The Laity in Historical Context

Resources »Eapr »East Asian Pastoral Review 2009 »Volume 46 2009 Number 4 »The Laity In Historical Context

Peter N. V. Hai



Since Vatican II, a Council that was concerned primarily with the nature and mission of the Church, ecclesiology has assumed a central position in Catholic theology, and the question of the laity has also come into focus in a new way in theological reflection.1 Indeed, in the wake of this Council lay activities have flourished, and efforts have been made in different parts of the world to apply and extend the Council’s teachings on the role of lay people in complex and varied situations. This paper suggests that current theologies of the laity have likewise grown from an interchange between a ressourcement (“going back to the sources”) in the tradition and a dialogue with the contemporary. They seek to apply conciliar and papal teachings to the current context while drawing on the insights of other interpretations of lay experience. Therefore, a critical survey of the historical development of the laity question in the Church, including a review of Vatican II’s theology of the laity, would help in understanding the role of lay people. This paper will first provide a historical overview of the status of lay people prior to Vatican II. Secondly, it will summarize the main conciliar teachings on the laity and lay ministry. It will conclude with a review of the changing meaning of ministry and lay ministry after a brief analysis of Leonard Doohan’s theological approaches to the question of lay people.

The Laity before Vatican Council II (1962-1965)

The terms “lay” and “laity” are derived indirectly from the Greek word laos,2 meaning “people,” and early Christian writings often used laos theou, “people of God,” to refer to the community of the Church.3 Originally it had a positive meaning with the New Testament nuance of election and consecration, and was often complemented by references such as “the chosen,” “the predestined,” “disciples,” or “the saints.”4 Clement of Rome (c. 95), in his “Letter to the Corinthians,” was the first to employ the Greek word laikόs, from which “laity” is more immediately derived, to describe the common, ordinary people in contrast to the officials.5 This negative usage of the term was subsequently fuelled by three movements in the early Christian community: the “neo-platonism’s influence on several Church Fathers, the growth of monasticism and the development of the clerical dimension of the Church.”6 By the second century, when the Church emerged with a more clearly defined and organized hierarchical structure, the laity began to be regarded as inferior to the clergy.7 From the fourth century when Church structures were similar to political ones, “the subordination of laity became a firm part of Church life.”8 With the passing of the period of persecutions, early Christians, both lay and clergy, continued to witness to their faith, no longer as martyrs but as hermits, whose monastic lifestyle became “the model of holiness.”9 The laity, already considered secondary to the hierarchy, was now depicted as “having chosen the less perfect way”10 than the monks, and hence was relegated to the third place, after the clergy and the religious.11 The inferiority and passivity of the laity continued in subsequent centuries,12 crystallized by Gratianus de Clusio’s influential statement, “Duo sunt genera Christianorum” (“There are two kinds of Christians”)13 and eventually, the Council of Trent (1545-1563) “legitimized the separation between clergy and people.”14 The laity’s loss of status and dignity lasted until the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).15

The Laity and Lay Ministries in the Documents of Vatican II

At Vatican II, by placing in the People of God the second chapter of Lumen Gentium after the first chapter on the mystery of the Church, but before the chapters on the hierarchy, the laity, and the religious, the Council Fathers formally initiated a change in the Church’s understanding of the vocation and the mission of lay people. At the beginning of chapter 4 of Lumen Gentium on the laity (no. 30), the Council categorically emphasizes the equality of all members of the Church by declaring that “everything that has been said of the people of God is addressed equally to laity, religious and clergy.”16 This fundamental equality,17 which precedes any differentiation on the basis of diversity of ministries, is based on the sacraments of baptism and confirmation,18 and a common participation in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly mission of Jesus Christ and the Church.19 The Council provides further clarification. First, the mission of Christ is given to the whole people of God,20 and “[i]n the Church there is diversity of ministry but unity of mission.”21 Apostolicam Actuositatem states clearly that lay people have a “special and indispensable” role in the Church and their mission is exclusive to them.22 Second, Lumen Gentium emphasizes the laity’s dignity qua baptized,23 affirming that every lay person “is at once the witness and the living instrument of the mission of the Church itself,” because “inserted as they are in the Mystical Body of Christ by baptism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit in confirmation, it is by the Lord himself that they are assigned to the apostolate.”24 The laity’s mission has two focuses: involvement in the world and its transformation,25 and involvement in the Church and its growth.26 The Council moves on to teach that temporal realities are good in themselves, and underscored the importance of family,27 work, civic, and social life.28 It relates the participation of lay people in the threefold mission of Christ primarily to their place in the world, by affirming that the “secular character is proper and peculiar to the laity,” and lay people’s unique way of sharing in the mission of the Church is to “seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will.”29

The relationship between the laity and the hierarchy and religious was also clarified by Vatican II.30 According to Lumen Gentium, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood “differ essentially and not only in degree”, but “each in its proper way shares in the one priesthood of Christ.”31 However, the Council does not provide “a positive theological definition of the laity, but rather a description of and an outline of their functions.”32 The 1983 Code of Canon Law,33 which was developed based on the theological insights of Vatican II,34 gives a broader concept of lay people, defining them as the Christian faithful (Christifideles) who are not in holy orders.35 Therefore, canonically speaking, the term laity also includes the unordained religious. In the Codex, the term “Christ’s faithful” includes not only the laity but also the clerics,36 who never cease to be the Christ’s faithful. The Codex divides the Church into two groups: lay and cleric. Lumen Gentium, on the other hand, divides the church into three groups: lay, cleric, and religious.37

In the documents of Vatican II, the terms “minister” and “ministry” occur over two hundred times but only nineteen of them apply to the activity of lay people.38 A detailed study of these usages shows a clear progression in the Council’s understanding of lay ministry, initially with an ad intra focus and subsequently as ad extra activities of everyday Christian life.39

The first usage occurs in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium (nos. 29, 112, 122), where lay people were accepted as liturgical ministers and their ministry relates to the munus sanctificandi (office of sanctifying).40 In the Degree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops, Christus Dominus (no. 33), ministry is used to refer to the laity’s participation in the diocesan curia sharing the munus regendi (office of governing) of the bishop. According to the Declaration on Christian Education Gravissimum Educationis (e.g., no. 7), lay people who teach Catholic children attending non-Catholic schools are said to exercise a true ministry by continuing the munus docendi (office of teaching) of the hierarchy. In contrast to the preceding documents, Apostolicam Actuositatem and Ad Gentes apply the term lay ministry to both activity within the Church—in fulfilment of the hierarchical munera (offices), and work carried out in the world—in fulfilment of the munera (tasks) of the people of God. Gaudium et Spes, the last conciliar document, considers the everyday activity of human life as ministry (e.g., no. 38).

