THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS
on the role of the Laity

INSTRUCTION on Certain Questions regarding the Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest

Twenty-third installment: CONCLUSION
part one

The Holy See entrusts this present document to the pastoral zeal of diocesan Bishops in the various particular Churches and to other Ordinaries in the hope that its application may produce abundant fruit for the growth, in communion, of sacred ministers and the non-ordained faithful.

The Holy Father reminds us that, "the particular gift of each of the Church's members must be wisely and carefully acknowledged, safeguarded, promoted, discerned and co-ordinated, without confusing roles functions or theological and canonical status". (114)

While on the one hand the numerical shortage of priests may be particularly felt in certain areas, on the other, it must be remembered that in other areas there is currently a flowering of vocations which augurs well for the future. Solutions addressing the shortage of ordained ministers cannot be other than transitory and must be linked to a series of pastoral programmes which give priority to the promotion of vocations to the Sacrament of Holy Orders. (115)

In this respect the Holy Father notes that in "some local situations, generous, intelligent solutions have been sought. The legislation of theCode of Canon Law has itself provided new possibilities, which however, must be correctly applied, so as not to fall into the ambiguity of considering as ordinary and normal, solutions that were meant for extraordinary situations in which priests were lacking or in short supply". (116)

The object of this document is to outline specific directives to ensure the effective collaboration of the non-ordained faithful in such circumstances while safeguarding the integrity of the pastoral ministry of priests. "It should also be understood that these clarifications and distinctions do not stem from a concern to defend clerical privileges but from the need to be obedient to the will of Christ, and to respect the constitutive form which he indelibly impressed on his Church". (117)

The correct application of these same directives, in the context of a living hierarchial communion, is advantageous to the lay faithful who are called to develop the rich potentiality of their specific identity and the "ever greater willingness to live it so as to fulfill one's proper mission". (118)

NEXT ISSUE: The Final Installment - Conclusion part two


DAILY CATHOLIC      Vicar of Christ Speaks     volume 8, no. 58


December 1997