The Vicar of Christ Speaks

INTRODUCTION: In this "Lay Person's Guide to the Pope's Encyclicals" we catch a synopsis of the Holy Father's wisdom adroitly capsulized by Dr. Joseph Bagiackas, Ph.D. In his Papal Exhortation "Christifideles Laici", the Holy Father exhorts the laity to faithfulness. It is appropriate we follow-up November's pertinent document from the Holy See on Instructions to the Laity and Priests on abuses, by reinforcing the Pope's teachings with this Apostolic Exhortation imparted ten years ago. Now ten years later, after the "ten year period of grace" Our Blessed Mother spoke of to Father Don Stefano Gobbi back in 1988, we revisit this important letter from the supreme pontiff and, through the expert analysis of Dr. Bagiackas his holiness' words will be clearer and more simple to understand and most meaningful in these times when there are so many who, rather than pulling together for God's Will, are pulling apart within the laity. The eminent prelate from New York John Cardinal O'Connor has said of Dr. Bagiackas' work: "These summations will draw the reader closer to knowing God and will encourage broader readership of the writings of this remarkable Pope." BELOW: the elevent installment of Christifideles Laici: Part one of Chapter Four

A Lay Person's Guide to Pope John Paul II's Teaching on the Laity

by Dr. Joseph Bagiackas

To read the entire Apostolic Letter click on Christifideles Laici

eleventh installment:

Chapter Four: 15. Vocations According to One's Age

      Pope John Paul II constantly calls young people the "hope of the Church." They are not just "objects of pastoral concern," but must be active participants in evangelization and renewal of society. Small children too, so cherished by Our Lord, have a role to play even at early stages in the sanctification of their parents and the strengthening of their families. Seniors must not yield to the temptation to let up in efforts at ministry when they begin to slow down physically. Old age can be a time of new apostolic endeavors, especially for those who retire.

16. The Place of Women

     The Pope first speaks of the urgent need to defend the dignity of women in society. With regard to the Church, women need to become able to participate more widely in the Church’s mission. In the case of Our Lord Himself, women had key roles to play in His ministry, "though they were not called to the apostolate of the Twelve." The early Church gave women a much higher place than the surrounding culture. The whole history of the Church has been marked by women having a more substantial role than in our day, the Church must intensify its efforts to give women greater recognition within the Church and in society. Men and women are equal in Christ, while having complementary roles in some areas. The pope refers his readers to his apostolic letter, On The Dignity of Women, for further discussion of this theme.

      Regarding mission, women and men are equally called to evangelization and building up the Church within. Women cannot be ordained, according to the clear will of Christ. But though this function is not open to them, they are equal to men in dignity and holiness. This "theoretical" assertion must be lived "in practice." Women must be more part of the consultation process in dioceses and parishes. Their role in catechesis and formation, always strong in the past, must be fostered even more. Also, women need to fight against certain current trends which degrade them. The dignity of motherhood must be defended. Women must fight harder in the public arena for moral values in places like schools, media, business, and the like. And women, who have a special sensitivity for caring for all persons, male and female, have a unique ability to combat the dehumanizing trends of society today. Lay men also must take more responsibility for the Church, letting women do "religious things," as though this were unmanly.

Next week: Chapter Four continued: The Role of the Sick and Suffering and the Basic States in Life.