Pastoral Care

Basic Expectations for the Pastoral Care
of Catholic Personnel 

Part 1 

The Context 

1.   From the time of the Apostles those who are elected by the Father to be his people have responded to that invitation by answering the call of Jesus Christ to be his disciples. In that divine plan it is the total person who makes that response in, with, and through the life that the community draws from the presence of Jesus in each one and in the community we call the Church. An essential and enduring element of God’s call is the constant care that the Father offers his people in their endeavours to draw ever closer to him through lives which are firmly focussed on that pilgrimage of ever deepening faith, enlivened by hope, and motivated by love. This care is expressed in a particular way by those called by God to devote themselves to the service of his people. 

2.   This particular call to service is expressed in different ways and with different effects. These differences are not exclusive but are cumulative so that the many needs can be comprehensively brought together to build up the community of faith. St Paul expressed this teaching often in his letters and in Chapter 12 of his letter to the Romans he encourages us to remember constantly that all are called to a holiness of life through sharing in the salvation Jesus won for us. Especially since the Second Vatican Council the pastoral energy of the Church has been renewed by an increased awareness of what our Baptismal call means for each and for the community. Through our Baptism each one is invited to be witnesses to the presence of Jesus by our holiness of life and by our living example. We are all called to imitate and reflect the prayers, thoughts, words and actions of Jesus in our own time and situation. This call and our response pervades all that we are and seek to become. 

3.   Some are called to a ministry to the community in specific ways. All ministry is a service of love and reflects, in all its many dimensions, the pastoral care of the Father for his people. Each ministry is accompanied by gifts and talents (some may call these charisms) given by God for the service of the community. Traditionally the ministry of sanctification is expressed through the Apostles and their successors and those who share in their work of administering the Sacraments. This is found in those who receive a consecration through ordination received in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. We commonly call them today bishops, priests and deacons. Through that ordination they are set apart to perpetually conform themselves into being the presence of Jesus in the midst of the Church, to act with his intentions, to speak his words, to draw all into the very presence of God and to bring the fruits of salvation that Jesus won for us through his suffering, death and resurrection into the community. Through that ordination the principal means of sanctification – the Sacraments – are provided by God to his people. This service involves an unequivocal and total commitment of the whole person in the personal love of Jesus. It is at the same time a love expressed in unity and conformity with the person of Jesus Christ. The personal proclamation of St. Paul contained in the Letter to the Philippians “For me life is Christ, and death is gain.” (Ch 1: 21 ff) is one that each ordained person makes his own and surely reflects the final statement by John the Baptist referring to Jesus “He must increase; I must decrease” (Jn 3:30 ). The late Holy Father John Paul the Great referred to this service as a sign of contradiction. 

4.   Complementary ministry to that offered by those ordained is also provided by those not in Holy Orders. This is an essential and vital expression of the Father’s pastoral care for his people. In the Acts of the Apostles – recording the first years of the growth of the Church, there are many examples of those who shared in the work of the Apostles – not only in bearing witness to Jesus and the events of salvation by their lives and attitudes – but also in positive acts of community building and loving support for others. What we might call today the corporal works of mercy – care of the orphan, the sick and the marginalised, rejoicing in moments of success, grieving with those who mourn, steadying the faltering spirits of those whose lives were impacted by changed circumstances and hardship, befriending the stranger and sheltering the weak, upholding and enhancing family life moments, teaching, admonishing, reassuring, and many others – are all to be found there. St. Paul reflects profoundly on the influences of the society on the religious, spiritual and family life of members of the various Christian communities and in that context sees the excitement of the growth of the community to be a living sign of the ongoing work of Jesus. Communities flourish and generously share their insights, experiences, excitement, gifts, and hopes. Down through the centuries we know that this work continued within the communities and even in our own day there is a re-emergence of a commitment in faith to the life of the community in very overt ways. 

5.   In our Defence Community all expressions of the gift of ministry must be acknowledged, encouraged and utilised so that the People of God may grow in grace and favour. The Baptismal call must be honoured and identified and each one given every encouragement to respond. In this way the natural gifts of the community can be richly enhanced by grace, the community can grow in confidence and enthusiasm, holiness of life may be a genuine experience, and awareness of the presence of Jesus may inspire, guide and strengthen each one in fulfilling their special call to be true ministers of peace and stability for our nation. (II Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, n.79) 


Part 2 

The Specific Expectations 

6.   The particular circumstances of the environment in which the Catholic Diocese of the Australian Defence Force exercises its mission to this special community requires a more explicit statement of the ways in which the various forms of ministry are exercised for the benefit of the People of God. These statements serve two purposes: they help to define the Bishop’s expectation and clarify the complementary contributions of each ministry; and, they give guidance concerning what may reasonably be expected from the ministers. In this way this document may be considered to be the basic standard and defines the expected criteria for measuring authenticity and progress.

