Catholic World News

Pope raps clericalism, encourages lay evangelization

April 26, 2016

"Clericalism leads to the homogenization of the laity," Pope Francis complained in a message to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

The Pope's message-- which was dated March 19 but released by the Vatican press office on April 26-- stressed that the Church is not the "property" of the clergy or the hierarchy. Pastors, the Pope wrote, should serve their people. "A pastor cannot conceive of himself without a flock," he remarked. The Pontiff urged priests to be mindful that all Christians share a common vocation, and "we all enter the Church as lay people."

When clerics try to control the apostolic work of the laity, the Pope continued, they tend to limit "the boldness necessary to be able to bring the Good News of the Gospel to all areas of social and above all political activity." In that field, he said, lay people can and should take the initiative.

"Clericalism, far from inspiring various contributions and proposals, gradually extinguishes the prophetic flame of which the entire Church is called to bear witness," the Pope wrote. He observed sadly that "he have generated a lay elite, believing that committed lay people are only those who work in relation to 'priests' matters,' and we have forgotten and neglected the believer who very often exhausts his or her hope in the daily struggle to live the faith."

Pope Francis remarked on a "very interesting phenomenon" that has appeared in Latin America, which he described as "popular pastoral ministry." He said that clerics should support this trend, "looking for a way to encourage, accompany, and stimulate all attempts and efforts that today are already being made to keep hope and faith alive in a world full of contradictions, especially for the poorest, and especially with the poorest."


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  • Posted by: loumiamo - Apr. 27, 2016 11:29 AM ET USA

    Yo, Randal, agreed, but only provisionally. The pastor should try to determine if a lay person has at least as much talent as he has pride, as these two are almost never in balance, and the latter is usually mistaken for the former.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Apr. 26, 2016 10:59 PM ET USA

    I couldn't agree more with the Pope. It is the wise pastor who knows how to support and unleash his lay talent.