Bishop Cornelius Kipng'eno ARAP KORIR 
(Bishop of Eldoret, Kenya)

 

Introduction

The topic of Lay People appears in several places of the document Instrumentum Laboris. In the chapter on Proclamation it is written that "there is no need to generate greater awareness among lay people and to involve them more actively in the mission of evangelisation" (Instrumentum Laboris, no. 24). The real reason why we speak of lay ministries is not that we are experiencing a shortage of priests but that, according to Second Vatican Council, the whole Church is ministerial. All ministries in the Church are generated by the gifts the Christian receives from the Holy Spirit. The Second Vatican Council teaches that: "From the reception of these charisms, even the most ordinary ones, there arises for each of the faithful the right and duty of exercising them in the freedom of the Holy Spirit who "breathes where he wills" and at the same time in communion with his brothers and sisters in Christ, and especially with the pastors (Decree on the Apostolic Activity of the Laity, no. 3).

Based on this solid theological grounds, I want to suggest some concrete points in order to involve more deeply the laity in the ministerial nature of the whole Church: 

1) A post-Vatican II theology on ministries is to be taught not only in our major seminaries but also in our preaching and catechesis so as to overcome the traditional dichotomy between clergy and laity, the former being active and the latter being passive. This will help also the laity to overcome the almost stifling sense of inferiority and dependence that most of them have come to feel in relation to the clergy.

2) Since ministries are born in the Christian community according to its needs, special stress should be put first in creating such communities in which lay Christian communities because they foster this responsibility among Christians and make them aware of the needs around them. They are the best places for the creation of lay ministries.

3) if the lay ministry is originated through grace, we can never forget that grace builds always upon the human nature. Therefore, in order to have successful lay ministries in the Church it is not enough to create them nor to appoint the ministers. Formation of Christ's lay faithful in theology and in the Churches social teaching will enable them to assume their indispensable role as agents of evangelisation. Particular concern on this formation should appear in the programmes of our pastoral institutes and extension courses of Faculties of theology.

4) It would be helpful that this Synod names certain instituted ministries particularly suited to the needs of the Church in Africa, for example, the ministry of catechist, healing the sick, counselling, evangelising, promoting Christian marriage, justice and peace, helping the poor, extraordinary ministry for the Eucharist, leadership in the Small Christian communities. The ministry of the lay responsible of parishes in Kinshasa, Za´re, called Bakambi, should be a source of inspiration for other African countries.

5) The Synod should also commission the preparation of suitable rites of institution or commissioning for the Churches in Africa that are meaningful and well founded theologically and liturgically. In this way lay ministries will not be seen as just "causal jobs" but will be officially recognised by the pastors in the community.

6) Priests must be helped to put away the idea that they alone (or even chiefly) are responsible for the mission of the Church, which is a responsibility given to the whole community though at different levels and in different ways. Without an education for communion there is a danger of perpetuating the dichotomy between clergy and laity, leading to authoritarianism which we often condemn in political or civic leadership.

Original text: English

 

 

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