Church is people of God
The Bishops’ Conference of Brazil has already decided to observe “An Year of the Laity” starting from the Feast of Christ the King 2017 to the same feast in 2018.
The idea has struck a welcome chord with many around the world, especially the Catholic Church Reform Int’l (CCRInt’l) of which many in India and over 60 countries in the world, are active members. CCRI’l therefore took up the leadership role and sent a letter to the Cardinal Kevin Farrell, in charge of Vatican commission for ‘Laity, Family & Life’ on July 12, 2017. Fr. Giovanni Buontempo, the spokesperson for the laity commission has immediately responded to the CCRI letter saying, the whole matter is being evaluated sympathetically by the Holy See. The reply from the Vatican is given below.
Hour of the laity
Active participation of the laity in the Church is quite in tune with the vision of Pope Francis for the
Church today. In fact it was Francis who was the first to wake up the whole church saying, “it is the hour of the laity” when the so-called clerical class – priests and bishops – should stop talking and start listening to what the laity have to say to draw inspiration and guidance, because it is the laity who are in constant touch with the harsh realities of daily’s life in the world where the Church has to make its presence relevant and meaningful. The clerical class is not anywhere there.
They are usually idling their precious time in the comfort zones of the air-conditioned presbyteries. That precisely was the reason which prompted Francis to call out constantly from the very start of his pontificate: “Get out, get out from the cozy comfort of your church of the sacristy, to go to the peripheries where people in need of your urgent service live – where the “Cattle class” in opposition to the “Clerical class” — the homeless, the jobless, the poor, the sick, the lonely, the drug addicts, drunkards and prostitutes, the widows and orphans live in inhuman conditions. It is for these marginalized, discarded, uncared for riff-raffs; the least, last and lost – yes the lost sheep, not the well-cared for, that the Son of man came searching, to carry it on his shoulders to look after in a love-and-care home.
The Son man came to redeem the whole world (ut omnis hominis salvus fieri) and immediately after, as the parable of the good and bad seed sower shows, in the 3rd century came the Roman emperor Constantine (280 – 337 A.D.) in all royal splendour to snatch it from the common folks — the hoipoloi – for the private keep of a privileged few with its pyramidal hierarchal display of worldly power and pomp, which later came to be called the Catholic Church, an oxymoron, because Catholic should mean universal embracing the whole world, where as the the Constantenian Church shrunk it to the level of a privileged few. Thus was born the present ghetto-
catholicism, claiming to be universal but restricted only to its card-carrying members. That gave rise also to the proliferation of thousands of churches starting with the reformation.
Till Constantine’s take over, the followers of Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth lived as one community having everything in common, each one contributing according to his/her capacities and getting from the community according to his/her needs. So there was no one in need. There was no clergy laity divide either. For prayer and worship they gathered in various families and its head, male or female acted as the priest or celebrant. Today 99% of the bulk of believers have lost that equality of theirs with the rest, as brothers and sisters.
Hour of laity = Equality
By enforcing the hour of the laity Francis is bringing back to the catholic fold the original vision of equality among all the followers of Jesus. If and when that vision take concrete shape, during deliberations of the hour of the laity, let us fondly hope it will last much more than an hour or one year of deliberation if and when it is announced. When that happens the Catholic church will be shorn of all the present recognising and recognizable features, all to be reduced to brothers and sisters, all serving one another starting with those most in need; one who does not work according to his/her capacities should not eat; and no honorific positions or titles either.
Of course the projection of “Laity being in the forefront of the Church started way back in the time of Pius XII, only they are still in the back yard, not moved one bit to the front raw in spite of Francis telling the clergy to keep their mouth shut and listen to the laity who sweat and toil grappling with bread and butter issues from dawn to dusk.
Fear of Sabotage?
There is an awful lot to discuss which should interest all, if and when the year of the laity is announced. The only fear lurking now is whether the comfortable class in the church will allow such an explosive subject to be discussed openly in the Church, even as the “Dubia-Crazy” cardinals went berserk to prevent a happy consensus on “a God of Mercy and Compasion” which Francis had to bring out unilaterally and force it down the throat of all revered synod fathers.
So we call upon the whole battalion of the laity in the Church who form 99% of the people of God to pray earnestly so that the proposal, “Year of the Laity” may gain majority support at the Vatican for the speedy implementation of urgent reforms planned to be introduced by Pope Francis. james kottoor, editor, ccv.
Please read below the CCRI report on Year of Laity
Catholic Church Reform Int’l.
A global network seeking renewal of the Church