27 September 2018
Lay People Working for a New Missionary Mind
The international meeting on the promotion and formation of the laity has entered into the heart of the matter
"Pope Francis with the meeting’s participants at the end of the general audience"
The international meeting on the promotion and formation of the lay faithful began yesterday with the participation at Pope Francis’ General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. This meeting, organized by the Dicastery, has brought together representatives of fifteen Bishops’ Conferences of the various continents. The atmosphere in St. Peter’s Square, with the presence of faithful from all over the world and the Holy Father’s words, recalling the recent trip to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, has placed everyone in the climate of the universal Church composed of different peoples and languages, cultures, and traditions that have a lot to offer to each other.
The objective of the work, as Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery, said at the opening of the assembly in the afternoon, is to “broaden our understanding of the current conditions of the lay faithful” and to “extend our gaze to the ever more secularized corners of society that are easily overlooked when discussing the life of the Church.” “We cannot limit ourselves to what is already in the ‘sphere of the Church’—said Cardinal Farrell—but we can start offering support to our brothers and sisters in Christ who may not have the organization or resources to launch programs and initiatives for carrying out the mission of evangelization.”
With this aim, the Dicastery is listening to the experiences of some African countries, who are the first to present their realities and initiatives. The Mini World Youth Day held every two years in South Africa; the formation offered by movements and associations in Ghana, together with the idea of a virtual college; the Catholic Social Forum, established in 2000 by the Council for the Laity of the Nigerian Bishops’ Conference, which deals with the formation of the laity for participation in the country’s political life are just some of these initiatives.
Then, going on to hear from Latin America, Brazil illustrated the initiatives of the Year of the Laity in conjunction with the creation of the National Center of Faith and Politics Dom Helder Camara, and Venezuela brought the testimony of laypeople who, despite the current crisis and economic limits, have not ceased their initiatives: schools of formation, the institution of ministries, and periodic general assemblies of the laity.
“The Lord wants us to put ourselves in a missionary perspective,” said Card. Farrell in his homily at the Eucharistic celebration that concluded the day, and the mission “is never a solitary enterprise; on the contrary, it is necessary to be part of a ‘body,’ to have received a call from the Lord, and to always act in communion with all the other disciples.” This is the communion that we want to seek during these days of work together.