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Assessing and Enabling Effective Lay Ministry in Scotland: Lay Ministry and its Place in the Changing Reality of Scottish Catholicism

FLETCHER, CATRIONA,ANNE (2016) Assessing and Enabling Effective Lay Ministry in Scotland: Lay Ministry and its Place in the Changing Reality of Scottish Catholicism. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The purpose of the dissertation is to assess where and how full-time, stable, lay ministry is developing in Scotland and to understand the ways in which lay ministry could grow and thrive with adequate resources and formation. The background to the dissertation is the changing circumstances of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. Numbers of priests and consecrated religious have sharply declined in recent decades and there has been an on-going decline in levels of practice. Parishes are increasingly relying on their greatest asset: the laity. Within this cohort some are called to positions of pastoral leadership as pastoral assistants, chaplains, or youth workers. My interest in this topic arises from my work in such contexts over the last thirty years. Despite the emerging reality I found a dearth of literature about lay ministry or new models of ministry in the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. Noel Timms’ extensive research project Diocesan Dispositions and Parish Voices (2001) does, usefully, include findings from two Scottish dioceses. In contrast the pastoral reality of lay ministry has been extensively researched in the United States and the thesis draws on the considerable study of Lay Ecclesial Ministry that has taken place there.
The new ecclesiological vision which emerged from Vatican II emphasised the common priesthood of all the baptised. This, together with a renewed historical consciousness, has led some theologians to call for a greater diversity in ministry within the Roman Catholic Church. Other theologians believe that change is only possible through deconstruction of the Tradition.
In this thesis I aim to pursue the following lines of enquiry: - What place does lay ministry have in the changing reality of Scottish Catholicism? What factors make for effective lay ministry? What elements would need to be put in place to enable the further development of lay ministry?
The research process involved semi-structured interviews with diocesan personnel in seven of the eight Scottish dioceses and two case-studies of parishes with lay ecclesial ministers. The research found that ministry flourishes where there is an attitude of openness, where positive relationships are built, where there is the motivation and intention to actively create a total ministering community and where there is the practice of pastoral planning. The research revealed that across all the dioceses there are considerable theological and psychological barriers to be overcome before lay ministry can flourish. Contradiction and ambiguity in ecclesiological understanding has further contributed to the hesitant acceptance of lay ministers in Scotland. At the present time there is also a lack of synchronisation between the hermeneutical lens operating in postmodern culture and the philosophical understanding underpinning magisterial statements made in a pre-modern or modern era. Dialogue, solidarity and community were noted to be of particular importance for mission and ministry in postmodernity. A ministerial model of collaboration and co-responsibility can provide the vitality needed to enable this mission.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Theology and Ministry
Keywords:lay ministry, collaboration, postmodenity, Scotland, change
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:22 Nov 2016 12:59

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