Parish Finances

What is the relationship between parishes, their diocese, and their bishop?

The current administrative and hierarchical structure of the Roman Catholic Church originated during the apostolic age following the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Multiple passages in the New Testament refer to the body of the Church, including its leadership and roles, including 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11-16. St. Clement of Rome, the fourth pope after (and including) Peter, later affirmed the authority and responsibilities of bishops, priests, and deacons in Church matters. About 1,600 years ago, ecclesiastical (Church) provinces were formed. These geographic jurisdictions were named provinces because they existed in the Roman provinces in which the early Christians lived.

An ecclesiastical province now consists of an archdiocese led by a metropolitan, better known as an archbishop. The ecclesiastical province of Michigan includes the Archdiocese of Detroit, led by Archbishop Allen Vigneron, whose role is to provide pastoral governance. According to the Second Vatican Council:

"A diocese is a section of the People of God entrusted to a bishop to be guided by him with the assistance of his clergy so that, loyal to its pastor and formed by him into one community in the Holy Spirit through the Gospel and the Eucharist, it constitutes one particular church in which the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and active."

An archbishop may be assisted by auxiliary bishops, of which there are four active in the Detroit Archdiocese. Bishops, in turn, are assisted by priests and deacons in ministering to the lay faithful. Parishes within a diocese are led by a priest known as the pastor. According to the Code of Canon Law that governs the Catholic Church: "He exercises the pastoral care of the community entrusted to him under the authority of the Diocesan Bishop, whose ministry of Christ he is called to share, so that for this community he may carry out the offices of teaching, sanctifying and ruling with the cooperation of other priests or deacons and with the assistance of lay members of the Christian faithful, in accordance with the law."

Church(canon) law regards parish goods as belonging to the parish. While parishes have a right in canon law to acquire, administer, and dispose of parish goods, since these goods also are goods for the benefit of the entire Church, when parishes want to make significant decisions concerning parish goods, including properties, the Archbishop must be consulted and approve what is proposed.