Essential Elements necessary for Catholic personnel. 

7.   The sources defining the necessary elements in the life of Catholic personnel have their origin from two complementary authorities. The first is the teaching of the Catholic Church as expressed in the Church’s Magisterium and contained in Church documents – primarily the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The second is the guarantee contained in Clause 116 of the Australian Constitution which says: “The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.” and this affirms the right for free exercise of religion for all citizens. Members of the Australian Defence Force do not lose these basic rights because of their service. Rather the Catholic Church provides clergy to those Catholic personnel primarily to support them so that they can properly serve. 

8.   As is the tradition and practice of the Catholic Church universally, the pastoral care of Catholic personnel is fully entrusted to the bishop as the successor of the Apostles. He has collaborators in exercising that office. These share in his office to the degree to which they share in the same Sacrament of Holy Orders and to which they have been given delegation. Priest-chaplains (or priest-moderators in the absence of Service chaplains) require endorsement, permission/faculties from the Catholic Bishop of the ADF to serve Catholic personnel and are to ensure the development and implementation of, and support for, a plan that has identified basic elements necessary to provide care for Catholic personnel and the genuine opportunity to exercise their rights and fulfil their obligations. 

9.   The basic essential elements are: 

       a.  Sunday/Holy Day/daily Mass and Reconciliation;

       b.  Religious Education and Sacramental preparation, with an emphasis on youth character formation, individual moral development, and military family cohesion and readiness;   

       c.  Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA); and   

       d.  Young Adult Ministry focussed on spiritual readiness for duty.   


Primary place of the Blessed Sacrament in the life of Catholics. 

10.   Central to the life of the Catholic Church is the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. We are a Eucharistic community. The Blessed Sacrament is an embodiment of Jesus’ promise, as recorded in the last sentence of Matthew’s Gospel, to be with us always ‘even to the end of time’ (Mt 28:20). It is central to our life and growth in many ways. It is central to our Catholic spirituality and it is both the source of our identity and the summit of our pilgrimage. It is the focus of daily life for all in the community. Catholics have a right to access of the Blessed Sacrament for their devotion and spiritual growth. 

11.   Under normal circumstances, wherever possible, where there is a priest-chaplain posted the Blessed Sacrament is to be reserved according to the proper norms that ensure reverence, accessibility and security (normally in a Tabernacle in a small devotional chapel). It is to the priest-chaplain (or priest-moderator) that responsibility for the reservation, care and custody of the Blessed Sacrament is entrusted. In those situations where a deacon-chaplain is posted the designated priest-moderator may delegate the responsibility to the deacon but with appropriate reservations. This responsibility for the care of the Blessed Sacrament must never be entrusted to any other person or non-Catholic chaplain under any condition. The priest-chaplain is responsible and accountable for those Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who are trained and appointed to assist him in this responsibility.

The Priest-Chaplain 

12.   Priest-chaplains without exception are expected to celebrate daily Mass and to pray the Prayer of the Church (the Divine Office). Catholics in the services should have access to daily Mass scheduled at times convenient for them. This sacred duty of the Priest-chaplain must take precedence over all other responsibilities unless mission essential requirements warrant otherwise. A priest-chaplain will celebrate Mass privately on days off, holidays, or times when a scheduled Mass is not feasible. Personal spiritual sustenance is sufficient justification for this expectation because of the special challenges of the priest-chaplain living a military life-style. It is also a justification that, through the reception of Holy Orders, the priest-chaplain has embraced a responsibility to be completely at the service of the Church universal in prayer, sacrifice and adoration and to vicariously and constantly stand before God on behalf of His People. 

13.   Priest-chaplains are also the special ministers of reconciliation and healing. They will provide at least a weekly scheduled celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and be vigilant in offering the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Given the particular nature of military service they will ensure they are always available to respond to calls for the Sacraments ‘in danger of death’. 

