Vatican officials emphasise empowering laypeople without “clericalising” them

Clericalised laity

Ahead of a Vatican conference, several church officials have emphasised the importance of empowering laypeople without “clericalising” them.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, spoke of “co-responsibility” between clergy and laity, saying, “It does not mean that the laity in the church have to become clerics, and clerics in the church have to become laity.”

Farrell’s comments came before a Vatican conference on collaboration between laypeople and clergy. The conference is titled “Pastors and lay faithful called to walk together,” and will take place in the Vatican’s New Synod Hall.

Farrell appeared to brush off the idea of women clergy: “The Holy Spirit gives us all a calling, and all our different gifts,” he said. “To some, he gives the gift of ordained priesthood, and to others, he gives many other gifts.

“There are many apostolates that priests are not qualified to undertake that the laity are,” he said, and cautioned against “reducing the work among the laity and the great gift that laity bring to the church, to just some ministerial role within the church.”

Linda Ghisoni, an Italian laywoman and undersecretary of the dicastery’s section for laity, cautioned against trying to stake “a claim” on certain roles or functions in the church. She said that the real discussion should focus on understanding “the nature of our vocation, our baptismal identity, which opens to us immense paths” within the church.

The conference is expected to draw delegates from all over the world, who will discuss the “co-responsibility of laypeople in the synodal church,” as well as the formation of laypeople.

Farrell said that the aim is to make both pastors and laypeople aware of the sense of responsibility that comes from baptism and that “unites us all”.

The cardinal stressed that as pastors, “we do not reduce [the] role of laity in the church to a mere functional position or involvement, but rather they are truly part of the mission of the church”.

“Laity have a lot more to offer than a mere function they can perform, such as being the accountant of the diocese,” he said, saying there is still a need to arrive at “a much deeper meaning of what it means to be co-responsible in the church”.

To do this, he said, “implies a change of heart, a change of attitude”.


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