Laity Are Not Priests' Collaborators, Says Pope

Clarifies That All Are Co-responsible for the Church

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ROME, MARCH 7, 2010 ( Benedict XVI today told parishioners of a Roman parish that there is a need to change mentalities, so as to see laypeople as co-responsible for the Church, not merely as collaborators of the clergy.

The Pope made this reflection today when he celebrated Sunday Mass at one of the parishes in the north of the Diocese of Rome, San Giovanni della Croce in Colle Salario.

The Bishop of Rome made various concrete exhortations at the parish.

Regarding movements and new ecclesial communities, he lauded the fact that the parish has been open to them from the beginning, thus «developing a wider awareness of the Church and experiencing new forms of evangelization.»

However, he added: «I call on you to continue in this direction with courage but also to dedicate yourselves to bring all of these realities together into a unified pastoral project.»

The Pontiff expressed his satisfaction that the community «wishes to promote, in regard to the vocations and the role of consecrated persons and the laity, the co-responsibility of all the members of the People of God.»

To do this, he said, «demands a change in mentality, above all with regard to the laity, ‘moving from considering them ‘collaborators’ of the clergy to recognizing them as truly ‘co-responsible’ for the being and action of the Church, promoting a mature and dedicated laity in this way.'»

Finally, the Holy Father exhorted the Christian families and youth of the parish to «let yourselves be more and more drawn by the desire to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.»

«Do not wait until others bring you other messages that do not lead to life, but make yourselves missionaries of Christ for the brothers and sisters where you live, work, study or only pass your free time,» he encouraged. «You should also establish here a strong and organic vocational program that educates families and young people in prayer and the living of life as a gift that comes from God.»

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