Rio de Janeiro (Agenzia Fides) - "To recognize the importance of the lay faithful as essential to guarantee the future of the Catholic Church; to understand that they are an integral part of the ecclesial community, effective members of the Church as a result of their own
baptism: this is why they must be protagonists": says to Agenzia Fides Celso Arias, professor and theologian, member of the Pastoral Commission for the Laity in the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB), these are the objectives that must be pursued during the special "Year of the Laity" that the Church of Brazil has established for 2018 (see Fides 11/11/2017 and 26/10/2017) and whose opening was celebrated on Sunday, November 26th.
"In a Church where clericalism reigns - explains Celso Carias in a note sent to Agenzia Fides - the Year of the Laity can open new perspectives and paths, which recognize the importance of everyone, including women, who have often been given a secondary role".
After the II Vatican Council, an attempt was made to integrate the laity in ecclesial structures in Brazil and in the rest of Latin America. However, this led to a period of centralization of clerical power, of self-referentiality, which for many years relegated the laity to a marginal role in the Church's mission.
30 years have passed since the Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the vocation and mission of the laity and the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of John Paul II "Christifideles Laity". On the basis of these contributions and also resuming the most recent documents of the Magisterium, especially of Pope Francis, we will try to resume the ecclesiology of the II Vatican in the Year of the Laity in Brazil.
Recalling that Pope Francis has often stressed that the first sacrament is baptism, Professor Carias observes to Fides: "No one is born a bishop, a priest, but we are all born for the Church through baptism. Therefore, resuming this theology is essential if we want to think about the future. If we think of the modern world, urban challenges, the transmission of the experience of faith, all this without the role of the laity as protagonists, it is an impossible task", he concludes.
In Brazil, various ecclesial movements and new communities have flourished in the postconciliary Church, with the common characteristic of believing in the strong missionary impetus of lay faithful. It is estimated that in Brazil there are about 800 new communities (and the number is growing), which constitute an effective place for the laity to participate in the pastoral work of the Church.
A delegation of Brazilian Catholic laity, engaged in politics, is participating in the conference that opens today in Bogotá (1-3 December), organized by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America (Cal) and the Latin American Episcopal Council (Celam), titled "Meeting of Catholics that assume political responsibilities at the service of Latin American peoples".
Brazil is the country with the largest number of inhabitants in Latin America, 204,451,000 of whom 172,222,000 are Catholics, grouped in 275 districts. (LG/LMM) (Agenzia Fides, 01/12/2017)