14.   While others may also be regularly and intimately involved, the need for catechesis and evangelisation – particularly in the fields of moral formation and spiritual readiness – is a compelling right for Catholics in the military environment and is best provided by the Priest-chaplain. This right to formation according to the teachings of the Catholic Church is embraced by Clause 116 of the Australian Constitution. This, in turn, enables the Catholic member of the Australian Defence Force, to be more confident and capable to respond to their onerous duties with greater efficiency and commitment. 

15.   The care of Catholic personnel will always be the primary responsibility and compelling duty of the Priest-chaplain. However, wherever necessary, the Priest-chaplain will also energetically facilitate the pastoral care of non-Catholic personnel in the absence of non-Catholic chaplains. In a spirit of true ecumenism the Priest-chaplain will be most careful to avoid any indication of proselytising.

The Deacon-Chaplain 

16.   Along with the Bishop and Priests the Deacons share in the Sacrament of Holy Order – that of the Order of Deacon. Specifically they are ordained to the ministries of the Word, of the Altar and of charity. They work in close cooperation with and under the direction of the Priest-chaplain (or Priest-moderator designated) so that the pastoral care of God’s people may have genuine impact and bear fruit. Deacon-chaplains are to avail themselves and draw strength from the daily celebration of the Eucharist and from fulfilling their accepted duty to daily recitation of the Prayer of the Church (the Divine Office). Some Deacon-chaplains have previously embraced the Sacrament of Marriage and some have freely chosen the celibate state. In either case, according to their chosen life commitment, they are to be assiduous in displaying a compelling example of the authentic Christian life within the community. The particular ministry and graces that flow as a consequence of their ordination are great gifts to the community. The contribution of those gifts can be demanding – particularly in the military environment – and they must draw strength from a constant habit of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Like Priest-chaplains, the Deacon-chaplain also requires endorsement and permission/faculties from the Catholic Bishop of the ADF. 

17.   Because of their special ministry of the Word the Deacon-chaplain will be conscientious in daily reflection and study of the Sacred Scriptures. The Deacon-chaplain will diligently prepare himself for the Proclamation of the Gospel so that the Word of God is received with clarity and devotion. When appropriate – and especially on those occasions when a priest is not available – the Deacon-chaplain will provide and lead a service of Liturgy of the Word drawing upon the proper liturgical books and following the proper norms and instructions. Theirs is the special ministry of drawing the faithful into an ever deepening encounter with Jesus Christ through instruction, catechesis and evangelisation. This special ministry is properly attuned to assisting Catholic personnel in developing their faith, in renewing their commitment, in increasing their understanding of the teachings of the Catholic faith, in evaluating the principles that underpin a good moral life and the development of sound character. In collaboration with the Priest-chaplain they will develop and deliver specific programmes for Sacramental preparation. 

18.   The ministry of the Deacon-chaplain is inseparably joined to the ministry of the Altar. With exemplary reverence and obvious personal devotion the Deacon-chaplain will assist the Priest at the Altar during the Eucharist, will most carefully distribute Holy Communion to the faithful, and conscientiously ensure the proper handling and preservation of the Consecrated Host and the Precious Blood. The Deacon-chaplain will encourage and assist the faithful in proper and fruitful participation in the liturgy – especially the celebration of Eucharist. The Deacon-chaplain is the first collaborator with the Priest in ensuring the proper norms with regard to the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament are followed. 

19.   The Deacon-chaplain is also ordained specifically to the ministry of charity. He will be pro-active in seeking out those members of the community who are in need of pastoral care and assistance. Drawing upon the strength gained through prayer, study of Sacred Scripture, close identity with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, the insights of his formation and ongoing study, and on his own experience, the Deacon-chaplain is well able to offer advice and counselling on those matters of concern to living a good Catholic life. He must be familiar with all the assets available from both the Church and secular communities that can enhance and encourage Catholic personnel in their vocation. He will have particular care of the sick and marginalised and be quick to bring those matters to the notice of the Priest that have a requirement for reconciliation and healing. 

20.   Because of their competence the Deacon-chaplains should be the prime collaborators with the Priests in the identification, training and supervision of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and for those who might be called upon to exercise the liturgical ministry of Lector (Reader). 