Figure 1. Vatican II’s Theology of the Laity: Three Frameworks

Lumen Gentium


Apostolicam Actuositatem                                           Framework


The Common Priesthood of the Faithful



Ad intra


Ad extra




Figure 1 provides a graphic summary of Vatican II’s theology of the laity. Of the three frameworks proposed by the Vatican Council, the first two are by Lumen Gentium: (i) The Common Priesthood of the Faithful and (ii) The Priestly, Prophetic and Kingly Functions, and the third (iii) is by Apostolicam Actuositatem, which highlights the role of lay people in the Church (ad intra), and their double mission in the world (ad extra), namely, the proclamation of the gospel (Ad Gentes) and the contribution to the good of all people (Gaudium et Spes).

The positive understanding of the identity and role of lay people developed in the documents of Vatican II was the continuation of previous papal teachings such as the epochal statement made by Pope Pius XII in 1946: “The laity are the Church,”41 and the culmination of preconciliar works on the subject by pioneers such as Yves Congar whose postconciliar writings continued to exercise a great influence on other theological interpreters of lay experience.42 This theological reflection was developed in dynamic interaction with many different schools of thought. Hence, an overview of other postconciliar interpretations of the laity, like the one surveyed by Leonard Doohan, will assist in situating contemporary theologies of the laity in a proper context.

Leonard Doohan’s Theologies of the Laity

According to Leonard Doohan, the motifs of Vatican II’s teachings are community, incarnation, and service.43 In light of these themes, increased emphasis has been given to the values of lay life and lay mission. Doohan contends that three specific developments of Vatican II have arrested the downward trend in the life and role of the laity that began approximately from the end of the third century. The first is Vatican II’s stress on the notion of Church as communion, hence encouraging co-responsibility and collaboration of all members of the Church. The other two developments are linked to the Council’s universal call to holiness, and its declaration on the autonomy of the temporal order coupled with the teaching that building a better world is part of God’s plan.44

For Doohan, five different theologies of the laity exist, which are “often due to separating one of the three conciliar developments from the other two,” and each of these theologies of laity is implied in and depends on a particular model of the Church.45

The first theological approach sees the role of the laity being dependent on the hierarchy and their ministry as instrumental to that of the hierarchy. This theological interpretation assumes that only the hierarchy has received a mission and authority from Christ, and therefore, the laity would need the clergy’s authorization to participate in the Church’s mission.

In Doohan’s second approach, lay people appear as an ecclesial presence to the world; being naturally inserted into the temporal order, they have a specific and exclusively proper mission. This school of thought is based on the theological conviction that secular realities are good and valuable in themselves, and an understanding of the Church as the sacrament of the world, in the world, and at the service of the world.

T he third approach to lay experience, which Doohan calls a theology of world transformation, is related to, and implicit in, the theology of ecclesial presence. The emphasis here, however, is on the exercise of lay ministries in the world; their role is to change the world and redeem it for the glory of God because the world is at the same time the context of human redemption and in need of redemption. This theology postulates that lay people are not only in the world but for the world, emphasizing their social responsibility and their endeavors to eliminate injustices.

Doohan’s fourth theological approach advocates a restructuring of the Church based on a new understanding of the role of the laity which derives from an emphasis on the Church as community, on co-responsibility and collegiality, and on mission as a function of the entire Church. Other signs that call for ecclesial restructuring include the development of basic ecclesial communities, an emphasis on the priesthood of the faithful, and the creation of new lay ministries to meet community needs.

His fifth type of theological interpretation is the theology of self-discovery for the laity. This is an exploratory approach undertaken by many lay people who engage in new ministries or participate in new forms of faith sharing. Like many existing religious organizations and spiritual movements, these ministries are situational by nature, being created to respond to a specific need. They are at times ad hoc initiatives but in some ways also life-styles. Lay people discover their specific mission through these experiences, which often lead them to form a different view of their identity and role in the Church.

Doohan believes that each of these five theologies has its inherent strengths and weaknesses.46 He contends that there has been a growing demand for an approach to the Church that can be readily understood by all laity, and thus proposes the model of the “Church as family.”47 Each of the five models that Doohan explicates above seems to be biased toward either the maximalist or the minimalist tendency. The former considers all lay activities as “ministry” while the latter restricts the word to apostolic activities performed by the ordained, or to ecclesial functions sanctioned by the Church. The following section will further investigate the various meanings of the terms “ministry” and “lay ministry” in contemporary theologies.

The Changing Meaning of Ministry and Lay Ministry

Since the Second Vatican Council, there has been some confusion as to the meaning of the words “ministry” and “lay ministry.”48 The latter term is “definitely a creation of the post-Vatican II church.”49 Both the Council and the 1983 Code of Canon Law never used the term “lay ministry,” leaving theologians and local Churches the task of developing their definition. The following section provides a chronological survey of some representative definitions or descriptions of the terms “lay ministry” and “ministry” which have been proposed since the end of Vatican II up to the present time.

According to James Coriden, ministry is “the descriptive term for the whole range of service functions performed within the community of Christian believers, the tasks related to worship and sacrament as well as those which seek to satisfy the gamut of human needs, individual and social.”50 In December 1977 a group of Catholic laity and clergy issued “The Chicago Declaration of Christian Concern” arguing that “the involvement of lay people in many Church ministries” was leading to “a devaluation of the unique ministry” of lay people in the world.51 The group emphasizes that lay people are the Church-in-the world, and their primary ministry is “to transform the world of political, economic and social institutions” through their professional and occupational lives.52 Just over a year later, the Latin American bishops, continuing the thrust of the Medellín Conference,53 issued the Puebla document (Jan-Feb 1979), which gives a clear approval of the two key elements of the practice of liberation theology—the forming of basic ecclesial communities and the preferential but not exclusive love for the poor. These prelates called on Latin American Christians to perceive “the responsibilities of their faith in their personal life and in their social life” through a process of conscientisation.54

