Pontifical University of the Holy Cross - Faculty Of Canon Law

Juridical Manifestations of the Presbyterium

Reverend Gary L. Coulter

A Research Paper Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the License in Canon Law

Directed by the Rev. Prof. Dr. Luis Navarro

Roma, 2004

The Second Vatican Council has rediscovered and valued the presbyterium, understood as the body of priest who participate in the ministry and governance of a diocese (particular church). The priests of the presbyterium are to be the primary collaborators and co-workers with the Bishop, while always under his authority. The theological and ecclesiological renewals of the Council have placed this concept, already present in the early church, into a new light. A priest belongs not only to the Ordo presbyterorum from priestly ordination, but is also a member of a presbyterium, within which he exercises his ministry in favor of a particular Church.

This thesis first examines the presbyterium in the light of the teaching the Council and postconcilar magisterial documents. Then one sees that the presbyterium creates not only a theological relationship between priests (and the bishop), but also has juridical manifestations. Thus, I examine the juridical institutions that can manifest and contribute to the building-up of the presbyterium, leading to a more fruitful participation and collaboration of priests in their diocese. This teaching of Vatican II still needs to be applied, as the knowledge and revitalization of presbyterium desire by the Council has not yet been realized.

Download the entire Thesis as a Word Document (528k)
I suggest reading the Introduction, Chapter 1 and Chapter 4, or the published summaries below.

New Summaries Published: The Presbyterium of the Diocese (Homiletic & Pastoral Review, April 2005) and Priestly Common Life and Associations (Homiletic & Pastoral Review, October 2005)

Table of Contents


Terminology and Translation

Chapter 1: The Presbyterium

Scriptural Foundations
In the Early Fathers of the Church
The Loss of the Concept of Presbyterium
In the Second Vatican Council
Some Clarifications

Chapter 2: The Presbyterium at the Diocesan Level

Presbyteral Council
College of Consultors and the Cathedral Chapter
The Diocesan Synod
Diocesan Curia

Chapter 3: The Presbyterium at the Intra-Diocesan Level

The Vicar Forane and Episcopal Vicar
The Parish Pastor
The Parochial Vicar
The Parish In Solidum

Chapter 4: Reinforcements of the Presbyterium

Common Life
Priestly Associations
Ongoing Formation and Priestly Meetings



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