What is this document and what isn’t it? The USCCB says three things:
- a pastoral and theological reflection on the reality of lay ecclesial ministry
- an affirmation of those who serve in this way
- a synthesis of best thinking and practice. CVL is organized along these lines:
- theological foundations
- discernment and suitability
- policies and practices in the ministerial workplace
The document self-defines as a reference work. It does not “does not propose norms or establish particular law.”
- It expresses at this point in history what we bishops have learned from the experience of lay ecclesial ministry in the United States.
- It suggests concepts, goals, strategies, resources, and ideas to consider.
- It invites local adaptation, application, and implementation to achieve consistency where possible and to encourage diversity where appropriate.
- It calls Church leaders, ordained and lay, to become more intentional and effective in ordering and integrating lay ecclesial ministers within the ministerial life and structures of our dioceses.
Just so we’re all clear nobody’s being forced to do anything. In other words, this is the best information and advice we can spread around at this time. The best Catholics in the country have been among the people working on CVL.
Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord expresses our strong desire for the fruitful collaboration of ordained and lay ministers who, in distinct but complementary ways, continue in the Church the saving mission of Christ for the world, his vineyard.