The New Establishment of the Emmanuel Community Clerical Association

Today, August 30, 2017, officially marks the establishment by the Holy See of a clerical association for priests and deacons of the Emmanuel Community. The Community receives with joy this gift from the Church which clarifies the status of Emmanuel’s priests within the Church and prepares the community to better

 face today’s missionary challenges .

For some years, on the advice of Cardinal André XXIII, Archbishop of Paris, ecclesiastical assistant of the Community, and under the direction of the Congregation for the Clergy, the community has been drafting its statutes for a clerical association, initially linked to the association of the faithful (the Emmanuel Community is an international public association of the faithful (composed of laity and priests), under the vigilance of the Dicastery for the laity, the Family and Life).

The Congregation for the Clergy established on August 15, 2017 the Clerical Association of the Emmanuel Community, bringing together the priests and deacons of the Community. This decision of the Holy See clarifies the canonical identity of the clerics who are members of Emmanuel. It encourages their call to serve the local Churches while promoting their availability for the universal mission of the Church. It strengthens the communion of priests and deacons with their lay brothers and sisters for the new evangelization, according to the charisms of the Emmanuel Community.

This new stage is in the continuity of the community’s history. Thus, the ordinary way of incardination of the clerics of Emmanuel remains in the dioceses. Although these new statutes make incardination possible in this new clerical association, the Community will opt for this new mode of incardination only exceptionally.

Why this clerical association?

The fundamental objective of these Statutes is to clearly define, the founding grace of the Emmanuel Community in order to bear humble but firm witness to a “new style of collaboration between priests and laity, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (according to the expression of St. John Paul II, in Christi Fideles Laici, 2 in appendix), based on the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council.

Concretely the three main stakes (challenges) are as follows:

1. To guarantee the consolidation of the ministry of the priests of the Emmanuel Community in fraternal communion with the lay faithful (according to the ecclesiology of communion highlighted by the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium 10, in annex).

2. To promote (favor) the availability for the mission of the priests of the Community, in conformity with their commitment likely to lead them to serve outside their diocese of incardination (according to the intuition of the Second Vatican Council, Presbyterorum Ordinis 10, in annex).

3. To facilitate missionary collaboration with the bishops, through a canonical structure honoring their authority as well as the specific charism of Emmanuel (cf. Lumen Gentium 4, chapter on the mystery of the Church, in appendix).

A clerical association and an association of the faithful closely linked

This new clerical association is inseparably linked canonically to the Association of the faithful, the Emmanuel Community. Communion between the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood is thus at the heart of this system. The belonging of clerics to the Emmanuel Community is constitutive of its charism. The priests and deacons of the Emmanuel Community comprise, with the other members of the Community, a single missionary body for the service of the Church. Thus, for a cleric to be a member of this clerical association, he must be a member of the association of the faithful. The canonical link between these two associations strengthens the clerics’ membership of the Community.

To better understand this link between the two associations, please note:
– The establishment of a College of Communion bringing together the Council of the Association of the Faithful and the Council of the Clerical Association, under the chairmanship of the Moderator General.
– The presence of clerics of the Clerical Association, as ex officio members of the Council of the Association of the faithful (the person in charge of the ordained ministers and the person in charge of the formation of clerics)
– Conversely, the presence of lay members of the Association of the faithful, as ex officio members of the Council of the Clerical Association (including the general moderator of the association of the faithful).
– The appointment of the head of the Clerical Association by the Congregation for the Clergy, on the proposal of the General Moderator of the Association of the faithful.
– The formal obligation to take decisions concerning the unity of the two associations, jointly by the General Moderator of the Community and the Head of the ordained ministers.
– The legal obligation for the Head of the ordained ministers seeks the opinion of the Moderator General of the Community, for important decisions concerning the mission and ministry of the Emmanuel clerics.

Does the Emmanuel Community renounce the incardination of dioceses?

Absolutely not. On the contrary. It is true that by these new statutes, the Congregation for the Clergy confers on the head of the Clerical Association the faculty to incardinate within it, for the needs of the mission. But the usual practice will remain the incardination of clerics in dioceses (Cf. Statutes 12 -2a). This corresponds to the secular nature of the Emmanuel Community and its call to serve the local Churches. Whatever their mode of incardination, the clerics of Emmanuel belong fully to this clerical association and fully to the association of the faithful.

In what case will the incardination of a cleric in the Clerical Association be considered?

