The sphere in which lay people are present and active as missionaries is very extensive. “Their own field…is the vast and complicated world of politics, society and economics…”(Evangelii Nuntiandi 70) on the local, national and international levels. Within the Church, there are various types of services, functions, ministries and ways of promoting the Christian life.
On movements in the Church:
I call to mind, as a new development occurring in many churches in recent times, the rapid growth of “ecclesial movements” filled with missionary dynamism. When these movements humbly seek to become part of the life of local churches and are welcomed by bishops and priests within diocesan and parish structures, they represent a true gift of God both for new evangelization and for missionary activity properly so-called. I therefore recommend that they be spread, and that they be used to give fresh energy, especially among young people, to the Christian life and to evangelization, within a pluralistic view of the ways in which Christians can associate and express themselves.
I remember that Pope John Paul II thought well of movements that aligned with his ideals for the Church. One harsh question I might offer: Is there any need for new movements that do not exemplify the best of the mission of the Gospel? We have various groups for music, lay ministry, social media, associates of existing religious orders. These are not bad impulses. But how does each of them respond to the baptismal call to evangelize and to make disciples?
Within missionary activity, the different forms of the lay apostolate should be held in esteem, with respect for their nature and aims. Lay missionary associations, international Christian volunteer organizations, ecclesial movements, groups and solidarities of different kinds – all these should be involved in the mission ad gentes as cooperators with the local churches. In this way the growth of a mature and responsible laity will be fostered, a laity whom the younger churches are recognizing as “an essential and undeniable element in the plantatio Ecclesiae.”(Christifideles Laici 35)
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