PASTORAL THEOLOGY
Catholic Encyclopedia 
AUTHOR: WALTER DRUM
Pastoral theology is the science of the care of souls.  This article 
will give the definition of pastoral  theology, its relations to other 
theological sciences,  its history, sources, and contents. 
 
A. 	Definition 

Pastoral theology is a branch of practical theology; it  is essentially 
a practical science. All branches of  theology, whether theoretical or 
practical, purpose in  one way or another to make priests "the 
ministers of  Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God" (I  
Cor., iv, 1). Pastoral theology presupposes other various  branches; 
accepts the apologetic, dogmatic, exegetic,  moral, juridical, 
ascetical, liturgical, and other  conclusions reached by the 
ecclesiastical student, and  scientifically applies these various 
conclusions to the  priestly ministry. 
 
B. 	Relation to Other Theological Sciences 
 
Dogmatic theology establishes the Church as the  depository of revealed 
truth and systematizes the deposit  of faith which Christ entrusted to 
His Church to hand  down to all generations; pastoral theology teaches 
the  priest his part in this work of Catholic and Christian  tradition 
of revealed truth. Moral theology explains the  laws of God and of the 
Church, the means of grace and  hindrances thereto; pastoral theology 
teaches the  practical bearing of these laws, means, and hindrances  
upon the daily life of the priest, alone and in touch  with his people. 
Canon law collects, correlates, and co- ordinates the laws of the 
Church; pastoral theology  applies those laws to the care of souls. In 
brief,  pastoral theology begins, where the other theological  sciences 
leave off; takes the results of them all and  makes these results 
effective for the salvation of souls  through the ministry of the 
priesthood established by  Christ. 
 
C. 	History 
 
The name pastoral theology is new; the science is as old  as the Church 
itself, as appears from the manifold  instructions given by Jesus to 
His Apostles for the care  of souls (Matt., x, 6 sqq.; Mark, vi, 8 
sqq.; Luke, ix, 3  sqq.; x, 4 sqq.; xxii, 35) and from the pastoral 
letters  of St. Paul and the very detailed instructions they give  to 
Timothy and to Titus in regard to the sacred ministry.  The writings of 
the Fathers, from the Apostolic age  onward, are replete with pastoral 
instruction. St.  Ignatius of Antioch [AD 110 [Harnack]) scatters such  
advice throughout his epistles -- see, for instance, "Ad  Magnesios" 
(Harnack's ed., "Patres apostolici", II, 29).  The letters of St. 
Cyprian (AD 248) are, many of them,  either wholly or in part written 
about the care of souls  (cf. P. L., IV, 194 sq.) -- "Qui Antistites in 
ecclesia  eligendi?", "Qualis esse debeat vita sacerdotum?" etc.  His 
"De lapsis" (P. L., IV, 477) is a classic among  pastoral instructions. 
St. Gregory Nazianzen (A.D. 389),  explaining his flight to Pontus, 
tells his ideas of the  pastor of souls in "Oratio apologetica de fuga 
sua", a  work sometimes called "De sacerdotio" (P. G., XXXV, 408),  and 
sets down pastoral care as a great science and art,  "Ars quædam artium 
et scientia scientiarum mihi esse  videtur hominem regere". Other 
landmarks in the history  of pastoral theology are St. Ambrose, "De 
officiis  ministrorum" (P. L., XV1, 25); St. John Chrysostom, "De  
sacerdotio" (P. G., XLVIII, 623); St. Isidore of Seville,  "De 
institutione clericorum", “De institutionibus  monachorum", "De regulis 
clericorum" (P. L., LXXXIV, 25,  45, 77); St. Bernard's letters and 
treatises "De  consideratione", "De moribus episcoporum", "De  
conversione ad clericos" (P. L., CLXXXII, 727, 809, 833).  The great 
classic among patristic works on the care of  souls is "Regulæ 
pastoralis liber" (P. L., LXXVII, 13),  written by St. Gregory the 
Great (c. AD 590) to John,  Bishop of Ravenna. 
 