In 1982, members of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches unanimously approved the historical text Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry recommending that “the Church must discover the ministry which can be provided by women as well as that which can be provided by men.”55 Joseph Komonchak prefers to stress that “the whole Church is the primary minister of Christ in the world,” and “the various ministries are the concrete ways in which the Church … articulates its responsibility for its own self-realization in the world.”56 George Tavard reduces ministry to four functions: “proclamation, worship, education and service.”57 For Thomas O’Meara, Christian ministry is “the public activity of a baptized follower of Jesus Christ flowing from the Spirit’s charism and an individual personality on behalf of a Christian community to witness to, serve and realize the kingdom of God.”58 This definition is based on six characteristics which, he argues, constitute the nature of ministry: “Ministry is: (1) doing something; (2) for the advent of the kingdom; (3) in public; (4) on behalf of a Christian community; (5) which is a gift received in faith, baptism and ordination; and which is (6) an activity with its own limits and identity within a diversity of ministerial actions.”59 The 1983 Code of Canon Law applies the term ministry to lay activities within the Church in just seven of its 1,752 canons,60 as “a fulfillment of the hierarchical munera only,” and their exercise requires ecclesiastical authorization.61 In the Codex, lay people can participate in common,62 public,63 and under certain conditions, jurisdictional ministry.64

Writing two monographs on ministry, Edward Schillebeeckx makes a sharp distinction between the notion of ministry between “the beginning of the first millennium and the end of the second,” and proposes “a fourth ministry, alongside the episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate, bestowed by the community of the church and its leaders on pastoral workers.”65 In a pastoral letter as Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin discusses ministry from a functional and relational perspective, and describes it as “a specific activity supported and designated by the Church, which discloses the presence of God in some way in our human situation and empowers us to live more fully in the mystery of God—in communion with God and one another.”66

With a focus on caring for society, Robert Kinast believes that “the ultimate significance of the term lay ministry is not to be found in a definition,” but in the actual experience of the laity, hence the primary task is not so much to define the term as to interpret it.67 Sharon Euart expands the usage of the term ministry to include a “common ministry” which does not require ordination or designation, and includes such activities as love of neighbor, evangelization in one’s own way, and building up the Church according to one’s gifts.68 For the Cincinnati Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, ministry is “any action of Christian persons which reveals and furthers God’s presence in the world on behalf of the church and at the service of those in need.”69 Richard McBrien proposes a working definition of ministry based on four different levels, two being Christian in nature, and two having nothing intrinsically to do with religion.70

In Christifideles Laici, the Apostolic Exhortation promulgated after the Synod on the Laity in 1987, John Paul II observed that there was “a too-indiscriminate use of the word ministry,” and stressed the difference between the ministries derived from the sacrament of orders and those derived from the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, teaching that ministries of the lay faithful find their foundation in the sacraments of baptism and confirmation and they should be exercised in keeping with the laity’s secular character.71 In 1990, John Linnan described ministry as “the public and ecclesially recognized roles of those who in the name of Christ serve the community of believers, assisting them in their efforts to become church, the Body of Christ, so that it can continue the work of Christ in the world.”72 Like John Linnan, Michael Lawler borrowed key elements of O’Meara’s definition and viewed ministry as “action done in public, on behalf of the church, as a result of a charism of service, proclaimed, made explicit and celebrated in the church in sacrament, to incarnate in symbol the presence of Christ and of the God whose kingdom he reveals.”73

In a monumental book published in 1993, Kenan Osborne studies the lay ministry question in the Catholic Church over the two millennia of Christian history, highlighting the importance of a “common matrix for all Christians.”74 He proposes three concepts to express this matrix of gospel discipleship, a foundational and primordial basis that is rooted in baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist,75 and precedes any distinction of cleric/lay or cleric/religious/lay: the people of God, Christifidelis, and priesthood of all believers.76 For John Collins, there are two types of ministry: “ministry as lowly diakonia” where “by baptism all Christians are called into ministry, which is an ongoing gift of the Spirit,” and “ministry as high diakonia” which is a “responsibility laid upon certain individuals within the church who feel called and are called by the church to proclaim the gospel in word and sacrament.”77

In a report issued in 1995, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales understands ministry “as the service based on baptism and confirmation to which all are called. In this sense it overlaps with, and flows into, mission. It is the forms of life and activity through which the baptized express their discipleship in the various areas of their life; home and family; neighborhood and wider society; parish and diocese.”78 Across the Atlantic Ocean, the U.S. Catholic bishops issued two documents to explain the vocation, mission, and ministry of the laity as four calls—to holiness, to community, to mission and ministry, and to Christian adulthood/Christian maturity.79 It is of note that in the 1980 statement the U.S. bishops used the term “ecclesial ministers” to describe “lay persons who have prepared for professional ministry in the Church.” In the 1995 pastoral letter, they changed the term to “ecclesial lay ministers,” listing a broad range of their roles such as cantors, music directors, readers, Eucharistic ministers, altar servers, and activities such as teaching young people and adults, serving in peace and justice networks, in soup kitchens and shelters, in marriage preparation, in bereavement programs, and in ministry to the separated and divorced. The bishops affirmed that “all these actions, when performed in the name of Jesus and enacted under the aegis of the Church, are forms of ministry.”80 In 1997, eight Vatican dicasteries jointly issued an Instruction, approved in forma specifica by Pope John Paul II, examining the distinction between the ministry specific to priests and the ministries of lay people, and giving “directives to ensure the effective collaboration of the nonordained faithful…while safeguarding the integrity of the pastoral ministry of priests.”81

Instead of proposing a definition, Zeni Fox suggests five “namings” of ministries: “ministry as sacramental/liturgical, as stewardship of the tradition, as community building, as prophecy and as caring for society.”82 Reflecting on the diversity of ministries in a postmodern Church, Meyer-Wilmes argues that ministries “represent the church in society” and defined them as “public functions in and by which the church articulates its specific understanding of itself.”83 Opting for simplicity, Paul Avis contends that ministry “may be best understood as any work for the church that is recognized by the church.”84 In a similar vein, John Ford remarks that “the different uses of the term ‘ministry’ reflect the multiplicity of forms that ministry has taken in the twenty centuries of Christianity,” and “underlying the variety in usage of the term, the reality represents a fundamental aspect of Christian belief and life: ministry is service for others in imitation of Christ.”85

To conclude our survey of the representative descriptions of the terms “ministry” and “lay ministry,” which often overlap in significant ways, it is fitting to make a distinction between ministry and mission: “the latter pertains to the essence of the Church, the former is one of the Church’s activities, though indispensable for mission.”86 In this sense, ministry could be seen as “a mission within a mission.”87 Ministry also tends to be ad intra, an involvement in the Church and its growth while mission is primarily ad extra, an involvement in the world and its transformation.88


This paper has reviewed the question of the laity in history with an emphasis on theological developments after the Second Vatican Council. It examines in particular Leonard Doohan’s theological interpretations of lay experience, and the changing meaning of lay ministry. Two conclusions can be drawn from this historical survey. The first is the realization that there was a definitive change in perspective, initiated by Vatican II, whereby lay people are no longer considered to be passive objects of the ministrations of the clergy, but active agents who participate in their own right in the threefold mission of Christ and the Church. The second is the recognition of the existence of a multiplicity of lay ministries in the Church. This ever expanding phenomenon necessitates ongoing theological investigations, which in turn will help to clarify the meaning and scope of lay life and lay mission in the Church and in the world.



