Conclusion

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When the ministry of a pastor has become harmful or ineffective, the faithful suffer, but so too does the pastor, whose efforts are frustrated by the cause of his negative ministry.  Even if the pastor it not to blame for his detrimental ministry, it is not good for a pastor to continue to be constrained in a position of failing leadership.  It has been observed that the procedure for removal looks to the good of souls, but the good of the pastor is also at stake.  It is possible that the removal of a pastor may even look to his good if his ministry is truly inadequate or harmful.  A pastor may be reticent to accept this possibility, but the good of the pastor must also enter into the mind of the diocesan bishop when making a decision for removal.  It should always be hoped that the procedure for removal may bring a positive result even from a disheartening and unfortunate situation.

The procedure for removal must be well instructed; the collection of proofs must clearly demonstrate the cause for removal; and the harmful or ineffective ministry of the pastor must be proven.  If a case is poorly instructed, a pastor may feel, with some justification, that his rights have been violated.  If a cause is insufficiently proven, a pastor may have reason to believe that he is being railroaded by his bishop who lacks genuine concern for him as a priest-son.  Conversely, as difficult as it is to face, a pastor may be more readily inclined to accept the judgment of his bishop if he sees the clear evidence of his inadequate ministry, and knows that the procedure has been executed in an evenhanded and just way.  If the pastorís ministry has been proven to be gravely deficient, the best resolution occurs if the pastor steps down from his office for the good of his parish, and even for his own personal good.

At the beginning of this thesis, an analogy was drawn between the ministry of the pastor to his parish and the marital bond.  The removal of a pastor from his parish can have all the painful characteristics of a separation and a divorce.  However, many individuals move past the pain of a broken marriage to seek an annulment.  The examination of a marriage in a nullity case can be distressing and hard to endure, but this process can also be helpful and even enlightening to the parties as they cope with a failed marriage and learn from their past mistakes.  While the procedure for the removal of a pastor is also difficult, it may also yield a positive result if it is conducted well and with pastoral sensitivity to the parishioners and the pastor involved.  The diocesan bishop is to care for his people and is to paternally attend to his presbyterate, even in this procedure for removal.  The firm but gentle hand of the shepherd in dealing with these difficult situations will lead to the greatest hope of an ultimately positive outcome.

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