Could the Institution of the Parish Councils Be an Indication That Vatican II Teaches That the Church Should Be Like Democracy?

The concept of parish councils being established in dioceses was first declared in 1965 by the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II). Does this mean that the Church has a democratic setting? Not at all.

Let us first look at the main reasons for the institution of the parish councils. The parish councils are mainly responsible for looking into pastoral matters, deliberating on issues in the parish, reaching conclusions and making recommendations to the priest in charge on the affairs of the parish.

The parish council purely acts as an advisory body and the main aim of this is to help reduce the burden of the priest in charge. This does not mean that the church is democracy-like.

The term, “democracy” is suitable in cases or places of political nature. The Church is not a political entity by nature, it is a religious entity hence, the term “democracy” is inappropriate when used in describing the Church. The Church is well patterned after the structure of Heaven which takes the form of absolute monarchy with God on the throne as leader of all and we all as his subjects. In the same pattern, God appointed Peter to represent Him as leader of his Church for the continuity of the church on Earth; giving Him the authority as king and shepherd of the people (Jn 21:15-19, Mt 16:18-19) with the other apostles to assist him. This is the pattern that the Church has been operating with through apostolic succession in the Pope and the bishops in union with him. It has not changed and will never change.

So, the parish pastoral council in the parish merely acts as a consultative body. Even after deliberating and reaching conclusions on certain matters, the priest reserves the right to either accept or reject the proposals as he deems fit. He may as well delegate some authority to the council as he wills in order to ease some burden off his shoulders.

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