04/03/2013 12:24

Baptismal dignity of all

Fr. Roger Purcell MSC releases his second contribution on the Teachings of the Second Vatican Council (1962-‘65) trying to elicit personal and community reflection.

22 FEB 2013. The rights and duties as members of the Church for participation in the life and mission of the church are based on baptism, rather than ordination or religious profession. This has consequences for the laity in their call to ministry and mission to transform the world. It creates for us a new equality of relationships in the Church.

The realization and steady growth of this basic and profound equality and the right and duty to be active participating members of the Church in its life and mission took many years. It was expressed in the Council in the debates, discussions and documents.  

This was taken up strongly in the Council being expressed in its documents. In the formation of Lumen Gentium the chapter on People of God was deliberately placed before that on Priests, to emphasis our equality in baptism as one people.

  • “The laity, too, share in the priestly, prophetic and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own role to play in the mission of the whole People of God in the Church and in the world.” [AA2]
  • “The laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God.” [LG 31]
  • “Laymen… are to be a leaven animating temporal affairs from within, disposing them always to become as Christ would have them.” (AD15).
  • “As members of the living Christ, all the faithful are duty-bound to cooperate in the expansion and spreading out of His Body.” [AG 36]

Scripture: Mk 1: 16-18; 1 Cor 12: 4-6

In the culture of the world today there is growing awareness of and promotion of the dignity and rights of each individual person. We recognize the human and baptismal dignity of all, and the contribution that each one can have in the work and mission of the Church. However we still see in the world great injustice, oppression and denial of people’s rights and dignity.

In the Church we find too the attitudes of clericalism and superiority of priests present in many places in the Church, promoted and accepted by both clergy and laity. We see also competition and conflict between groups, ministries and organizations in dioceses, parishes and communities. We are called to participation and co-responsibility in the mission and life of the Church. This calls for respect for each other and attitudes and actions of collaboration and cooperation.

Reflection and discussion:

Building communion in the Church requires respect for each other, our charisms, roles and functions.

  • How do we fail in this regard, and what more do we need to do?
  • How can we show respect for the human and baptismal dignity of all our brothers and sisters in our ministry, structures and lives in our community?