter on _____ and again by letter on _____. In sum, Father _____ rebuts the allegations against him [by claiming that some were false and on other points he corrected his behavior].

e) After considering the matter and having heard the advice of the two pastor consultants, I have found Father 's _____ rebuttal insufficient to retract the proposed removal for the following reasons: [most of the points at issue were either ignored or even admitted while directing attention elsewhere; also, given the concrete details of the case, his denials lacked credibility].

Therefore, I, the undersigned, Bishop of _____, in virtue of my pastoral office and in conformity with the Code of Canon Law, hereby decree the removal of the Reverend _____, effective immediately upon his written notification of this decree.

In accord with the provision of canon 1746,1 am making provision for Father _____ by assignment to another pastoral office. That assignment is specified in a separate letter of this date to be sent to Father _____ along with this decree.

Moreover, Father _____ is advised that if he has just cause to lodge recourse against this action, he must first abide by the norm of canon 1734 and petition revocation or emendation of this decree. This petition must be proposed directly to me within ten available days.

Given at the offices of the Curia.

/s/ Diocesan Bishop

/s/ Vice-Chancellor




The Congregation for the Clergy sent the following cover letter to the bishop, along with a decree, in response to the pastor's petition for hierarchical recourse:




CONGREGATIO PRO CLERICIS

VATICAN CITY

Your Excellency,

By letter dated _____ and received _____, this Congregation received notice that Reverend _____, a priest of your jurisdiction, was seeking hierarchical recourse against your decree removing him as Pastor of _____. After a delay, but within the timelines allowed for this Congregation to respond pursuant to canon 57, This Congregation recently received the documentation relating to Father _____'s recourse.

Enclosed is our canonical response to Reverend _____.

With assurances of prayers and best wishes, I remain

Yours sincerely in Christ,

/s/ Secretary




CONGREGATIO PRO CLERICIS

DECREE

Whereas by Decree dated _____, His Excellency Bishop _____ directed that the procedure for the removal of a pastor set forth in canons 1742-1747 be initiated against the Reverend _____, Pastor of _____ in the Diocese of _____;

Whereas, on _____, the Most Reverend Bishop consulted with two pastors chosen from a group established by the Council of Priests pursuant to can. 1742, §1;

Whereas, by letter dated _____, the Most Reverend Bishop indicated the causes and arguments for the removal of Reverend _____ in conformity with cann. 1740 and 1741 and paternally asked that Reverend _____ resign his parish within (15) days;

Whereas, by letter dated _____, Reverend _____ declined the Most Reverend Bishop's invitation to resign pursuant to can. 1745;

Whereas, on _____, pursuant to the invitation of the Most Reverend Bishop, Reverend _____ and his canonical advocate inspected the acta relating to the removal pursuant to can. 1745, 1°;

Whereas, by letter dated _____, Reverend _____ organized his objections in a written report and offered proofs against the reasons for his removal pursuant to can. 1745, 1°;

Whereas, the Most Reverend Bishop again consulted with the two pastors he had previously consulted on _____, pursuant to can, 1745, 2°;

Whereas, the Most Reverend Bishop issued a Decree dated _____, whereby he removed Reverend _____ from the office of Pastor of _____;

Whereas, by letter to the Congregation for the Clergy dated _____ the Reverend _____ made hierarchical recourse against the Decree of the Most Reverend Bishop dated _____;

NOW, THEREFORE, the Congregation for the Clergy, after carefully reviewing the recourse and the acta provided by the Most Reverend Bishop, hereby decrees:

The cause and arguments given by the Most Reverend Bishop for the removal were upheld in the light of cann. 1740 and 1741;

The Most Reverend Bishop scrupulously followed the process provided in cann. 1740-1747 for the removal of a pastor; and further;

The recourse of Reverend _____ against the Decree of His Excellency, Bishop _____, dated _____, removing Reverend _____ as Pastor of _____ in the Diocese of _____, is rejected because there exist no errors in decernendo or in procedendo.

Given at the Seat of the Congregation for the Clergy.

/s/Signature




Congregation for the Clergy, Removal of a pastor from office, 2006, Private, CLSA, Roman Replies and Advisory Opinions, 2006, 35-38.