During the Middle Ages, there was not yet a separated and  systematized 
science of pastoral theology. Scholasticism  did not recognize this 
science apart from other branches  of theology. Dogma and moral were so 
taught as to include  the application of their conclusions to the care 
of  souls. Still, even then writings of the great Doctors of  the 
Church were at times purely pastoral; such were the  "Opuscula", 17-20, 
of St. Thomas Aquinas; St.  Bonaventure's "De sex alis seraphim", "De 
regimine  animæ", "Confessionale"; the "Summa theologica" (Books  II, 
III), together with the “Summa confessionalis" of St.  Antoninus, 
Bishop of Florence. At the same time, writers  on mystical theology 
(see V. MYSTICAL THEOLOGY) have  often entered into the domain of 
pastoral theology. Not  until the period of the Counter-Reformation did 
the  science of pastoral theology take its present  systematized form. 
During the latter half of the  fifteenth century, in certain places, 
pastoral duties  were very much neglected. By the dawn of the sixteenth  
century, the care of souls was to many priests and not a  few bishops a 
lost or a never-acquired art, with the  result that the laity were 
ready to throw off what was  deemed to be a useless clerical yoke. In 
such places, a  reform of the clergy was sorely needed. The Council of  
Trent set itself to bring about a true reformation of the  priesthood. 
Catholic bishops and theologians followed the  lead of the council. The 
result was the treatment of the  care of souls as a science by itself. 
During the  following centuries of true reform and of battle with  
false reform, the most scientific treatises on pastoral  duties and 
rights were written. John of Avila, Louis of  Granada, Peter de Soto, 
Claude le Jay (Institutiones  practicae), Neumayr (Vir apostolicus), 
Possevin (Praxis  curae pastoralis), Segneri, Olier, Molina, Toledo (De  
instructione sacerdotum), Cardinal Cajetan, St. Charles  Borromeo 
(Instructio pastorum), the works of St. Francis  de Sales, of 
Rodriguez, of Scaramelli -- such are a few  of the scientific treatises 
that did much to illumine and  to strengthen the pastors of the 
Counter-Reformation, In  1759 St. Alphonsus Liguori issued his great 
pastoral  theology, "Homo apostolicus". He epitomized the  conclusions 
reached by him in his "Moral Theology",  applied these conclusions 
practically to the work of  hearing confessions, and added four 
appendices bearing  specifically upon such pastoral duties as the 
direction  of souls, the assistance of the dying, the examination of  
those to be ordained priests, and the duties of  confessors and pastors 
in regard to their own as well as  their flock's sanctification. This 
work, together with  the legislation of Benedict XIV in the matter of 
diocesan  synods, gave a great impetus to the science of pastoral  
theology. 
 
D. 	Sources 
 
Tradition and the Holy Bible, in so far as they portray  the ideal 
Priest, Teacher, and Pastor, and hand down to  us His ideas for the 
care of souls, are the first sources  of pastoral theology. As evidence 
of Tradition the  decrees of general councils are of the highest 
moment.  Next come pontifical Constitutions -- Bulls, Briefs, and  Motu 
Proprios; decrees of Roman Congregations; the works  cited in Sanford-
Drum, op. cit. below; the various  sources of dogmatic and moral 
theology and of canon law,  in so far as they bear directly or 
indirectly upon the  care of souls. Decrees of various provincial 
councils and  diocesan synods together with pastoral letters of  
archbishops and bishops are also among the sources whence  pastoral 
theology draws. For ecclesiastical legislation,  one must follow the 
"Acts Apostolicæ Sedis", a monthly  official bulletin published in 
Rome; the promulgation of  laws, authentic interpretations, decisions 
and rescripts  of the Roman Curia is now effected ipso facto by  
publication in this periodical. For past decisions the  various decreta 
authentica of different Roman  Congregations must be consulted. Such 
are "Thesaurus  resolutionum Sacræ Congregationis Concilii", from 1718  
(Rome); "Decreta authentica Congregationis Sacrorum  Rituum" (Rome, 
1898); "Decreta authentica sacræ  Congregationis Indulgentiis Sacrisque 
Reliquiis  Præpositæ", from 1668 to 1882 (Ratisbon); Pallottini,  
"Collectio omnium decretorum Sacræ Congregationis  Concilii" (Rome, 
1868); Bizarri, "Collectanea Sacræ  Congregationis Episcoporum et 
Regularium" (Rome, 1863,  1885); "Collectanea Sacræ Congregationis de 
Propaganda  Fide" (Rome, 1893, 1907). A handy reference work in this  
matter is Ferraris, "Prompta bibliotheca", together with  its 
supplement edited by Bucceroni (Rome, 1885). Ojetti,  "Synopsis rerum 
moralium et juris pontificii" (Prato,  1904), is also useful. For the 
pastoral care of religious  communities, necessary information may be 
obtained from  Vermeersch, "De religiosis et missionariis supplementa 
et  monumenta", together with the periodical supplements  thereto 
(Bruges, 1904--), and Dom Bastien, "Constitution  de Léon XIII sur les 
instituts à vœux simples et leur  relations avec les autorités 
diocésaines" (Bruges), a  work which has been translated into English 
by Lanslots  (Pustet, New York). Periodicals giving current direction  
and information as to the care of souls are: "Acta Sanctæ  Sedis" 
(Rome, from 1865), now discontinued; "Analecta  juris pontificii" 
(Rome, 1833; Paris, 1869), replaced by  "Analecta ecclesiastica" (Rome, 
1893-1911); "II Monitore  Ecclesiastico" (Rome, 1876); "The American 
Ecclesiastical  Review" (Philadelphia, 1889); "The Irish Ecclesiastical  
Record" (Dublin, 1865); "Nouvelle Revue Théologique"  (Tournai, 1869); 
"Theologischpraktische Quartalschrift"  (Linz); "Zeitschrift für 
katholische Theologie"  (Innsbruck, 1877). 
 
E. 	Contents 
 
From the days when St. Gregory the Great wrote his  classic "Regulae 
pastoralis liber", the duties that make  for the care of souls have 
been conveniently divided into  those of the teacher, of the minister 
of the sacred  mysteries, and of the shepherd; pastoral theology  
purposes to impart the knowledge of these duties and of  the treatise 
known as "pastoral medicine", the medical  knowledge requisite for the 
proper care of souls. 
 
