Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation

Pope Francis and the laity’s valuing

Aleteia 18.02.2023 Hugues Lefèvre Translated by: Jpic-jp.org

In a long speech given to participants in a Vatican congress on the sharing of responsibilities between priests and laity, the Pope stressed on 18th of last February that the necessary valorisation of the laity did not depend on a decrease in the number of priests nor on a desire to respond to demands.

For the Pope, it is based on a "correct vision of the Church" in which the laity and clerics are invested as baptized people in the service of the mission.

As part of the Synod on the Church’s future, the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life organised an international congress for the heads of episcopal commissions for the laity on the theme "Pastors and lay faithful called to walk together". More than 200 people - half of them lay people - from all over the world came to Rome for the event, which took place from 16th to 18th February.

During the audience, the Pope presented his dream of an "integral ecclesiology" where laity and clergy would move forward together and not in an autonomous or parallel way.

Separation is the "most serious" temptation of the moment.

He began by painting a bleak picture of a Church where "clergy is separated from laity", "consecrated persons from clergy and faithful", "intellectual faith of certain elites from popular faith", "Roman Curia is separated from particular Churches", "bishops from priests", "young people from the elderly" or "spouses and families little involved in community life" and finally "charismatic movements are separated from parishes". For the Pope, this trend is the "most serious" temptation of the moment.

On the contrary, it is a question of rediscovering a unity oriented towards the mission. In order to break down this feeling of "classes" in the Church, the Pope invited us to consider each of its members not according to his or her title or function, but as a "baptised person". He then pointed out that in the New Testament the word "lay" does not appear. "We speak of believers, disciples, brothers, saints," he noted.

For him, it is therefore necessary to go back to the origins and the essentials: "We are baptised, Christians, disciples of Jesus. Everything else is secondary". Improvising, the Pope made the assembly smile: "But, Father, even a priest? - Yes, it is secondary - even a bishop? - Yes, it's secondary - Even a cardinal? - It's secondary.

The laity are not "guests".

In this way, the Pope wanted to cut short the rumours that the rise in power of the laity was a response to the demands of the contemporary world.

"The need to value the laity does not depend on any theological novelty, nor even on functional requirements linked to the reduction in the number of priests; nor does it derive from categorical demands aimed at granting revenge to those who have been side-lined in the past", he affirmed, adding that it was actually based on "a correct vision of the Church". "The lay faithful are not guests in the Church, they are at home", he insisted again, also stressing the importance of valuing the place of women.

In a second step, he detailed the places where the collaboration between laity and clerics should take place: catechesis and formation, government structure, administration of goods, planning and implementation of pastoral programmes, etc. Lay people should also be able to "help in the spiritual accompaniment of other lay people and contribute to the formation of seminarians and religious," Pope Francis listed.

To establish this culture, the Pope said priests should be trained, from the seminary onwards, in daily and ordinary collaboration with the laity. The challenge is that this "living communion should become a natural way of acting for them, and not an extraordinary and occasional fact".

See Le pape François et la valorisation des laïcs

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The comments from our readers (1)

Paul Attard 30.04.2023 Is this not similar to Vatican II? I seem to remember that the word laity was used a lot and that the message was that laity were to be seen as an essential part of the church. The church is perhaps still seen as “us and them”. Perhaps in Britain the “church” (namely Anglican) should be disestablished. It its considered irrelevant. It wants to keep in “fashion” with the times, such as blessing same sex marriages. Then it loses its respect of the laity. Here in Spain the “church” (namely Catholic) is seen as part of the ‘establishment', something that younger people will always be against. We do not attend mass in the village much now. Instead, we attend an online gathering on Sundays of the “Issachar community” who are bible believing Christians. At least it’s in English!!!! And they have ’sermons’ of at least half an hour. I’ve always experienced that the Catholic Church doesn’t teach its flock very much about the bible. Evangelical churches tend to do so much more. Just some thoughts.