1. Avery Dulles remarks that “the status and role of the laity have been at the forefront of discussion in the Catholic Church since Vatican Council II”. Dulles, “Can the Word ‘Laity’ Be Defined?” Origins 18, no. 29 (29 December 1988): 470.

2. Peter Neuner argues that the concept of laity does not come directly from the term laos but from the adjective laikόs which means belonging to the people (“zum Volk gehörig”). See “Aspekte einer Theologie des Laien,” Una Sancta 43 (1988): 317.

3. Ernst Niermann, “Laity,” in Encyclopedia of Theology: The Concise Sacramentum Mundi, ed. Karl Rahner (London: Burns and Oates, 1975), 814-5; Leonard Doohan, “Theology of the Laity,” in The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. Michael Glazier and Monika K. Hellwig (Newtown, Australia: E. J. Dwyer, 1994), 493; idem, “Theology of the Laity,” in The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship, ed. Peter E. Fink (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 1990), 636.

4. Walter Kasper, “The Mission of the Laity,” Theology Digest 35, no. 2 (Summer 1998): 133; A. A. Hagstrom, “Theology of Laity,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., vol. 8 (Detroit: Gale Group in Association with the Catholic University of America, 2003), 290; see also Bernard Sesboüé, N’ayez pas peur: regards sur l’Eglise et les ministères aujourd’hui (Paris: Desclée de Brouwer, 1996), 119. Tertullian (circa 160-223), apologist and Father of Latin theology, went much further to state that “là où il y a trois fidèles, il y a une Église, même si ce sont des laïcs” (wherever three Christians gather, even if they are lay people, the Church is there”). Ibid.

5. See “The Letter of the Church of Rome to the Church of Corinth, Commonly Called Clement’s First Letter,” in Early Christian Fathers, trans. and ed. Cyril C. Richardson et al. (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1970), 62; Thomas Halton, The Church, Message of the Fathers of the Church, ed. Thomas Halton, no. 4 (Wilmington, Del.: Michael Glazier, 1985), 137; Alexandre Faivre, The Emergence of the Laity in the Early Church, trans. David Smith (New York: Paulist Press, 1990), 21. I. de la Potterie proved that λαικός was not a biblical term and it had a special meaning: “le ‘peuple’ inférieur, en tant que se distinguant de ses chefs” (“the inferior ‘people’ as distinct from their leaders”). See “L’origine et le sens primitif du mot ‘laïc’,” Nouvelle Revue Théologique 80 (1958): 840-1. For an excellent summary of this instructive paper, see Friedrich Wulf, “Über die Herkunft und ursprünglichen Sinn des Wortes ‘Laie’,” Geist und Leben 32 (1959): 61-3. For an enlightening account of the debate on the origin of the term laikos and the usage of the term laos, see Kenan B. Osborne, Ministry: Lay Ministry in the Roman Catholic Church: Its History and Theology (New York: Paulist Press, 1993), 18-25. Peter C. Phan observes that “clearly, for Clement, the laity (though he does not use the noun) form a distinct group of people in the church”. Phan, “The Laity in the Early Church: Building Blocks for a Theology of the Laity,” Triết Đạo: Journal of Vietnamese Philosophy & Religion 4, no. 2 (2002): 40. According to Paul Lakeland the word laikos “is not found anywhere in the Bible,” but “Laos … is frequently found in the Bible”. Lakeland, The Liberation of the Laity: In Search of an Accountable Church (New York: Continuum, 2002), 11. Yves Congar concludes that “there is no distinction between ‘lay people’ and ‘clerics’ in the vocabulary of the New Testament.” Congar, Lay People in the Church: A Study for a Theology of Laity, revised edition, with additions by the author, trans. Donald Attwater (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1965), 4.

6. These three developments gave the “laity the image of second-class citizens because of their involvement with the material world which was thought to make them profane, the equation of holiness with monasticism thus introducing a minimalist approach to lay spirituality, and the introduction of grading or ranking of Church membership that left the laity subordinated and powerless.” See Doohan, “Theology of the Laity,” ed. Fink, 636; “Lay People and the Church,” The Way (July 1992): 169. For Jon Nilson, “Monasticism greatly fostered the sense of a class structure in the Church. Monks were regarded as ‘super Christians,’ wholly devoted to Christ by their poverty and celibacy…. The role of the ordinary Christian was to support those who served them by contemplation and prayer, that is, to monks and those who presided over them, the ordained.” Nilson, “The Laity,” in The Gift of the Church: A Textbook on Ecclesiology in Honour of Patrick Granfield, ed. Peter C. Phan (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 2000), 397.

7. Doohan, “Theology of the Laity,” ed. Glazier-Hellwig, 493. Peter C. Phan notes that “by the middle of the third century, the difference between the laity and the clergy gradually becomes the inferiority of the former to the latter.” Phan, “The Laity in the Early Church,” 43; see also Alexandre Faivre, “Naissance d’un laïcat chrétien: les enjeux d’un mot,” Freiburger Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie 33 (1986): 428.

8. Doohan, “Theology of the Laity,” ed. Fink, 636; “Lay People and the Church,” 169. Faivre, on the contrary, argues that, except for Clement’s use of the term “lay” for the first time toward the end of the first century, “[t]he laity appeared for the first time in Christian history at the end of the second century or the beginning of the third.” For him, at that time they did not represent all Christian people but comprised only the “baptized believers of the male sex, the ‘husband of only one woman,’” and “it was not until the fourth century that the term ‘lay’ was also applied explicitly to women. From then on, the lay people represented all Christians who were not members of the clergy”. Faivre, The Emergence of the Laity in the Early Church, 209.

