Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, henceforth known as CVL, was approved by the USCCB, as Rock reports:
As opposed to the action items on the death penalty and children’s Sacramentary, both of which went through with comfortable margins, the lay ministry document eked through by eight votes; 190 in favor, 49 opposed, and five abstentions. I hear that Cardinal Dulles — who, thank God, still attends the meetings religiously — can be thanked for swinging more than a handful of his confreres to the affirmative side.
What exactly is this document? It is a self-described “resource for diocesan bishops and for all others who are responsible for guiding the development of lay ecclesial ministry in the United States.”
Easy enough. It’s for the people in charge. CVL gives the history:
For several decades and in growing numbers, lay men and women have been undertaking a wide variety of roles in Church ministries. Many of these roles presume a significant degree of preparation, formation, and professional competence. They require authorization of the hierarchy in order for the person to serve publicly in the local church. They entrust to laity responsibilities for leadership in particular areas of ministry and thereby draw certain lay persons into a close mutual collaboration with the pastoral ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons.
These men and women of every race and culture who serve in parishes, schools, diocesan agencies, and Church institutions are identified by many different position titles. In Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord we identify them in a generic way as “lay ecclesial ministers.” We do so in order to reflect on what they have in common and to propose some understandings of lay ecclesial ministry situated within our social and ecclesial environment and within the framework of the Church’s belief, teaching, and pastoral practice.
The “title” of “minister,” that caused so much fuss, by the way, is faithful to how the Vatican refers to lay people in these roles. That probably won’t be satisfactory for some, but the “generic” designation is now more or less official policy. The bishops are wise to see we are still in a time of reflection and a search for understanding of this situation of lay ecclesial involvement. As we saw a few weeks ago, this was foreseen and endorsed in Apostolicam Actuositatem from Vatican II. The pragmatic touch, co-workers working in unity, seems an important consideration to keep in the forefront. Most of my colleagues and I want to work in a team environment in which we address church issues particular to our abilities and positions in union with bishops and pastors.
I applaud the bishops for their foresight and trust to issue such a document. I’m looking forward to dissecting it carefully in the coming weeks, and invite your comments, as always.