During the month of October, Pope Francis asks the faithful to pray for the laity’s mission in the Church. “We pray that by the virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church, without falling into forms of clericalism that diminish the lay charism,” he says.
In his monthly prayer video, the Holy Father stated, “No one has been baptized a priest or a bishop. We have all been baptized as lay people. Lay people are protagonists of the Church.”
We often look to our clergy for leadership, as we should, but the pope is calling the laity to take a more active role in the Catholic Church.
“We love our priests, we love our sisters, we love our brothers—for sure those are leaders in our Church. But 99% of us are lay people. And so the pope is asking us to pray that we will claim the gifts of our baptism. Baptism is what brings us into the Church and our baptism calls us to be like Christ,” explained John Fiester of GlenMary Home Missioners.
The Holy Father especially calls for women to be given opportunities to be involved in the decisions and responsibilities of the Church. In his video, he said, “Today, it is especially necessary to create broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church. And we must emphasize the feminine lay presence because women tend to be left aside. We must promote the integration of women, especially where important decisions are made.”
This is something the Holy Father has pointed to throughout his pontificate. In his 2013 apostolic exhortation, Evangelli gaudium, the pope wrote, “Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded” (104).
Clearly, men and women have different roles in the Church. But in many areas of the world where female voices are marginalized, it is especially dire that women be given the opportunity to take a greater role and share the many gifts that God has given them.
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