Insert summary of Understanding here.
The lay vocation
Many influential positions in the Church are already filled by lay people -- diocesan chancellors, superintendents of schools, heads of Human Relations Offices, trustees of Catholic agencies and institutes. This observation is even more true of the regular staff members of such organizations. Catholic schools, Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, FOCUS -- the hands of the Church are mostly lay people. Then there are lay movements that have been remarkably vital in our time -- the Neocatechumenal Way, St. Egidio, Communion and Liberation, Focolare, Opus Dei, Regnum Christi, Schönstatt.
Catholics in these positions are part of the Church, the people of God. And they play particularly important roles in the work of evangelization. But we need to assure that they do their work with the proper spiritual and practical formation. At the most basic level they need to understand the theology that makes our Church Catholic. What can and can’t be changed in the current place marked out for the laity in the Church? We need to explore with them, and give further attention generally, to Lumen Gentium, Evangelii Gaudium, Christifideles Laici, Apostolicam Actuositatem, and other documents that address these issues.
Relationship between clergy and laity
The sexual abuse crisis has moved many Catholics to ask other questions about the place of the laity and the understanding of the priesthood. Why does the Roman Catholic Church not have married priests? (And why are there different rules for Maronite Catholics, and former Episcopalians?) Why can’t there be a role for the laity in the selection of bishops?
This part of the initiative will be led by Prof. Susan Timoney from the School of Theology and Religious Studies. She will be joined by a number of other people, depending on the subject matter. On the theological role of the laity: members of our School of Theology and Religious Studies, and consultants from the Committee on Doctrine.
Other areas of study
- On celibacy and sexuality: members of our School of Theology and Religious Studies, faculty from the John Paul II Institute, consultants from the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
- On the formation of lay leadership for Church service: members of our School of Theology and Religious Studies, consultants from the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth.
- On the education and formation of Catholic school teachers and administrators: leaders of our Department of Education.
- Ecclesiology and Church History