A co-responsible laity

Co-responsibility demands a change in mindset especially concerning the role of lay people in the Church. They should not be regarded as “collaborators” of the clergy, but, rather, as people who are really “co-responsible” for the Church’s being and acting. It is therefore important that a mature and committed laity be consolidated, which can make its own specific contribution to the ecclesial mission with respect for the ministries and tasks that each one has in the life of the Church and always in cordial communion with the bishops.

In this regard the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium describes the style of relations between lay people and pastors with the adjective “familiar”: “Many benefits for the Church are to be expected from this familiar relationship between the laity and the pastors. The sense of their own responsibility is strengthened in the laity, their zeal is encouraged, they are more ready to unite their energies to the work of their pastors. The latter, helped by the experience of the laity, are in a position to judge more clearly and more appropriately in spiritual as well as in temporal matters. Strengthened by all her members, the Church can thus more effectively fulfil her mission for the life of the world” (n. 37).

. . . Guiding people to the encounter with Christ, proclaiming his Message of salvation in languages and ways understandable to our time, marked by social and cultural processes in rapid transformation, is the great challenge of the new evangelization. I encourage you to persevere generously in your service to the Church. Live to the full your charism which consists in taking on the apostolic aim of the Church in its entirety, in a fruitful balance between the universal Church and the local Church and in a spirit of close union with the Successor of Peter and active co-responsibility with your own Pastors (cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People Apostolicam Actuositatem, n. 20). — from Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Sixth Ordinary Assembly of the International Forum of Catholic Action (2012)