Skip to main content


The Laity: Movers in the New Evangelization

6/10/2006 - 6:05 AM PST

Advertisment

Interview With Ramiro Pellitero

PAMPLONA, Spain, JUNE 10, 2006 (Zenit) - The role of the laity as the principal force behind the evangelization and transformation of society has been rediscovered, says Ramiro Pellitero.

The professor of pastoral theology at the University of Navarra, has written "The Laity in the Ecclesiology of Vatican II," published in Spanish by RIALP Editions, in which he brings together the writings of 13 authors on the vocation and mission of the lay faithful, in the light of the Second Vatican Council.

In this interview with us, the author discusses what the role of the laity in the Church.

Q: Let's begin with questions of language that might be obvious to experts, but not for those unfamiliar with these matters. The word "laity" is used today to designate the partisans of laicism. One speaks of the "lay state," "lay schools," etc. -- a position that is foreign to or even opposed to religion. I suppose that you are not using the word in this sense.

Pellitero: Indeed. The meaning of "laicism" that you are referring to is related to another term, "laicity," whose content is more conciliatory with the Christian perspective, one referring to the quality of a state or society that, without being confessional, is respectful of religion. But that's not the only meaning. My book is not about the "laymen" who are the politicians who make statement about religion but rather lay Christians, faithful Christian men and women who live in the world, and who are called to spread the Gospel message in the heart of civil society.

Q: Also, what exactly is ecclesiology? Wouldn't it be enough to refer to the "role of Christians in the Church," or something like that?

Pellitero: To speak of Christians in the Church would be correct, but confusing. First, because here we are not referring to Christians in general but to certain specific Christians, though they make up the majority of Christians -- those who are neither clergy nor members of the consecrated life. In short, they are the people in the streets, professionals, fathers, mothers, those who circulate in the cultural and political realms, and so on.

On the other hand, to speak of their role "in the Church" might be taken to refer exclusively to ecclesiastical duties or at least intra-ecclesial ones: in the parishes, the seminaries, the convents, etc. That is to say, a "world" different from the ordinary world, the environment of the street.

This is why the focus is ecclesiology -- the perspective of trying to understand the Church and its mission in close relationship with the world, and just how that mission has been understood since Vatican II.

Q: With a touch of malice, someone might ask if the Church hasn't invented the laity because of the priest shortage, or because some priests haven't been doing their jobs.

Pellitero: The laity, in the sense in which we are using the term here, have not been invented by the Church but have existed ever since the first Christians.

Today we know that the Gospel was spread throughout the Roman Empire in very little time, thanks above all to the "ordinary Christians": in families, among seafarers, soldiers, and so on.

As Pope John Paul II said, and as the present pope has repeated, all the faithful are committed to live and to spread the message of the council. That message is that the faithful laity "are" the Church as "are" the clergy, or those that Canon Law calls consecrated Christians.

In the present age of technological globalization, cultures are changing. Multiculturalism is presented as the ideal, but without dialogue, this is risky. While the West is de-Christianizing itself, everywhere there is a confused return to the sacred, blended with and even disguised by the practical idolatry of power or money. This leads to a view of life that is disenchanted and pragmatic.

In this situation, Christians and especially the lay faithful have a great task before them. They need not settle for "business as usual" or take refuge in initiatives that are officially Catholic. They have a mission to personally carry out, along with others, if they wish, who may or may not be believers, with coherence between their faith and their lives, with an attitude of dialogue, in search of love and justice, participating in cultural and political life, and with special attention to the neediest people.

The lay faithful are called to live out all human realities in the Christian spirit. This was the constant teaching of the founder of Opus Dei and the University of Navarra, Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer. Such is the theme of this book.

Q: Could you explain in more detail how the Second Vatican Council understood the vocation and mission of the laity? What is the relationship between Christian faith and the things of everyday life, ...

1 | 2  Next Page

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:7-16
On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in whatever ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
[Song of Ascents Of David] I rejoiced that they said to me, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:1-9
It was just about this time that some people arrived and told ... Read More

Saint of the Day

October 25 Saint of the Day

St. Daria
October 25: There is very little known about them. Chrysanthus was an ... Read More