9. Doohan, “Theology of the Laity,” ed. Glazier-Hellwig, 493.

10. Dulles, “Can the Word ‘Laity’ Be Defined?” 470.

11. Doohan, “Theology of the Laity,” ed. Glazier-Hellwig, 493.

12. J. Gilchrist, “Laity in the Middle Ages,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., vol. 8 (Detroit: Gale Group in Association with the Catholic University of America, 2003), 293.

13. See “Decretum Gratiani, Concordia Discordantium Canonum, Decreti Pars Secunda, Causa XII, Quaestio I, C. VII,” extracted from Patrologia Latina Database, published by Chadwyck-Healey Inc., Disk 5 (2003).

14. Doohan, “Lay People and the Church,” 169. In his 1906 Encyclical Letter, “Vehementer,” Pope Pius X taught that “the Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of persons, the Pastors and the flock, those who occupy a rank in the different degrees of the hierarchy and the multitude of the faithful … ; the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors”. Cf. The Papal Encyclicals 1903-1939, ed. Claudia Carlen (Raleigh, N.C.: McGrath Publishing, 1981), 47-8. The 1917 Code of Canon Law held that “by divine institution clergy are distinct from laity in the Church.” Cited by Kenan Osborne in Ministry: Lay Ministry in the Roman Catholic Church, 41-2.

15. In the years immediately prior to Vatican II, several theologians such as Yves M. J. Congar endeavored to redefine the role of the laity. He associated the Christian usage of laikos with the Old Testament concept of laos, contending that the word ‘lay’ “properly meant the sacred people in opposition to the peoples who were not consecrated ....” See Lay People in the Church, 3. Congar also used the distinction between the structure and the life of the church to enhance the status of the laity, arguing that the clergy belongs to the structure of the Church, while the laity pertains to the life of the Church, which is more central. Ibid., 262.

16. Giovanni Magnani argues that “all the general indications given by the conciliar text as it stands when it makes statements concerning the laity, seem more or less to prepare the way for a status of identity between the ‘Christian’ and the ‘layperson’ rather than affirming any substantial differentiation.” Magnani, “Does the So-Called Theology of the Laity Possess a Theological Status?” in Vatican II Assessment and Perspectives: Twenty-Five Years after (1962-1987), vol. 1, ed. René Latourelle (New York: Paulist Press, 1988), 598.

17. Lumen Gentium, 32.

18. Lumen Gentium, 11; Apostolicam Actuositatem, 3.

19. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 2, 10.

20. Lumen Gentium, 33.

21. Lumen Gentium, 32-33.

22. Lumen Gentium, 10, 2-3.

23. Hervi Rikhof notes that the dignity of every baptized Christian has two aspects. The first is the Christian’s “new being in Christ—in other words, his re-creation or deification. The second is that certain functions, tasks, rights and duties are connected with that new existence”. Rikhof, “The Competence of Priests, Prophets and Kings: Ecclesiological Reflections about the Power and Authority of Christian Believers,” Concilium 197 (1988): 59.

24. Lumen Gentium, 33; Apostolicam Actuositatem, 3. The Council employed the Latin verb inserti (inserted or incorporated) to refer to the laity’s incorporation to the Mystical Body of Christ, and configurantur (configured) to describe the priest’s configuration to Christ the priest. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 3, in Sacrosanctum Oecumenicum Concilium Vaticanum II, Constitutiones Decreta Declarationes, Cura et Studio Secretariae Generalis Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II (Roma: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1966), 463, 622-3.

25. Lumen Gentium, 3, 31, 33, 35; Apostolicam Actuositatem, 6, 7; Gaudium et Spes, 21, in Vatican Council II: Constitutions, Decrees, Declarations, vol. 1, ed. Austin Flannery, new rev. ed. (Northport, N.Y.: Costello Publishing, 1996).

26. Lumen Gentium, 31, 33; Apostolicam Actuositatem, 10; Gaudium et Spes, 92; Sacrosanctum Concilium, 11, in Vatican Council II.

27. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 11; Lumen Gentium, 35; Gaudium et Spes, 52.

28. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 13-14; Gaudium et Spes, 26, 53, 60, 75; Ad Gentes, 12, in Vatican Council II.

29. Lumen Gentium, 31.

30. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 24-25. Angel Anton contends that Vatican II, while emphasizing the baptismal equality of all Christians, did not reconcile “this principle of fundamental equality … between pastors and ordinary believers, to make any inferences about the participation of the laity with full rights, that is to say, with a deliberative and not merely a consultative note, in decision making of various directive organs instituted since the Council at the local and universal levels of the Church.” Anton, “Postconciliar Ecclesiology: Expectations, Results and Prospects for the Future,” in Vatican II Assessment and Perspectives: Twenty-Five Years After (1962-1987), vol. 1, ed. René Latourelle (New York: Paulist Press, 1988), 428-9.

31. Lumen Gentium, 10.

32. Frederick J. Parrella, “The Laity in the Church,” Catholic Theological Society of America Proceedings 35 (1980): 273. For Parrella, the description of Lumen Gentium, 31 has three essential elements: “(1) in a negative sense, the laity is ‘understood to mean all the faithful except those in Holy Orders and those in a religious state sanctioned by the Church’…. (2) In a positive sense, the laity are the ‘faithful’ who are ‘by baptism made one body with Christ and are established among the People of God. They are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetic and kingly functions of Christ.’ (3) In a positive light again, what distinguishes the laity from others is ‘a secular quality’.” Ibid. In his view, “each of these essential elements presents a problem. The first element…defines the laity by what they are not, not what they are. The second element…positively defines the laity but only in a generic sense; what defines the laity also defines the clergy and religious since all are baptized, one with Christ and established as the people of God. The third element, the secular quality of the laity which distinguishes them from the clergy and religious, fails to offer a positive definition but merely specifies a function.” Ibid. For G. Chantraine, this typological definition has two aspects: the dignity of lay people is determined by the sacrament of baptism, and their place in the Church is made with reference to the ordained and the religious. Chantraine, “Le laïc à l’intérieur des missions divines,” Nouvelle Revue Théologique 109 (1987): 362.

33. The Code of Canon Law: New Revised English Translation, prepared by the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland in association with the Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand and the Canadian Canon Law Society (London: HarperCollins, 1997). Hereafter, The 1983 Code of Canon Law; the relevant canons are abbreviated to c. and cc.

