Thursday, April 26, 2012
Members: Archbishop Joseph (Chairman), Bishop Theodosy, Bishop Mark
Consultants: Fr. Ian G. Pac-Urar, Fr. Timothy Baclig, Fr. Ion Gherman, Dr. Stephen Muse
Secretariat Liaison: Constantin Ursache
The Committee for Pastoral Practice is responsible for i) identifying the differences and inconsistencies among the various jurisdictions in their exercise of sacramental and pastoral praxis and ii) for establishing a protocol to address these inconsistencies and propose models for resolution consistent with canonical practice.
The Committee for Pastoral Practice held three meetings in 2011:
The Committee first met by conference call on July 15. The Terms of Reference given by the Assembly of Bishops were reviewed, and the Committee formally structured. The Committee noted that several of the identified fields imply future collaboration with other Committees of the Assembly of Bishops.
The Committee met again in Los Angeles on September 24 as guests of Archbishop Joseph and St. Nicholas Cathedral. Methods and procedures for data collection were determined and a tentative timeline was established. Additional consultants were identified for each of the areas of pastoral practice, to be called upon as data collection and analysis progresses.
On October 26, 2011, Frs. Ian Pac-Urar and Timothy Baclig led a webinar for seventeen new, practice area consultants. The Terms of Reference were discussed, initial goals were established, and data gathering and analysis procedures were explained. The webinar was recorded and archived online for reference by Committee members and consultants. Additionally, official policy documents are archived online as they are received from each jurisdiction.
The tasks of the Committee for Pastoral Practice are given in the Terms of Reference (see http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/committees/pastoral). These tasks have been organized by the Committee into three phases.
Phase I (completed 2011):
Ten fields of Pastoral Practice have been identified: Baptism/Chrismation/Conversion; Marriage; Confession/Communion; Holy Unction/Anointing; Funerals; Hospital Chaplaincy/Visitation of the Sick; Divorce among Clergy and Laity; Pastoral Aspects of Clergy Misconduct; Pastoral Aspects of Clergy Release and Transfer; Reception of Roman Catholic Clergy.
Analysis of the documents received to date reveals that many jurisdictions have no centrally articulated, official, written policies for certain fields of pastoral practice. As the Committee continues its work, surveys and interviews will be used to fill the gaps in the data set.
Phase II (in progress 2012):
As data are collected from each jurisdiction and in each field of practice, a matrix for that field is being developed. The result will be a set of tables clearly identifying the elements of each practice and identifying the commonalities and variations across jurisdictions for each practice.
In the interest of obtaining a generalized view of the pastoral practices across jurisdictions, the Committee has focused first on jurisdictional policies. The result will be a catalog of commonalities and variations between jurisdictions, as reflected in official policies, surveys and interview data. Deeper investigation into variation and degrees of compliance within a jurisdiction is a delicate matter requiring sophistication, sensitivity and trust. As jurisdictions and their relevant personalities become familiar with the research process it may become more practical to collect the appropriate data.
Phase III (projected 2013):
1. Propose models for resolution that are consistent with canonical practice. (Anticipated, 2013)
a. Determine and evaluate theological and ecclesiological ramifications for the variances
b. Strategize on possible models for resolution
Models for resolution will vary with the particular conditions and requirements of each field of pastoral practice. The Committee anticipates a series of conferences beginning in 2013, bringing together canonists, pastoral theologians, and administrators from each jurisdiction. The data collected and analyzed in Phases I and II will inform the conferences and provide starting points for their work. Theological and ecclesiological ramifications will be thoroughly examined in a reflective and rigorous setting. Resolution will be achieved by the consensus of relevant persons from the jurisdictions, rather than by decision of the Committee.
The task of identifying and cataloging the pastoral practices of the sixty-odd dioceses in the eleven jurisdictions of the Assembly of Bishops is gargantuan. We are grateful to the members of the Committee, Bishops Theodosy and Mark, and to the consultants for their efforts. We are especially thankful for the goodwill and co-operation shown by the many jurisdictional hierarchs and administrators in providing the relevant data to the Committee as we work and pray for the future unity of all Orthodox Christians in America, in faith and in practice.
In Christ Our Lord,
Archbishop Joseph, Chairman
The Committee for Pastoral Practice