Deacon-chaplains, like the Priest-chaplains, are ordained primarily to provide pastoral care for Catholic personnel. And similarly, when circumstances demand it, they will actively facilitate pastoral care for non-Catholics in the absence of a non-Catholic chaplain. They will also be most careful to avoid any suggestion of proselytising. 
The Pastoral Associate Chaplain 

21.   The Baptismal call to holiness of life and witnessing to the salvation Christ won for us is most powerfully expressed in those members of the community who offer themselves for preparation, training and service to exercise of formal ministry on behalf of the Church community. They are commonly called Pastoral Associates. As they are not ordained (they have not received the Sacrament of Holy Orders) they are not able to administer the Sacraments. The one exception is that, like all the faithful, in case of genuine emergency they can Baptise using the simple form. In every other way, through their own holiness of life, example of Christian living, training, preparation and experience, they are genuine collaborators in the ministry activity of the Church. There are many places in the Church in Australia that engage Pastoral Associates to assist the Priest in providing pastoral care to the community and the Catholic Diocese of the Australian Defence Force also has introduced this form of ministry with the consent of the military authorities. 

22.   These men and women are engaged in a covenant agreement with the Bishop to provide authentic Catholic pastoral care to Catholic personnel and are commissioned as chaplains in the Australian Defence Force. This formal agreement enables the Catholic Bishop of the ADF to provide endorsement, to issue the necessary authority required by Canon Law, and to grant the necessary permissions that specifies their ministry. It is emphasised that, like the Deacons, the Pastoral Associates work in close collaboration with, and are under the direction of, a Priest-chaplain (or Priest-moderator) in their ministry. It is important to note that the Priest-chaplain (or Priest-moderator) may not be located in the immediate geographical area and that the necessary moderation and collaboration may depend upon modern means of communication. 

23.   Given that there are very few Priest-chaplains and Deacon-chaplains, the Pastoral Associates will often find their service is being given in areas where there is no ready immediate access to a priest. Therefore, the Catholic Bishop of the ADF has issued a set of ‘generic’ faculties that can be modified according to the circumstances so that the needs of the Catholic can be best met. These can be summarised under the general headings of liturgy, catechesis and pastoral care. 

24.   In their ministry of liturgy Pastoral Associates are approved to lead and preside at a Liturgy of the Word on those occasions when no Catholic priest or deacon is available – even on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation in those circumstances when it is not possible for Catholic personnel to attend Mass in another location. They will be required to use the authorised liturgical books on these occasions. During that Liturgy of the Word the Pastoral Associate may offer a prepared reflection on the Sacred Scriptures chosen – but not deliver a Homily. In the absence of a Catholic priest or deacon the Pastoral Associate can officiate at a Funeral Liturgy Outside Mass as set down in the Ritual for the Order of Christian Funerals. Provided they have met all the necessary requirements, and under the moderation of the appointed priest, they may exercise the ministry of Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion including bringing Holy Communion to the sick even in the form of Viaticum (when someone is dying). 

25.   In the ministry of catechesis the Pastoral Associate will assist in the preparation for the reception of the Sacraments. In this way Catholic personnel will be better able to prepare for celebrating Baptism, Reconciliation, Holy Communion, Confirmation and Marriage. With regard to preparation for Marriage the Pastoral Associate will, in addition to the Sacramental preparation, assist in the administration that is concerned with the gathering of documents, completing the necessary forms and preparing the liturgy. In this process they will also be able to provide a liaison with the celebrant of the Sacraments and ensure that, as fully as possible, the best preparation and arrangements can be made. Their expertise in understanding Catholic teaching will contribute greatly to the basic element of youth formation, personal moral development and character formation entrusted primarily (but not exclusively) to the Priest-chaplain. 

26.   In the ministry of pastoral care, drawing upon their own holiness of life, their prayerful reflection, their training and their experience the Pastoral Associates will provide a level of pastoral care that is focussed on assisting Catholic personnel in developing a personal environment that enables them to confidently and competently contribute to living out their vocation. This is directed towards developing good standards of spiritual maturity, family cohesion, preparedness and readiness. In turn this enhances the ADF’s standards necessary to fulfil its mission. Pastoral Associates will be firmly grounded in Catholic Church spirituality, teaching and practice and so be a great source of encouragement and confidence for the community. 

27.   From time to time the Bishop, in consultation with the Pastoral Associate, and hearing the advice of others concerned, may expand or reduce (or otherwise modify) the permissions and authorisations delegated to the Pastoral Associates. Depending upon the circumstances the Bishop is resolved that the Pastoral Associate Chaplains will be given as much support and encouragement as is possible to ensure that this important dimension of ministry is fully available to the People of God in the Catholic Diocese of the Australian Defence Force. 

