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* Faculty of Catholic Theology, Tilburg University, Netherlands 1 For France and the Netherlands, see Ad van der Helm, Un Clergé Parallèle? Étude socio-juridique de l’activité des laïcs dans l’église catholique en France et Pays-Bas (Strasbourg: Cerdic, 1993) 115–154, 155–188. For Germany and Switzerland, see Adrian Loretan, Laien im pastoralen Dienst: Ein Amt in der kirchlichen Gesetzgebung: Pastoralassistent /-assistentin Pastoralreferent/-referentin (Praktische Theologie im Dialog Bd. 1) (Freiburg, Switzerland: Universitätsverlag, 1994) 19–50, 135–150. Loretan describes how lay involvement in pastoral work in Germany originated at the beginning of the twentieth century in an urban context (where priests needed help and unmarried women started to assist them) and in an academic context (as a professional follow-up in the career of theologically educated lay persons, who were admitted to study theology, which was allowed in Münster after the First World War and also elsewhere after the Second World War). In both cases Vatican II stimulated lay commitment (cf. AA 24 on entrusting ‘to the laity certain functions which are more closely connected with pastoral duties , such as the teaching of Christian doctrine, certain liturgical actions, and the care of souls’ and GS 62, which argues that some of the laity should be able to dedicate themselves professionally to the sacred sciences). 2 Ruud G.W. Huysmans, Het recht van de leek in de rooms-katholieke kerk van Nederland (Hilversum: Gooi & Sticht, 1986) 10–19; Peter Neuner, “Ekklesiologie: Die Lehre von der Kirche,” in Glaubenszugänge: Lehrbuch der Katholischen Dogmatik, ed. Wolfgang Beinert (Paderborn-Munich-Vienna-Zürich: Schöning, 1995) 533–535. 84 The Jurist 69 (2009) 84–115 THE LOCAL BISHOP AND LAY PASTORAL WORKERS A NEWLY CREATED FUNCTION IN THE CHURCH AND ITS IMPACT ON EPISCOPAL COLLEGIALITY Henk Witte* 1. A New Function in the Church The newly created function of lay pastoral workers emerged in ecclesiastical circles in the period briefly before and shortly after Vatican II. In Europe this occurred in German, Swiss, Dutch, and French dioceses.1 The emergence of this function should be seen as an expression and a consequence of the changed theological and canonical position of the laity in the Church. During the nineteenth and twentieth century the position of lay faithful slowly changed from being a subject of clerical authority with no voice in clerical matters to being a respected participant in the mission of the Church.2 IntheNetherlandstheintroductionofthefunctionoflaypastoralworkers was largely an initiative at the level of parishes or deaneries. It was made possible by an earlier reorganization of theological education (major seminaries were reorganized into theological faculties), which 3 Nederlandse Bisschoppenconferentie, “Meewerken in het pastoraat: Beleidsnota bij de ‘Instructie over enige vragen betreffende de medewerking van lekengelovigen aan het dienstwerk van de priesters,’” Kerkelijke documentatie 27 (1999) 339–373. the local bishop and lay pastoral workers 85 created new study opportunities for lay persons, including women. Some local bishops welcomed and supported the lay pastoral workers; others didnot.Questionsonhowtogaugethetheologicalstatusofthisnewfunction , how to determine its relationship with the community of believers and with ordained ministers (bishop, priests, deacons), and how to determine and describe its tasks were answered in different ways. Even within a diocese, a continuity of policy was not guaranteed.Anew bishop could easily change the hitherto open policy of his predecessor. Different policies on the function of the lay pastoral workers created tensions and disagreements between local bishops, which hampered and even immobilized cooperation in the episcopal conference for years at a time.Also, the Holy See became involved in the question. It intervened—sometimes more in perception than in fact—thereby affecting decision-making at the diocesan level and at the episcopal conference level as well. The appearance of the lay pastoral workers on the ecclesial scene became a test case for episcopal leadership and inter-episcopal cooperation and collegiality. This essay deals with two questions. The first concerns the contributions of local bishops in clarifying the theological status of the lay pastoral workers in the post-Vatican II period. How did they define the function? How did they determine its position and tasks in relation to the position and tasks of sacred ministers in the pastoral mission...