The Role of The Laity

Continuing our adult faith formation series at St. Thomas Apostle on The Church and the Modern World (see prior posts here, here and here, I gave a talk last evening on Vatican II and the Role of the Laity.

Prior to Vatican II, there was a tendency to view the laity as a passive body. Church meant hierarchy and the laity were not seen as having an active role on the work of the Church. Vatican II sought to change that view, characterizing the Church as the People of God, which is made up of lay as well as clergy and religious. (“We are the Church.”)

Yet, despite the fact that it effected a sea-change in our understanding of the role of the laity in the Church and in the world, we hear very little about the Council’s teachings on this matter at the parish level. Thus, Bill Nolan and I thought it an important topic to include as part of our series, with the goal of encouraging participants to think more deeply about their vocation as laypersons in this post Vatican II world.

I began by talking about what the Council said about laity and then moved on to discuss some of the ways the Council’s teachings have been translated (and sometimes misinterpreted). I also talked about some of the challenges of our living up to what Vatican II asks of us. As usual, we left time at the end of the talk for people to engage in some small group discussion and questions and answers.

You can access a recording of my talk here or stream it from the icon below. (The podcast runs for 35:51.) I refer in my talk to excerpts of several documents that I distributed to participants at the beginning of our session; that handout is here.