Written by Joe Waters
Last week the Pontifical Council for the Laity hosted a conference in Rome on the theme "Twenty years after 'Christifideles laici': memory, development, new challenges and tasks." Pope Benedict met with the participants in the conference and had a bit to say. Here is the story from Zenit:
The Pope began by explaining how the Apostolic Exhortation "Christifideles laici" represents "an organic reassessment of Vatican Council II's teaching on the laity: their dignity as baptised persons, their vocation to sanctity, their membership of the ecclesial communion, their involvement in building Christian communities and in the mission of the Church, their witness in all areas of social life and their commitment to serve the integral growth of the individual and the common good of society".
The Exhortation serves as a guide "for discernment and for the intensification of the Church's lay commitment in the face of the social changes of recent years", said Benedict XVI. It also "indicates the 'criteria of ecclesiality' which are necessary, on the one hand, for pastors' own discernment and, on the other, for the development of associations of faithful, ecclesial movements and new communities".
"The current cultural and social situation makes this kind of apostolic activity even more urgently necessary, so as fully to share the treasure of grace and sanctity, of charity, doctrine, culture and works of which ... Catholic tradition is composed. The new generations are not only the chief recipients of such transmission, ... but also those whose hearts await proposals of truth and happiness to which to render Christian witness, as already happens in such a marvellous way. I myself was able to observe as much during the recent World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia".
Benedict XVI then went on to praise the Pontifical Council for the Laity for the importance it gives to "the dignity and participation of women in the life of the Church and of society" because "men and women, equal in their dignity, are called to enrich one another in communion and collaboration, not only in marriage and the family, but in all dimensions of society".
Finally, the Pope exhorted the pontifical council "to continue to show diligent pastoral care for the formation, witness and collaboration of the lay faithful in all those situations in which the authentic quality of human life in society is implicated".
He concluded: "I particularly reiterate the urgent need for evangelical formation and pastoral accompaniment of the new generation of Catholics involved in political life, that they may remain coherent to the faith they profess, uphold their moral rigour, capacity for cultural judgement, professional competency and passion for service of the common good".
I am moved to see that he is still talking about the experience of World Youth Day, which seems to have had a powerful effect on him.