ASK FATHER: The authority of pastors, parish priests, over people | 2/6/2019 | View all posts by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf →
applecup (Posted by) Level 4


My family and I regularly travel to a different parish, in a different diocese, to attend Mass at an FSSP Mass centre. The FSSP Mass centre is served by priests from a nearby personal parish, where the senior FSSP priest is parish priest. We are regulars there, I sing in the choir and so on.

Parish - Liturgy

My local parish is orthodox but un-traditional in its liturgy.

If parish priests truly have authority over the baptised Catholics in their territorial parish, are we erring by going to Mass elsewhere without seeking the local parish priest’s permission? If he really is our spiritual father, are we wrong to pass up on his paternal care and go elsewhere?

Good - Family - Mass - Wherever - Sacrifice

I consider it a positive good for me and my family to attend the traditional Mass wherever possible and it would be a big sacrifice for us to go to the typical local Novus Ordo instead, but this question of the parish priest’s authority over us bothers me.

It’s been centuries really since the Church spoke of the role of a parish priest as having “authority” over his parishioners. The preferred terminology speaks of the pastor’s “care of souls” rather than his authority over them. Certainly, within that umbrella of “cura animarum” there is something to be said of the pastor’s authority over those he cares for. He is, or should be, truly a “pastor” – a shepherd of sorts. Canons 528 and 529 speak expansively (and beautifully) of the role of the pastor – these canons should be part of...
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