A statement of desire for the Church’s mission leads off the final three paragraphs on the laity:
213. Today the entire Church in Latin America and the Caribbean wants to place itself in a state of mission.
The laity are indispensable to the mission of Jesus:
As Pope John Paul II used to tell us, the continent cannot be evangelized today without the collaboration of the faithful laity. They must play an active and creative role in the preparation and execution of pastoral projects for the community. This demands a greater open-mindedness on the part of their shepherds in understanding and accepting the “being” and the “doing” of lay people in the church, who by their Baptism and Conﬁrmation are disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ. In other words, the lay person must deﬁnitely be taken into account in a spirit of communion and participation.
Clergy and lay people: working together.
Each of the last two popes approved of various associations outside the parish structures.
214. In this regard, the strengthening of varied lay associations, ecclesial apostolic movements, paths of Christian formation, ecclesial communities, and new communities, which should be supported by the pastors, are a hopeful sign. They help many baptized and many missionary groups to assume their Christian identity more responsibly, and to collaborate more actively in the mission of evangelization. In recent decades, various associations and lay apostolic movements have taken a strong leading role. Accordingly, adequate discernment, encouragement, coordination, and pastoral guidance, especially by the successors of the apostles, will help order this gift toward the ediﬁcation of the one Church.(Cf. Benedict XVI, Homily in the celebration of ﬁrst vespers on the Vigil of Pentecost, Meeting with movements and new ecclesial communities, June 3, 2006)
Ecclesial groups also affirmed here:
215. We recognize the value and effectiveness of parish councils, and of diocesan and national councils of lay people, because they foster communication and participation in the church and their active presence in the world. Building citizenship in the broadest sense, and building ecclesiality in lay people is one and the same movement.
These were my takeaways:
- In order to move the Church more toward mission and away from maintenance, clergy and lay must collaborate more closely. Priests and deacons have the experience with ecclesial systems, and laity in the world.
- Lay people must see themselves as disciples by reason of their baptism. Missionaries: that term has strong association with overseas work in less-comfortable surroundings. The reality is that there has always been opportunities for evangelization in Christian lands, however much we like to think of our Western societies as rooted in God.
- Parish groups and lay associations distinct from parishes have contributions to make. Bishops are concerned about good order in all of it.
- Paragraph 215 offers an interesting perspective: that lay involvement in the Church and in the world are two aspects of the same initiative.
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.