Parish Finance Council of St. Peter the Rock Catholic Church assists the pastor in the administration of parish temporal matters. An active, well-formed Parish Finance Council is a key element for promoting the financial health of a parish, assuring accountability and assisting the pastor with his temporal responsibilities.
In the administration of temporal goods of the parish, Canon 532 defines the role of the pastor as the authoritative representative of the parish. “The pastor represents the parish in all juridic affairs in accord with the norm of law; he is to see to it that the goods of the parish are administered in accord with the norms of canons 1281-1288.”
Canon 537 introduces the Parish Finance Council as a mandated body having an advisory and consultative role with the pastor. “Each parish is to have a finance council which is regulated by universal law as well as by norms issued by the diocesan bishop; in this council the Christian faithful, selected according to the same norms, aid the pastor in the administration of parish goods with due regard for the prescription of canon 532.”
Consultative Body to Pastor
The Finance Council works closely with the pastor of St. Peter the Rock parish, who is accountable to the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta for the administration and stewardship of the temporal goods of the parish. The pastor, according to Canon Law, has among his responsibilities, the responsibility for parish financial and temporal management.
The Parish Finance Council is a consultative body that assists the pastor in meeting these obligations. While the Parish Finance Council does not have decision making authority, consultation is at the heart of the decision-making process – sharing information, listening, contributing to the discussion, and promoting consensus.
Canon law states that the pastor is obligated to consult the Finance Council on certain matters. Although the pastor is not obliged to follow the recommendations of the Finance Council, the pastor should not act against such advice, especially when there is consensus, unless there is an overriding reason. In other words, the prudent pastor would not ignore the advice of the Finance Council unless there was a serious reason to do so. When acting contrary to its recommendations the pastor should provide an explanation to the Finance Council regarding the reasons for his decision.
In order to be effective in their responsibilities as members of the Parish Finance Council, members should have a love for the Church and its mission and develop a thorough understanding of the parish’s mission, goals, people and other resources.
The members should have knowledge of Archdiocesan statutes and policies regarding temporal issues and other financial matters. It is the pastor’s responsibility to give the members appropriate background and enrichment so they are able to carry out their duties.
Dr. Carl Lane