"Un Ti Morceau"

"A Little Something," mini-lessons and reflections by our pastor, Father Paul Counce

Vicar General

Published April 19, 2015 by Fr. Paul Counce

The last few morceaux have been considering the ministry of governance in the Church, a role which is exercised by bishops and the priests who are their coworkers. I’ve mentioned that the authority exercised ultimately is Christ’s own authority, but that the manner in which its exercised has a lot to do with the job and personality of the individual.

Due to the recent appointment in our Diocese of Baton Rouge of a new face, it’s a nice idea to highlight the roles that these play on the local scene.

On March 23, 2015, the bishop appointed Father Tom Ranzino to two additional offices: while remaining pastor of St. Jean Vianney Parish and director of our diocesan Office of Worship, Father Tom is now also the diocesan “vicar general” as well as the “moderator of the curia.” (It’s important to note that for the past 30 years or so the same priest has always held both jobs simultaneously, but they’re not the same. In some dioceses – like ours before 1983 – they can be held by different persons.)

The Church’s Code of Canon Law (in canon 479, §1) gives the priest who holds the office of “vicar general” the same executive power over the whole diocese that the diocesan bishop has. Thus, he can do anything administratively except those things which the bishop personally has reserved to himself or which require either a special mandate from the bishop. Like the bishop, he serves as “the local Ordinary,” that is, the one with broad executive authority over the whole diocese. One very real aspect to the job, also, is to be the principal advisor and consultant to the bishop (can. 480), so that they’ll always act “with one will and mind,” that is, as a leadership team.

Father Tom is also now the “moderator of the curia.” Basically this means being the chief operating officer of the Catholic Life Center and its various departments and officers. There is an administrative structure to diocesan operations (who reports to whom, that sort of thing) and Father Tom now basically serves as supervisor of all of this, bringing items for the bishop’s information and decision to him as needed, of course. This role also is governed by the Church’s internal laws, known as canon law (can. 473, §2).

In the end, the ministry of governance in the Church is a practical thing, giving good order and structure to the operations of our community of faith in this world. Both the personalities and the jobs of those who minister in this way make it effective!

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