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Pope: don't blur roles of clergy, laity

September 17, 2009

In a September 17 talk to a group of Brazilian bishops who were making their ad limina visits, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the distinct roles played by the clergy and the laity. The Pope stressed that "it is important to avoid the secularization of clergy and the clericalization of the laity." While political action is appropriate for lay people, he said, priests should not be involved in partisan political affairs. "The function of the clergy is essential and irreplaceable in announcing the Word and celebrating the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist," he said.

Similarly, the Pontiff continued, lay people should not be encouraged to assume clerical roles. The shortage of priests is not an excuse for confusion on this score, he said; if the lay people have a proper appreciation for the unique role of the priesthood, they will join in the effort to encourage more priestly vocations. Pope Benedict reminded the Brazilian prelates not to slip into a tacit belief tha the current shortage of priests is a normal or acceptable situation; the Church, he said, must energetically work and pray for more priests.


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