34. In the Bull of Promulgation, Pope John Paul II states that the new Code “can be viewed as a great effort to translate the conciliar ecclesiological teaching into canonical terms.” See “Apostolic Constitution,” in The 1983 Code of Canon Law, xiv. Thomas J. Green notes that “John Paul II emphasized the following key ecclesiological themes as underlying the code: the Church as the people of God; hierarchical authority as service; the Church as communion with its wide-ranging implications for universal Church-particular Church relationships and primacy-episcopacy relationship; the participation of all the faithful in the threefold functions (munera) of Christ with its profound implications for their fundamental rights and duties; and, finally, the importance of the Church’s ecumenical commitment”. Green, “The Church and the Law,” in The Gift of the Church, 374-5.

35. Canon 207 says: “By divine institution, among Christ’s faithful there are in the Church sacred ministers, who in law are also called clerics; the others are called lay people.” The 1983 Code of Canon Law, 44.

36. The 1983 Code of Canon Law, c. 207.

37. Lumen Gentium, 31.

38. Elissa Rinere, “Conciliar and Canonical Applications of ‘Ministry’ to the Laity,” The Jurist 47 (1987): 205. This paper provides a summary of her doctoral research on the subject, “The Term ‘Ministry’ as Applied to the Laity in the Documents of Vatican II, Post Conciliar Documents of the Apostolic See, and the 1983 Code of Canon Law,” Canon Law Studies 519 (Washington: The Catholic University of America, 1986).

39. Elissa Rinere, “Conciliar and Canonical Applications of ‘Ministry’ to the Laity,” 205-16. Jon Nilson observes that “Vatican II did not foresee all the lay roles and ministries that would emerge since the council.” Nilson, “The Laity,” 407.

40. Analyzing Lumen Gentium, 33 and 35, Louis Ligier argues that lay people “can in certain circumstances ‘stand in’ for ministers of the Church in order to perform cultic and sacramental functions in their place.” Ligier, “‘Lay Ministries’ and Their Foundations in the Documents of Vatican II,” in Vatican II Assessment and Perspectives: Twenty-Five Years after (1962-1987), 164.

41. Giving an address to the new cardinals on 20 February 1946, Pius XII declared that “…the faithful, and precisely the Lay, are in the front line of the Church; for them the Church is the vital principle of human society. That is why they, especially they, must be constantly more and more clearly aware not only of being part of the Church but of being the Church, that is to say, the community of the faithful….They are the Church.” See “Acta PII PP. XII: Allocutiones I,” Acta Apostolicae Sedis 38:5 (1 April 1946), 149.

42. Vatican II adopted the traditional tria munera (triple office) schema that Yves M. J. Congar had used as a framework for his classic work Jalons pour une théologie du laïcat [Milestones for a Theology of the Laity] (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1953). An English version of the book appeared as Lay People in the Church; see n. 5 above. Earlier, Congar translated a paper by J. Fuchs who wrote a dissertation in 1941 arguing that the triple office schema has a Protestant origin. See “Origines d’une triologie ecclésiologique à l’époque rationaliste de la théologie,” Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 53 (1969): 185-211. Congar would continue to employ the tria munera schema to describe the functions of the laity. See “Sur la Trilogie: Prophète-Roi-Prêtre,” Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologique 67 (1983): 97-115. In another article, “Prêtre, Roi, Prophète,” he observes that the Second Vatican Council applied the trilogy to Christ, the laity and ordained ministers: for the ordained the Council followed the order “docteur, prêtre, pasteur/roi,” (teacher, priest, shepherd/king) and used “prêtre, prophète, roi” (priest, prophet, king) when referring to lay people. See Seminarium 23 (1983): 71. Of the several postconciliar papers which illustrate the development of Congar’s thought, the most important text dealing with the role of the laity is a 1971 paper, which appeared a year later in English. See Yves Congar, “Mon cheminement dans la théologie du laïcat et des ministères,” in Ministères et communion ecclésiale (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1971), 9-30; idem, “My Path-Findings in the Theology of Laity and Ministries,” The Jurist 32 (1972): 184. This 1971 paper is vintage Congar, who, at the age of 67, engaged in a retractatio revisiting several theses of his earlier book. See “Quelques problèmes touchant les ministères,” Nouvelle Revue Théologique 93 (1971): 792, n. 13.

43. Doohan, “Theology of the Laity,” ed. Glazier-Hellwig, 494.

44. Doohan, “Theology of the Laity,” ed. Fink, 639.

45. Doohan, “Theology of the Laity,” ed. Fink, 639-40; idem, Laity’s Mission in the Local Church: Setting a New Direction (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986), 4-5; idem, The Lay-Centered Church: Theology and Spirituality (Minneapolis, Minn.: Winston Press, 1984), 4-23; idem, “Contemporary Theologies of the Laity: An Overview since Vatican II,” Communio 7 (1980): 228-41.

46. Doohan, Laity’s Mission in the Local Church, 5.

47. Ibid., 5-6.

48. John A. Collins observes that “over the past fifty years the word ‘ministry’ has ceased to mean what it used to mean in ecclesiology. Always once referring to the ordained leadership and pastoral practice of a church, the term was actually only lightly used within Roman Catholic circles, and there more often than not had a reference to ministry in Protestant practice …. Within a few years of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council such ingrained usage quickly underwent a full circle of change …. The words ‘mission,’ ‘apostolate’ and ‘ministry’ itself applied indiscriminately to hierarchical and lay participation in the pastoral life of the Church.” Collins, “Fitting Lay Ministries into a Theology of Ministry: Responding to an American Consensus,” Worship 79, no. 2 (March 2005): 156. For instance, ministerial words in Gaudium et Spes, 38 apply only to the laity while in Lumen Gentium, 24 they refer to the office of bishops. Ibid., 156-7.

49. H. Richard McCord, “Lay Ministry: Living Its Questions,” Origins 19, No. 46 (19 April 1990): 757. Neil Ormerod observes that Sacramentum Mundi (1968-70) “has no entry on ministry at all,” and the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967-79) “has a telling heading, ‘Ministry, Protestant’.” Ormerod, “Mission and Ministry in the Wake of Vatican II,” Australian EJournal of Theology 1 (August 2003): 2.

