By Gabriel Sales Triguero
The Libreria Editrice Vaticana and Saint Paul’s Publishers have published the book “Symphony of the Ministries,” written by Monsignor Fabio Fabene, Under-Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, a report whose Preface has texts of Pope Francis.
According to “Vatican News,” the author said to Vatican Radio that in his work he narrates “the ecclesial journey that has led to the expansion of lay ministries and a new awareness of their centrality in a missionary Church going forth.” In face of this reality, the Holy Father invites us “to verify if we are faithful to this lay identity, restarting the clock that seems to have been stopped. The time is now.”
A Synodal and Missionary Reality
In the interview, the Prelate points out that, since the beginning of his pontificate and, concretely in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, the Holy Father reflects the importance of the laity in a Synodal and Missionary Church.
In the Preface, the Pope notes that the lay people include the majority of the People of God, who “must not be silent,” as the Holy Spirit grants the baptized the necessary charisms and ministries for the edification of the Church and for the evangelization of the world.
It was Pope Paul VI who distinguished the lay or “instituted” ministries from the “ordained,” difference highlighted in the last Synodal Assemblies. This volume stems from the writer’s experience as Synodal Under-Secretary in these meetings.
Monsignor Fabene points out that in the Synod “dedicated to the laity” and in Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici the “vocation and mission of the laity and of their ministries’ is addressed. This was a “very fruitful occasion for the whole Church to reflect on vocation.”
And “on the mission of the laity, but also on the lay ministry that Saint Paul VI had reformed by opening the ministerial way, not only for those on their way to the priesthood but also for the laity, allowing them access to be Lectors and Acolytes.”
In this line, the author refers to the recent Amazonian Synod, in which “there was much talk on the subject of ministry and, in particular, on the Apostolic Letter in the form of the Motu Proprio Ministeria quaedam, the document with which Pope Montini reformed the ministries in 1972.”
New Ministerial Season
The Prelate believes that one must begin from the point for new creativity in the sector, a new “ministerial” season, opinion influenced by the stimulus received from the Pan-Amazonian Synod.
Lay work, he stresses, “is not of substitution, but their action” and their presence “is truly necessary for the building of the ‘Church-communion” and for her missionary nature.
A Further Step
In regard to the “inculturation of the ministerial character” that the Bishop of Rome makes in the Post-Synodal Exhortation Querida Amazonia of this course, the Italian Bishop replies that “it’s a very important step” of the Successor of Peter by urging different parts of the world “ to root a “ministerial character” in their social, cultural and ecclesial contexts.
In this connection, he clarifies that it “is in fact in diversity where we find the power and creativity of the Holy Spirit. If we are all equal by virtue of Baptism, it’s the Spirit that gives room to diversity, including ministerial diversity, for the service of the Church embodied in each Continent, in each place, and in each culture, according to the need of those ecclesial communities.”
Responding to the relation of this subject with the action of the Holy Spirit, Monsignor Fabene asserted that they “are fundamental, because the ‘ministerial character’ is not a sociological or empirical fact but stems from the charisms that the Spirit gives each baptized person in the ecclesial community.” Vatican Council II, he says, “speaks clearly of this charismatic and ministerial richness.”
Participants in Christ’s Priesthood
Moreover, the Doctor in Canon Law argues that “all of us who are baptized participate in Christ’s priesthood,” also called “common priesthood.” Then there is “the ministerial priesthood of those that participate in the “ministry of ‘Christ head priest’ and act in the very person of the Lord.”
However, all “of us are participants in Christ’s priesthood and the laity acts in the Church justly because they are grafted into Christ’s priesthood, which is the baptismal priesthood,” he said.
Community Charismatic Richness
Finally, Monsignor Fabene explains the meaning of the Symphony of Ministries, referring to the “pluralism” and “unity” that exists in the Church by the work of the Holy Spirit. “The fundamental pillars of the Church are unity, communion and ministerial diversity, which isn’t uniformity, but a ‘pluriform Church,’ which manifests the richness that the Holy Spirit gives to the whole People of God.”
He concludes by expressing his desire that this work may be “a proposal, an aid, so that Pastors can bring out in fact the charismatic richness that exists in each community.”