Theologians say laity needed in church decision-making

The laity is an “indispensable” part of Church governance, says the International Theological Commission.

The Commission, which helps establish official Catholic teaching, says canon law should be updated to make it compulsory for parishes to have councils that consult the laity.

An article called “Synodality in the Life of the Church” published on the Commission’s website has been approved by Pope Francis.

It expands his vision of using synods to address the major questions facing the Church.

The lay faithful “are the immense majority of the People of God …

“We have much to learn from their participation in the various expressions of the life and mission of church communities …

“Of popular piety and of general pastoral care, as well as from their specific expertise in various fields of cultural and social life,” the article says.

“This is why consulting them is indispensable in starting the processes of discernment within the framework of synodal structures.

“It is therefore necessary to overcome obstacles represented by a lack of formation and recognised forums in which the lay faithful can express themselves and act, and from a clerical mentality that risks keeping them at the margins of ecclesial life.”

The Commission says a synodal attitude and way of being flows naturally from the Second Vatican Council’s description of the church as a communion.

The Second Vatican Council emphasised the responsibility of all Catholics for the church’s life and mission, although each person has been given different gifts and roles by the Holy Spirit.

The Commission says synodality promotes the baptismal dignity and call of all Catholics and values the presence of different gifts given by the Holy Spirit.

At the same time, it recognises the specific ministry entrusted to pastors and bishops in communion with the pope for the preservation of the faith and the renewal of the church.

The Commission pointed out that synodality is “not a call for some form of a Catholic parliament.

“The pope and the bishops, assisted by their priests, still retain their decision-making authority.”

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News category: World.

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