50. James A. Coriden, “Ministry,” Chicago Studies (Fall 1976): 305.

51. “The Chicago Declaration of Christian Concern,” in Challenge to the Laity, ed. Ed Marciniak et al. (Huntington, Ind.: Our Sunday Visitor, 1980), 20-3.

52. Ibid.

53. Second General Conference of Latin American Bishops, “The Church in the Present-Day Transformation of Latin America in the Light of the Council” (Medellin, Colombia, August 26-September 6, 1968), in Liberation Theology: A Documentary History, edited with introductions, commentary and translations by Alfred T. Hennelly (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1990), 99. In Peru, nine-teen Church organizations jointly offered suggestions to the Peruvian bishops attending the Medellín Conference, emphasizing that lay people “cannot evade their commitment to social change,” and must “participate in the church’s work of evangelization, sanctification, and service.” See Peruvian Organizations, “The Role of the Laity, (June 1-2, 1968),” ibid., 84-88.

54. [Latin American Bishops], Third General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, “Evangelization in Latin America’s Present and Future” (Pueblo de los Angeles, Mexico, January 27-February 13, 1979), in Liberation Theology: A Documentary History, 225-58. Paulo Freire defines conscientization—conscientização in Portuguese—as a “probing of the ambience, of reality,” or a “commitment in time” because it goes deeper than the French expression prise de conscience and “implies a historical commitment.” See his 1970 paper, “Conscientizing as a Way of Liberating;” ibid., 6-7.

55. World Council of Churches, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, Faith and Order, Paper No. 111 (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1982), 24.

56. Joseph A. Komonchak, “Church and Ministry,” The Jurist 43, no. 2 (1983): 283-4.

57. George H. Tavard, A Theology of Ministry (Wilmington, Del.: Michael Glazier, 1983), 128.

58. Thomas Franklin O’Meara, Theology of Ministry (New York: Paulist Press, 1983), 142.

59. Ibid. 136. O’Meara also surveys the change in the meaning of “ministry” in six historical periods of the Church, and argues that each of these periods still has some bearing on the theory and praxis of ministry today. Ibid., 95-133, esp. 97-8. The first period is a “move from communal diversity and universality to a small number of ministries with prominence given to the service of leadership (episcopalization) and a further alteration of fulltime ministry to a sacral statement (sacerdotalization).” The second period of “monasticization” involves “the reforming and ministerial expansion of the monastery.” The “dominance of one structure in the order of offices (hierarchization)” represents the third period. The “pastorization of ministry” wrought by the Reformation represents the fourth, followed by “the Counter-Reformation’s organization of ministry along the lines of Baroque papacy and spirituality” where the Pope emerged as the source of all ministries. Finally, the “romanticization of the ministry” in the nineteenth century.” Ibid., 97-8. Paul Bernier expands O’Meara’s schema into thirteen periods or movements by breaking down O’Meara’s periods into shorter time frames and adding two periods to cover the post-Vatican years. See Ministry in the Church: A Historical and Pastoral Approach (Mystic, Conn.: Twenty-Third Publications, 1992), 11-278

60. See The 1983 Code of Canon Law, cc. 230, 759, 910, 943, 1481, 1502, and 1634; Elissa Rinere, “Conciliar and Canonical Applications of ‘Ministry’ to the Laity,” 216-20. The Codex makes use of the “priest-prophet-king” schema in its structure and content, separating codification concerning munus regendi (not mentioned by name in the title of Book II) from that concerning munus docendi (Book III) and munus sanctificandi (Book IV).” See The 1983 Code of Canon Law, cc. 204-1253.

61. Elissa Rinere, “Conciliar and Canonical Applications of ‘Ministry’ to the Laity,” 216-19. For John Alesandro, “there is still ambivalence in the code: Are laity true lay ministers or are they only supplementary ministers?” See “The Code of Canon Law: Past, Present and Future,” Origins 37, no. 23 (15 November 2007): 362. Rik Torfs notes that “munus does not refer to a specific office but to major tasks which operate also through offices.” See “Auctoritas – potestas – jurisdictio – facultas – officium – munus: A Conceptual Analysis,” Concilium 197 (April 1988): 69. According to Torfs, the term munus occurs less than two hundred times in the 1983 Code, and “in many of these instances it appears in the application (task).” Ibid., 70. On the other hand, the term officium is used some 260 times in the 1983 Code, and mainly refers to an “ecclesiastical office.” Ibid., 68-9.

62. The 1983 Code of Canon Law, cc. 225-226.

63. The 1983 Code of Canon Law, cc. 145, 229, 230, 339, 443, 493-4, 451, 483, 494, 451, 536-7, 617, 620-1,627, 636, 651, 1168, 1424, 1428, 1435.

64. The 1983 Code of Canon Law, cc. 129, 228, 274, 764, 766, 785, 812, 1111-2, 1421. According to the Codex, the people of God is made up of the baptized faithful, who are called, “each according to his or her particular condition, to exercise the mission which God entrusted to the Church to fulfill in the world.” Ibid., c. 204.

65. Edward Schillebeeckx, The Church with a Human Face: A New and Expanded Theology of Ministry (London: SCM Press, 1985), 3-4, 266; idem, Ministry: Leadership in the Community of Jesus Christ (New York: Crossroad, 1981); also published as Ministry: A Case for Change (London: SCM Press, 1981).

66. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, “Ministry: In Service of One Another,” Origins 15, no. 9 (1 August 1985): 136. For Bernadin, ministry is “ultimately directed toward establishing a life in communion with God and with one another, a way of life which manifests the kingdom of God in our midst.” Ibid., 135. In his view, ministries and ministers could be differentiated in five ways: by different forms of ecclesial recognition and designation; according to the amount of time they devote to their ministry; through the specification of their activities; depending on the background and skills required to undertake the ministries; and according to the setting in which the service is provided. Ibid., 137. It is noteworthy that, for Greek Orthodox theologian John D. Zizioulas, “it is the ministry that more than anything else renders the Church a relational reality, i.e., a mystery of love, reflecting here and now the very life of the Trinitarian God,” which is constantly revealed by way of a double movement: (i) as a baptismal movement which renders the Church a community existentially “dead to the world” and hence separated from it, and (ii) as a eucharistic movement which relates to the world by “referring” it to God as anaphora and by bringing to it the blessings of God’s life and the taste of the Kingdom to come. It is this double movement of the Church’s relational nature that makes the ministry realize its relational character as a movement of the Church both ad intra and ad extra. See Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church (New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2002), 220-1.

