This past February the Diocese announced
a plan to establish a Diocesan Pastoral Council.
VOTF-LI has analyzed the plan and has raised some questions and
made some recommendations. These have been communicated to the
Committee appointed by the Bishop to design the Council.
The Letter follows. Below the letter you will find a link to the
DRVC proposal as described in the LI Catholic.
Long Island Voice of the
P.O. Box 1007
Nesconset, NY 11767
May 9, 2005
Diocesan Pastoral Council
Diocese of Rockville Centre
Long Island, NY
Dear Members of the Working Committee:
We are pleased that Bishop Murphy
has decided to create a Diocesan Pastoral Council as suggested
by the priests of our diocese at the notable meeting in January
LI VOTF strongly endorses the creation
of this body. This council will be a fine example of the type
of structural change LI VOTF has been advocating. As such, we
believe that it is very important that this new council be truly
representative so that Catholics can be assured that their voices
are being heard.
Unfortunately, the formation and
function of the council as described in the Long Island Catholic
(Feb 16, 2005) raises some serious issues. Our concern is that
the council, as it is currently envisioned, is not representative.
Additionally, it appears to be very limited in its ability to
present the concerns of the faithful to Bishop Murphy.
The selection process will not result
in true representation of the faithful. To the contrary, it could
easily be interpreted that the multi-tiered selection process
is specifically designed to make sure that the council members
who emerge from this process will conform to the desires of the
local hierarchy and will not be a reflection of the views and
concerns of the faithful as a whole.
Specifically, the current plan raises
the following concerns:
- Potential members are selected by the pastor
and a parish pastoral council member, not by the parish community.
- The deanery discernment process, followed
by the working committee selection process, moves the faith
community one step farther away from having input as to who
will represent them.
- Bishop Murphy is given final say over who
will represent the community.
The make-up and voting requirements of the council give the appearance
of making it mathematically impossible for Bishop Murphy to hear
the authentic and broadly held views of the faithful.
- The proposed council has 22 members.
- Six members can be appointed by Bishop Murphy.
- It takes an eighty percent (80%) vote by the
council to even submit a recommendation to the Bishop. Therefore,
even if all of the sixteen representative members voted together
on a particular matter, the six appointed members could block
the recommendation. (16/22 = 73%)
Term and meeting frequency:
- Six-year terms may hinder fresh perspectives.
- Quarterly meetings are not sufficient for
the committee to learn to work well together or provide meaningful
recommendations on a timely basis.
Some suggestions for your
- Nominees should arise from the community and
be reviewed by the pastor and parish pastoral council to ensure
that they are active, representative, members of the community.
- The parish community would then elect their
representative from among the nominees.
- Appointed members should serve as non-voting
members of the council. The purpose of the appointed members
would be to advise the council and provide it with the information
necessary to give meaningful recommendations to the bishop.
- The council should be charged with drafting
and maintaining a charter consistent with its mission.
- The council should be encouraged to reach
out to members of the faith community and thus provide an open
avenue of two-way communication between the hierarchy and the
- Staggered terms could be two years with elected
members coming from parishes on a rotating basis.
The council should meet more frequently, preferably monthly.
The idea of a representative diocesan
council is excellent. If done properly, the formation of this
body would be a significant step in the right direction in meeting
the mandates of Vatican II and restoring trust and healing to
our diocese. Unfortunately, if not done properly, this could hinder
the restoration of trust and deepen the wounds that need to be
We would appreciate hearing from
you regarding our concerns and recommendations.
Co-Chairs, Board of Directors
||Most Reverend John C. Dunne
||Most Reverend Paul H. Walsh, DD
||Most Reverend Emil A. Wcela, DD
||Msgr. Richard Bennett
||Rev. Nicholas Figliola
||Sr. Lauren Hanley, CSJ
||Msgr. Richard Kopinski
||Msgr. Vincent Rush
||Msgr. Peter Ryan
Note- The Council is described in the Long
Island Catholic of February 16, 2005