FROM A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT THE Congregation for the Clergy is expected to discuss the
establishment of norms for national pastoral councils at its plenary congregation, or meeting, which is believed to be scheduled for next March, according to a reliable source within the Clergy Congregation, in Rome.
The source said that all bishops' conference has been sent documentation on pastoral councils and had been asked to submit their suggestions for study by the plenary meeting of the Clergy Congregation, which will include all its members and officials.
Not all of the bishops have sent in their suggestions yet, the source said.
The congregation, he added, has not yet published norms for national pastoral councils and the matter is still being studied.
Earlier, the Dutch bishops' secretariat announced that the first meeting of the newlyrestructured Dutch National Pastoral Council had been postponed because of Vatican objections.
The secretariat said that the Curia "finds that the time is not yet ripe for institution of a pastoral council on a national level."
The Clergy Congregation source said that its plenary meeting would undoubtedly have to face three important issues on how national pastoral councils were to be structured:
I. "How can a national council be made truly representative of the various dioceses or provinces of the Church in a country, great or small?
2. "It is known that some national conferences of bishops lean toward giving a national council a deliberate vote, but the documents of Vatican Council II and the postconciliar documents, such as Ecclesiae Sanetae, have limited themselves to consultation and normative votes rather than deliberative. Obviously this matter will call for long discussion in March, It is believed that this is one of the difficulties the Dutch hierarchy may be wrestling with.
3. "It is seriously questioned not only in Rome but in many of the larger nations, including the United States and Canada, whether an effective national council can be.organised until well organised diocesan pastoral councils have first provided a solid pyramid which will be crowned by a national council."
The Clergy Congregation source said that it is widely felt that an educational programme of dialogue and forum is necessary even in the smallest countries ... before an attempt is made to draw up an agenda for a national council which would be equally profitable to the hierarchy and the laity."
Earlier, another official of the Clergy Congregation had said that pastoral councils "by nature" are limited in scope to individual dioceses and therefore the concept of a national pastoral council "does not fit into the constitutional structure of the Church."
The official said that a document on pastoral councils is being prepared by the congregation, headed by American Cardinal John Wright, but it would have to be sent to Pope Paul for approval before it was published.
The Vatican views pastoral councils composed of priests and laymen strictly as a means of "personal contact" between the people of God and the bishops of a single diocese, the official said.
He said this does not exclude setting up an office or a secretariat or the like for the exchange of ideas or information on a level broader than a diocese, but that such an office would not be part of the juridical structure.
The official, who asked not to be identified, said that the idea of a national pastoral council "does not fit" into present Church structure and "lacks a term of reference" as to whom or what it would address itself.
He said that the personal element of exchange, which he called intrinsic to the concept of a pastoral council, would be -missing on a national level.
THE Catholic Stage Guild is holding what promises to be one of the largest social gatherings of Catholics to be held in London, a "Celebrity Dance" to be held at the Lyceum Ballroom, Strand, London, on September 24.
Up to 2,000 people are expected to attend.