Pope Francis hits out at clericalism and lay elites

Pope Francis has again hit out at a clerical mindset which obstructs the laity from taking its proper role.

The papal criticism came in a letter from Francis to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

Cardinal Ouellet is also the Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops, which plays a crucial role in appointing leaders of dioceses across the world.

The letter, released by the Vatican on Tuesday, followed a meeting between the Pope and members of the Latin America commission.

The role of laity in Latin American countries was discussed at the meeting.

Francis stated in the letter: “The laity are part of the holy faithful People of God, and are therefore the protagonists of the Church and the world; we are called to serve them, not to make use of them.”

He stated that priests must trust that the Holy Spirit is working in lay people and that the Spirit “is not only the ‘property’ of the ecclesial hierarchy”.

He noted that “no one is baptised a priest or bishop” and described clericalism as “one of the greatest distortions affecting the Church in Latin America”.

Francis criticised the “homogenisation” of the lay person that clericalism brings about, as well as the notion that the only committed lay people are those who work in church roles.

“Without realising it, we have created a lay elite believing that only those who work in things of priests are committed laypersons; and we have forgotten, neglected the believer that many times has their hope burned away in the daily fight to live the faith,” stated the pontiff.

Pope Francis spoke of the importance of giving encouragement and support to the efforts of the lay faithful who work in the public sphere.

He stressed “it is not the job of the pastor to tell the lay people what they must do and say” in those situations, adding “they know more and better than us”.

Rather, pastors “must remain at the side of our people, accompanying them in their work and stimulating that capable imagination of responding to current problems”.

Sources

News category: World.

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