Usually, when you see this headline, what follows is a story about a person or group who is unhappy with the church and wants it to change–now! So, it might surprise you to learn that these are the words of Pope Benedict XVI. Needless to say,I was interested in reading more and was really pleased to see that what he is talking about is a deeper understanding of the co-responsibilityof clergy and laity for parish life and for the work of evangelization.
His remarks are an adress he gave at the Pastoral Convention of the Diocese of Rome on May 26. Here is the link to the full text of the speech. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2009/may/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20090526_convegno-diocesi-rm_en.html
Co-responsibility of the laity
Pope Benedict points out that many of the baptized “do not feel part of the church community and live on its margins, only coming to parishes…to recieve religious services.” He beleives this is so for two reasons. Firstly, he calls for renewed efforts in formation and a clearer understadning of what it means to be the People on God in the Body of Christ. Secondly, he speaks directly to the clergy and reminds them that “the laity can no longer be viewed as ‘collaborators’ of the clergy but truly recognized as ‘co-responsible,’ committed laity.” You can hear in this an echo of St. Paul who spoke of co-wokers in the vineyard.
Become actively co-responsible
Pope Benedict XVI is presenting a terrific challenge for clergy and laity to take full responsibility for the evangelizing mission of our parishes. This is a timely challenge because this is the time of year that our parishes are looking for people to share their gifts with the body of Christ. Parishes need catechists, bible study leaders, ushers, lectors, and volunteers for all the services the parish offers to parishioners and to the community. One of the easiest ways to make your parish feel like a community is to get involved in a ministry or group.
Pope Benedict’s vision for our parishes is that we strive to restore life to small groups within the parish. He dreams that our parishes be centers where “it is possible to experience faith, to put charity into practice and to organize hope.” He ends his talk by saying that the “future of Christianity and the Church of Rome also depends on the commitment and witness of each one of us.”