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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

ON POPE FRANCIS
(Part 74)

THE LAITY IN THE CHURCH’S MISSION - 2


April 26, 2016

The New Evangelization is about empowerment of the laity. With 99 lost sheep out of a hundred, the bulk of the workers that will bring in the harvest will necessarily be the laypeople.

Laypeople are not second-class in the Church, in relation to clerics and the hierarchy. There are just different roles, but all participate in the priestly, prophetic and kingly ministry of Jesus. Laypeople are not to wait for their marching orders from clerics, but are directly commissioned by Jesus and sent by the Holy Spirit.

I want to go further. While the hierarchy does speak about the important role of the laity, oftentimes it is associated with being a positive influence on the temporal order. They are encouraged to be involved in and bring the light of Christ to the social, economic and political spheres. But the laity are called also to be deeply involved in the spiritual realm, including the work of evangelization and formation of God’s people.

One lay response to the call to the New Evangelization is LCSC. This is about mainstreaming Catholic lay evangelization. This is about getting all Catholics not only to live Christ but also to share Christ. This is about forming leaders and workers in parishes. This is about animating and strengthening the localized units of parishes, which are the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs). This is about partnering with clerics and religious in order to do a holistic work of building up and renewing our Church.

Arise, laity, and onward to the New Evangelization!

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Pope raps clericalism, encourages lay evangelization

April 26, 2016
"Clericalism leads to the homogenization of the laity," Pope Francis complained in a message to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

The Pope's message -- which was dated March 19 but released by the Vatican press office on April 26-- stressed that the Church is not the "property" of the clergy or the hierarchy. Pastors, the Pope wrote, should serve their people. "A pastor cannot conceive of himself without a flock," he remarked. The Pontiff urged priests to be mindful that all Christians share a common vocation, and "we all enter the Church as lay people."

When clerics try to control the apostolic work of the laity, the Pope continued, they tend to limit "the boldness necessary to be able to bring the Good News of the Gospel to all areas of social and above all political activity." In that field, he said, lay people can and should take the initiative.

"Clericalism, far from inspiring various contributions and proposals, gradually extinguishes the prophetic flame of which the entire Church is called to bear witness," the Pope wrote. He observed sadly that "he have generated a lay elite, believing that committed lay people are only those who work in relation to 'priests' matters,' and we have forgotten and neglected the believer who very often exhausts his or her hope in the daily struggle to live the faith."

Pope Francis remarked on a "very interesting phenomenon" that has appeared in Latin America, which he described as "popular pastoral ministry." He said that clerics should support this trend, "looking for a way to encourage, accompany, and stimulate all attempts and efforts that today are already being made to keep hope and faith alive in a world full of contradictions, especially for the poorest, and especially with the poorest."

References:

  • The Spirit is not the 'property' of the ecclesial hierarchy, writes the Pope in his letter to president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America (Bollettino)

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