67. Robert L. Kinast, Caring for Society: A Theological Interpretation of Lay Ministry (Chicago: The Thomas More Press, 1985), 61. For Kinast, the experiential meaning of lay ministry encompasses several overlapping and interconnecting feelings ranging from importance to authenticity, from equality to complementarity, from ownership to stewardship. Ibid., 65.

68. Sharon A. Euart, “Council, Code and Laity,” The Jurist 47, no. 2 (1987): 496.

69. Cincinnati Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, “An Expanded View of Ministry,” Origins 16, no. 31 (15 January 1987): 553, 555.

70. These levels of ministry are: (i) General/universal ministry as any service rendered to others, rooted in our humanity, having nothing intrinsically to do with religion; (ii) General/specific ministry as a special service rendered to others, rooted in competence, performed by people who are certified or validated; (iii) Christian/universal ministry as any service rendered to others in Christ and because of Christ, rooted in baptism and confirmation; in this sense every Christian is called to ministry; (iv) Christian/specific ministry as a service rendered in the name of the Church and for the sake of its mission, based on some action of designation by the Church, performed by a small number of Church members. See Richard P. McBrien, Ministry: A Theological, Pastoral Handbook (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1988), 11-4.

71. John Paul II, “Christifideles Laici: Apostolic Exhortation on the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World,” Origins 18, no. 35 (9 February 1989): 23.

72. John E. Linnan, “Ministry since Vatican II: A Time of Change and Growth,” New Theology Review 3 (1990): 44.

73. Michael G. Lawler, A Theology of Ministry (Kansas City, Mo.: Sheed & Ward, 1990), 28; see also Michael G. Lawler and Thomas J. Shanahan, Church: A Spirited Communion (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 1995), 64.

74. Kenan B. Osborne, Ministry: Lay Ministry in the Roman Catholic Church, 530-1.

75. Ibid., 597.

76. Ibid., 540-1.

77. John N. Collins, “A Ministry for Tomorrow’s Church,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 32, no. 2 (Spring 1995): 169.

78. Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, The Sign We Give (Essex, England: Matthew James, 1995), 18.

79. National Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Called and Gifted: The American Catholic Laity, 1980, Reflections of the U.S. Bishops,” Origins (27 November 1980): 369, 371-3; Called and Gifted for the Third Millennium (Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 1995), available at (accessed 7 July 2003).

80. Ibid., 10. Avery Dulles notes that the U.S. Bishops’ 1995 document makes a clear distinction between “the two areas of lay activity: their witness and service in secular society and their service to the church, calling only the latter ecclesial lay ministry.” Dulles, “Can Laity Properly Be Called ‘Ministers’?” Origins 35, no. 44 (20 April 2006): 729. In 1999 the U.S. Bishops’ Subcommittee on Lay Ministry issued another report under the title of Lay Ecclesial Ministry: The State of the Questions: A Report of the Subcommittee on Lay Ministry (Washington, D.C.: Committee on the Laity, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1999), this time focusing on lay ecclesial ministry as the new phenomenon of the Church. In 2005 the U.S. bishops revisited the theme, and emphasized the basis of lay ecclesial ministry on both the individual call to ministry and the collective participation in the mission of the Church. See “Co-workers in the Vineyard of the Lord,” Origins 35, no. 25 (1 December 2005): 405-27. This document provides further clarification: “The ministry is lay because it is service done by laypersons. The sacramental basis is the sacrament of initiation, not the sacrament of ordination. The ministry is ecclesial because it has a place within the community of the church, whose communion and mission it serves, and because it is submitted to the discernment, authorization and supervision of the hierarchy. Finally, it is ministry because it is a participation in the threefold ministry of Christ, who is priest, prophet and king.” Ibid., 408.

81. Eight Vatican Offices, “Instruction: On Certain Questions Regard-ing Collaboration of Nonordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priests,” Origins 27 (17 November 1997): 397, 399-411. In a commentary on this document, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger states its purpose as “to avoid, on the one hand, an undervaluing of the ordained ministry and a falling into a ‘Protestantization’ of the concepts of ministry and even of the Church herself, and, on the other, the risk of a ‘clericalization’ of the laity.” Ratzinger, “Unity of the Church’s Mission Involves Diversity of Ministries,” L’Osservatore Romano 17 (29 April 1998): 18. Ratzinger warns against “a ‘functionalistic’ conception of the ministry, which sees the ministry of ‘pastor’ as a function and not as an ontological sacramental reality.” Ibid. Edward Hahnenberg observes that “while at points the document helpfully distinguishes different ministerial tasks, its vision of the priest’s sacred ministry is so encompassing that it is hard to imagine any lay activity within the church as anything but a participation in something that properly belongs to the ordained.” Hahnenberg, “Bishop: Source or Center of Ministerial Life?” Origins 37, no. 7 (28 June 2007): 106.

82. Zeni Fox, New Ecclesial Ministry: Lay Professionals Serving the Church (Kansas City, Mo.: Sheed & Ward, 1997), 225-7.

83. Hedwig Meyer-Wilmes, “The Diversity of Ministries in a Postmodern Church,” Concilium 3 (1999): 70.

84. Paul Avis, “Ministry,” in The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought, ed. Adrian Hastings et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 437.

85. John Ford, “Ministries in the Church,” in The Gift of the Church, 294.

86. Christopher O’Donnell, “Ecclesia:” A Theological Encyclopedia of the Church (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 1996), 305. Gerard Hall also makes a helpful distinction: “the mission of evangelizing belongs to the whole Church and is the responsibility of all Christians. Ministries, on the other hand, belong to individuals in particular churches. Yet they also exist for, and are expressions of, the Church’s universal mission…. The relationship between the universal Church and the local churches resembles the relationship between mission and ministry: one cannot exist without the other”. Hall, “Christian Mission Today,” Compass 41, no. 3 (Spring 2007): 5.

87. James H. Provost, “Ministry: Reflections on Some Canonical Issues,” The Heythrop Journal 29 (1988): 291. Ormerod argues that “far from ministry being the central task of the Church, it is mission which defines its purpose.” Ormerod, “Mission and Ministry in the Wake of Vatican II,” available at . au/research/theology/ejournal/aejt_1 (accessed 16 March 2004).

88. John E. Linnan, “Ministry since Vatican II,” 34; Christopher O’Donnell, “Ecclesia:” A Theological Encyclopedia of the Church (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 1996), 303.

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