Under the head of teacher are treated the duty of  teaching, the 
qualities of the teacher, his training, the  models of teaching left us 
by the Fathers and Doctors of  the Church, as well as by distinguished 
preachers and  catechists, and the occasions and forms of instruction  
suited for the various needs of the faithful, young and  old, literate 
and illiterate. The Council of Trent, in  the fifth session, lays down 
a twofold duty of the  teacher, to preach on Sundays and festivals, and 
to give  catechetical instruction to children and to others who  have 
need of such instruction. Benedict XIV, in his  Constitution, "Etsi 
Minime", calls special attention to  this latter most important duty. 
Plus X, in his  Encyclical on the teaching of Christian doctrine (15  
April, 1905), insists once again on the paramount need of  catechetical 
instruction. All parish priests, and all  others to whom the care of 
souls is committed, must teach  the catechism to their young girls and 
boys for the space  of one hour on all Sundays and holy days of the 
year  without exception, and must explain to them what one is  bound to 
believe and practise in order to be saved. These  children shall, at 
stated times during each year, be  prepared by more extended 
instruction for the Sacraments  of Penance and Confirmation. Daily 
instruction during  Lent, and even after Easter, will make the young 
children  of both sexes ready for their first Holy Communion.  
Moreover, an hour every Sunday and holy day shall be  devoted to the 
catechetical instruction of adults. This  lesson in catechism, in plain 
and simple language, is to  be given over and above the Sunday homily 
on the Gospel  and the children's instruction in Christian doctrine. 
 
As minister of the sacred mysteries, the priest must not  only know the 
nature of the sacraments, so far as  dogmatic theology explains it, 
besides what is needed for  their valid administration, as taught in 
moral theology,  but must also possess such additional knowledge as may  
serve him in his spiritual ministrations -- for instance,  in attending 
the sick, in advising what is lawful or  unlawful in critical 
operations, especially in such as  may affect childbirth; in directing 
others, when  necessary, how to baptize the unborn child; in deciding  
whether to confer extreme unction or other sacraments in  cases of 
apparent death, etc. 
 
Finally, as pastor, a variety of duties have to be  mastered, which 
keep growing and varying in number  constantly with the complicated 
conditions of modern  life, especially wherever there is a tendency to 
mass  people together in large cities, or wherever migration to  and 
fro causes frequent change. This, perhaps, is the  main part of 
pastoral theology. The organization of  parishes; the maintenance of a 
church and other  institutions that grow up around it; the management 
of  parish schools; the formation of societies for men and  women, 
young and old; the vast number of social works  into which a priest in 
a modern city is almost  necessarily drawn -- all these points furnish 
material  for instruction, which, as the fruit of experience, can  
rarely be conveyed through books. Usually the priest  acquires 
sufficient knowledge of all these things from  prudent directors as he 
goes through his seminary course,  or from his own experience under a 
competent pastor; but  gradually an extensive literature on these 
subjects has  accumulated during the past half century, and it is the  
systematization of such writings that constitutes  pastoral theology. 
 
The chief authorities down to the time of ST. ALPHONSUS,  Homo 
apostolicus (1759), have already been mentioned in  the body of the 
article. Since (1759) have appeared the  Pastoral Theologies of 
GOLLOWITZ-WIEDEMANN (Ratisbon,  1836); AMBERGER (1850); STANG (New 
York, 1897); SCHULZE  (Milwaukee, 1906); ALBERTI (Rome, 1901-1904); 
POEY  (Montrejeau, 1912); NEUMAYR, ed. DE AUER, Vir Apostolicus  
(Schaffhausen, 1853); REUTER, ed. LEHMKUHL, Neo- confessarius (Freiburg 
im Br., 1905); ZENNER, Instructio  practica confessarii (Vienna, 1840); 
FRASSINETTI, Parish  Priests' Manual; BERARDI, Praxis confessarii 
(Faenza,  1899); HEUSER, The Parish Priest on Duty (New York);  KRIEG, 
Wissenscheft der Seelenleitung (Freiburg im Br.).  For questions on 
pastoral medicine, the following works  are of use: ESCHBACH, 
Disputationes physiologico- theologicœ (Rome, 1901); ANTONELLI, De 
conceptu  impotentiœ et sterilitatis relate ad matrimonium (Rome,  
1900); DEBREYNE-FERRAND, La théologie morale et les  sciences medicales 
(Paris, 1884); SURBLED, La morale dans  ses rapports avec la médicine 
et I'hygiène (Paris, 1897);  Pastoral Medicine by STÖHR (Freiburg im 
Br., 1878); VON  OLFERS (Freiburg im Br., 1881); CAPELLMANN (Aachen,  
1901); O'MALLEY AND WALSH (New York, 1907); SANFORD-DRUM  (New York, 
1905); ANTONELLI (Rome, 1909). 
 
Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter

From the Catholic Encyclopedia 
Copyright © 1913 by the Encyclopedia Press, Inc. 

Electronic version copyright © 1996 by New Advent, Inc.
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