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The Parish Finance Council assists the pastor in the administration of parish temporal matters. These guidelines are designed to aid Pastors and Finance Council members in the effective functioning of a Parish Finance Council by supporting the pastor in his stewardship of parish resources while being accountable to the parish and the diocesan bishop. 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. Canon 532 says:
“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. Canon 537 says:
“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.”
Every parish therefore is required to have a Parish Finance Council, both by adherence to the Code of Canon Law and by local norms issued by the diocesan bishop. To be effective the Parish Finance Council should meet regularly with specific agendas and should have access to all the relevant financial information and policies of the parish. The following is the structure of the Holy Spirit Parish Finance Council – “Parish Finance Council”. This structure is effective March 2010.
MISSION OF THE PARISH FINANCE COUNCIL
The Parish Finance Council works closely with the pastor, who is accountable to the diocesan bishop 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 Parish Finance Council on certain matters. Although the pastor is not obliged to follow the recommendations of the Parish 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 Parish 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 Parish Finance Council regarding the reasons for his decision.