It may be considered in the following situations:
– When incardination in a diocese proves impossible. For example, when the Community is faced with an explicit refusal to be welcomed according to its own charism.
– In order to avoid the isolation of a cleric at the time of his choice of incardination, in a country where the Community would be significantly absent or still too fragile in its foundation to support this same cleric.
– When one wishes that a cleric could dedicate himself totally and durably to a work proper to the Community, for example to formation, or to a mission which would require an “inculturation” over a long period.

A wink from God: The statutes of the Clerical Association were established on the solemnity of the Assumption. It is also the anniversary of the birth of Pierre Goursat, founder of the Emmanuel Community. Pierre Goursat, founder of the Emmanuel Community, had the desire to give priests to the Church who, supported by a community life with all states of life, would live their priesthood at the service of the particular Churches and of the universal mission of the Church: “It is important, he said, that priests in the exercise of their apostolate, in the dioceses where they are, are no longer alone […] They can therefore live very well in community with the lay brothers of the Fraternity of Jesus. They are supported. »

Emmanuel Community Clerical Association Statuts Press release


In annexes, extracts from texts of the Magisterium of the Church

These extracts, especially those of the Second Vatican Council, were the keystone of the reflection that led to the creation of this clerical association of the Emmanuel Community.

Christi Fideles Laici, 2 (Encyclical of John Paul II)

In looking over the years following the Council the Synod Fathers have been able to verify how the Holy Spirit continues to renew the youth of the Church and how he has inspired new aspirations towards holiness and the participation of so many lay faithful. This is witnessed, among other ways, in the new manner of active collaboration among priests, religious and the lay faithful; the active participation in the Liturgy, in the proclamation of the Word of God and catechesis; the multiplicity of services and tasks entrusted to the lay faithful and fulfilled by them; the flourishing of groups, associations and spiritual movements as well as a lay commitment in the life of the Church; and in the fuller and meaningful participation of women in the development of society.

Extract from Lumen Gentium 10: The Common Priesthood

Though they differ from one another in essence and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated: each of them in its own special way is a participation in the one priesthood of Christ.(2*) The ministerial priest, by the sacred power he enjoys, teaches and rules the priestly people; acting in the person of Christ, he makes present the Eucharistic sacrifice, and offers it to God in the name of all the people. But the faithful, in virtue of their royal priesthood, join in the offering of the Eucharist.(3*) They likewise exercise that priesthood in receiving the sacraments, in prayer and thanksgiving, in the witness of a holy life, and by self-denial and active charity.

Extract from Presbyterorum Ordinis 10 (Second Vatican Council):

The Distribution of Priests, and Vocations to the Priesthood
10. The spiritual gift which priests receive at their ordination prepared them not for a sort of limited and narrow mission but for the widest possible and universal mission of salvation “even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), for every priestly ministry shares in the universality of the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles. The priesthood of Christ, in which all priests really share, is necessarily intended for all peoples and all times, and it knows no limits of blood, nationality or time, since it is already mysteriously prefigured in the person of Melchisedech.(59) Let priests remember, therefore, that the care of all churches must be their intimate concern. Hence, priests of such dioceses as are rich in vocations should show themselves willing and ready, with the permission of their own ordinaries (bishops), to volunteer for work in other regions, missions or endeavors which are poor in numbers of clergy.
Present norms of incardination and excardination should be so revised that, while this ancient institution still remains intact, they will better correspond to today’s pastoral needs. Where a real apostolic spirit requires it, not only should a better distribution of priests be brought about but there should also be favored such particular pastoral works as are necessary in any region or nation anywhere on earth. To accomplish this purpose there should be set up international seminaries, special personal dioceses or prelatures (vicariates), and so forth, by means of which, according to their particular statutes and always saving the right of bishops, priests may be trained and incardinated for the good of the whole Church.
Priests should not be sent singly to a new field of labor, especially to one where they are not completely familiar with the language and customs; rather, after the example of the disciples of Christ,(60) they should be sent two or three together so that they may be mutually helpful to one another. Likewise, thoughtful care should be given to their spiritual life as well as their mental and bodily welfare; and, so far as is possible, the circumstances and conditions of labor should be adapted to individual needs and capabilities. At the same time it will be quite advantageous if those priests who go to work in a nation new to them not only know well the language of that place but also the psychological and social milieu peculiar to the people they go to serve, so that they may communicate with them easily, thus following the example of Paul the Apostle who could say of himself: “For when I was free of all I made myself the servant of all, that I might win over many. Among Jews I was a Jew that I might win over the Jews” (1 Cor 9:19-20).