Pope Benedict XVI has challenged lay people to undertake a "change in mentality" by becoming aware of "being Church and of the pastoral co-responsibility that, in the name of Christ, all of us are called to carry out".
The Pope called on the laity to become more aware of their role as he inaugurated an ecclesial conference for the Diocese of Rome on 'Church Membership and Pastoral Co-responsibility' on Friday.
"There should be a renewed becoming aware of our being Church and of the pastoral co-responsibility that, in the name of Christ, all of us are called to carry out," Pope Benedict said.
This co-responsibility should advance "respect for vocations and for the functions of consecrated persons and laypeople," he added.
Pope Benedict acknowledged that this requires a "change of mentality," especially regarding laypeople, shifting from "considering themselves collaborators of the clergy to recognising themselves truly as 'co-responsible' for the being and action of the Church, favoring the consolidation of a mature and committed laity."
He suggested that "there is still a tendency to unilaterally identify the Church with the hierarchy, forgetting the common responsibility, the common mission" of all the baptised.
"Up to what point is the pastoral responsibility of everyone, especially the laity, recognized and encouraged," he asked.
Referring to laypeople committed in the service of the Church, the Pope said there should not be "a lessening of the awareness that they are 'Church,' because Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, convokes them and makes them his People."
On the other hand, Pope Benedict cautioned against a tendency to see the People of God from a "purely sociological" point of view "with an almost exclusively horizontal perspective that excludes the vertical reference to God."
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