Ecumenical and Inter-Faith Dimension 

28.   One of the unique dimensions of the daily life of Catholic personnel is their close interaction with other defence force personnel of differing Christian denominations and faith traditions. This is true in a special way for the Catholic Chaplains who are imbedded with Chaplains of other denominations and faith communities on a daily basis. Historically Catholic Chaplains have embraced a need to collaborate in supporting the religious and pastoral needs of all members of the Armed Services. Decades before the current initiatives in the area of ecumenism and inter-faith became so prominent, Catholic Chaplains had become well known for their respectful cooperation and interaction in these areas. The Catholic Diocese of the ADF treasures this patrimony which was forged on the field of battle and is committed to every opportunity for continuing involvement in mutual support based upon respect for the dignity of personnel and honouring their rights to exercise their religious freedom. 

29.   It is our continuing desire to work with commanders and chaplains of all faiths and religious traditions to provide complete spiritual care for the men and women in uniform and their families. In that spirit, the Catholic Church recognises that the first and foremost focus of the Catholic Chaplains is to meet the needs of Catholic personnel, and then to help facilitate the spiritual care of those belonging to other traditions and faith communities. All Catholic Chaplains must be concerned about the spiritual and moral needs of all in the military community regardless of their religious preferences. 

30.   The Second Vatican Council, in its Decree on Ecumenism, provides the basic principles which guide the Catholic Church’s desire for and involvement in the ecumenical movement. That directive identifies that the valid distinction between prayer and worship provides a framework in which the Church can come together with other Christian denominations. In applying that teaching to the environment of the ADF it becomes obvious that there are times when we can – indeed should – participate and times when it is not appropriate for significant involvement. Those services of prayer which are genuinely Ecumenical and/or Inter-Faith are those which pray for and foster unity and understanding among those commonly sharing in the life of the ADF. They are times when each denomination or faith-group contributes something of their own tradition and desire – without offence and without compromise. When a Catholic Chaplain participates in such a Service of Prayer he or she should bring something of our Catholic tradition to the celebration (Catholic prayers, excerpts from Conciliar or Papal documents, the early Church Fathers, etc). Catholics must be very careful not offend the religious beliefs or traditions of other religious communities, nor compromise Catholic tradition, by participating in a non-Catholic Service of Worship even if it is advertised as ‘ecumenical’. 
General Matters 

31.   Catholic Bishops and Major Religious Superiors who provide Catholic Chaplains expect that the responsibility of the Catholic Chaplain for the Sacramental, pastoral and spiritual welfare of our Catholic people will be acknowledged, protected, and fostered by authorities within the ADF. This is the fundamental basis for their making the Chaplains available. 

32.   Those Catholic Chaplains who are in Holy Orders – priests and deacons – exercise their ministry as an expression of their consecration and in response to their vocation from God and the community of His People. This was clearly set out in the Diocesan document “A Tradition of Faith – Faithful to Tradition” issued in November 2004. Their reception of the Sacrament of Holy Orders fundamentally changes their whole approach to life and reason for being. It is deeply insulting and offensive to them personally and to the Apostolic Tradition of the Catholic Church to speak of their service as a ‘military career’. As enunciated in that document, military status is granted to them so that they can better fulfil their responsibilities but to use this status to limit their primary responsibilities is an affront to their dignity and a serious aberration. The Catholic Diocese of the ADF recognises and accepts that other Christian Denominations and Faith Communities do not have the same theological approach and practical understanding of those who provide ministry. It would be a serious affront by the Catholic Church to seek to impose its standards and tenets on non-Catholic personnel and we do not seek so to do. It is not an unreasonable expectation, however, that those professing the Catholic faith be allowed to exercise their free choice as Australian citizens. 

33.  This document should be read in conjunction with other documents published by the Catholic Diocese of the ADF and especially the 2004 statement “Tradition of Faith, Faithful to Tradition” and the 2006 Strategy Paper “Putting People First”. 

34.   The Catholic Diocese retains its sharp focus on its vision to be a People of God, affirmed in Faith, energised by Hope, and motivated by Love that is leading us to be agents for peace, freedom and security. We remain committed to our mission to carry forward the work of Christ in the Australian Defence Force through the collaborative efforts of the Bishop, the Chaplains, and the Lay Faithful. 

To the Greater Glory of God and in the Name of Jesus the Lord,