Towards a "Lay Hermeneutic" in Ecclesiology1

Resources »Eapr »East Asian Pastoral Review 2010 »Volume 47 2010 Number 3 »Towards A Lay Hermeneutic In Ecclesiology

Levy Lara Lanaria

Levy Lara LANARIA, a former Salesian, now married with three kids, is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, at the University of San Carlos, Cebu City, Philippines.  He completed his MA studies at the University of San Carlos, Cebu City in 1993 and obtained his PhD degree in Applied Theology from De La Salle University, Manila in 2008.  His last published article was “Lawas:  An Anthropo-Theological Discourse on the Body in a Cebuano Visayan Language Context,”Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society 37 (March 2009):  55-82.



humbing through the pages of ecclesiological development in history, one will find an impressive array of images and models which, in one way or another and at different times, theologians all over the world have thematized and reflected upon. Some of these are People of God, Body of Christ, Temple of the Holy Spirit, Community of Disciples, The Reestablished Israel, Ekklēsia-Body of Christ-Temple of God, Institution, Mystical Communion, Herald, Servant, Basic Ecclesial Communities, Contrast Society, City of God, Mater et Magistra, Sacrament of Salvation, and many more.1

The emergence of ecclesiological models in theological history begs an important question: how have these models fared among the vast majority in the Church? A couple of respected theologians give us a sense of how intelligible and accepted these models have been by the ordinary laity. Joseph Komonchak, in a position paper he was asked to present in the first annual colloquium of the FABC Theological Advisory Committee in 1986, recognized the great gains to recover certain "neglected dimensions" of the Church brought to light by viewing the Church as People of God, the Body of Christ, the Temple of the Spirit, etc.2 However, despite the gains he observed that

many people have experienced difficulty in communicating these descriptions to the ordinary people who constitute the Church. The language is often foreign to their experience, because it is either biblical or abstractly theological (e.g., "sacrament," a familiar term which becomes less and less familiar as efforts are made to explain its meaning and its implications).3

The impression of Leonard Doohan, a lay theologian, dovetails with that of Komonchak. In his assessment of the Church models, particularly those found in Dulles’ Models of the Church, he recognizes the theological power of some of the models. However, Doohan observes as well that they are "pastorally impossible to deal with"4 while the other models "have only limited use because their very mention gives rise to polemics."5 According to him the common problem is that "they are easily understandable only to the theologian or cleric."6

Many portraits of the Church are presented in clerical and theological jargon and are very difficult to understand. Most conciliar and post-conciliar models of the Church use exclusively theological and clerical concepts. Most laity today still understands the Church as primarily a hierarchical and clerical organization. And when they are challenged to live as Church, they encounter the difficulty of integrating a lay life into a clerical understanding of Church.7

Hence, it is not surprising that "no one model has become widely accepted" for the last two decades.8

Ongoing Challenge to the Philippine Local Church

Critically enlightened laity in the Philippines, particularly those engaged in theological/religious education, can well relate themselves to the views of both Western theologians. For one thing theological discourse in the country by and large remains heavily conditioned by a clerical (male-celibate) perspective that has been moving in the direction of the restorationist course for the past three decades. This has wittingly or unwittingly slowed down the process of fashioning a truly inculturated, praxis-oriented, and gender-sensitive theology that is born of the laity’s concrete socio-linguistic world, and responsive to their peculiar needs, issues, and concerns. (Here I must recognize, without mentioning their names, the continuing contribution of some Catholic academic institutions in the country in advancing the kind of theological education/formation that is intentionally contextual and lay-friendly. These institutions have priest-theo-logians/educators, swimming against the restorationist current, who involve themselves consciously in the project of contextualization).

Contextual theological education is directed towards transforming the laity into subjects of evangelization/liberation and sensing Filipino Catholics who will creatively develop a kind of spirituality and prayer life that is home-based/friendly, actively engage in apostolic works/ministries without much prodding from priests or bishops, and make well-discerned ethical decisions without having to ask for theimprimatur of "Padre."9 A strictly clericalist understanding of teaching authority in the Church does not offer much room for lay creativity in the theological enterprise and has a stifling effect on the integral faith development and liberation of the laity.

Concomitant to the ‘cleric-centric’ theology is the belief that, in the interpretation and re-interpretation of the church’s traditional teachings, academically qualified laity that include women who can help tap the local church’s sensus fidelium in the development and articulation of her doctrines, remain excluded on the official deliberative level.10 Clerical hegemony in theological education/formation, although concededly not of the same degree as pre-Vatican II, can be linked to the hierarchy’s traditional claim over "sacred traditions," that is, their exclusive right to teach, preach, or govern11—a claim that virtually reduces the understanding of Vatican II affirmative statements on the role of the laity in the Church to orthodox (read: magisterial) reading of the texts to the exclusion of possible heterodox interpretations that are rooted in the social location of the laity.

Another aspect worth pondering on is the question of how heavily theology in the Philippines is influenced by Western approach and perspective. It cannot be denied, on the one hand, that the local church in the Philippines has learned a lot from Western theological tradition. On the other hand, the preponderance of theological works coming from the West points to the relative want of a truly homegrown theology taught in Catholic schools. The fact is that to this post-Vatican day theological schools or Catholic schools that offer theology or religious education courses primarily rely directly or indirectly on the works of eminent Western theologians like Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Rahner, von Balthasar, Congar, Küng, Schillebeeckx and others, names that are synonymous with great theological traditions. These are great thinkers, visionaries, and reformers in their own right, whose writings have immensely benefited the Philippine church. However, the over-dependence on the theological insights of Westerners has reduced the teaching of theology/religious education to applying or translating Western theological ideas and insights into the Philippine context. Yet, those involved in formal theological exercise know that "doing theology cannot mean the simple transfer of theological ideas and systems from elsewhere into Asia."12

On the more practical side, for many Catholics living out one’s Christian and ecclesial identity remains chained to the practice of going to church (building) for ritual obligations to experience the Sacred. This is a type of dualism that separates the spiritual ("church") from the secular ("home"). Or at the very least it can be claimed that God can be experienced anywhere, whether in the "church" or in the "home," yet the thinking also presumes that God is better or more fully experienced in the "church." Iba talaga kung nasa loob ng simbahan tayo at may pari (It makes a lot of difference to be in a church and with a priest present) expresses in a sense a dualist and clergy-centered tendency. Or if there is a semblance of church-ness in the household, Christian families, in the observation of a Christian writer, are reduced to either simply submitting to an official Church doctrine or importing "church" rituals or prayers into their homes hoping this will transmit religious meaning to their shared life.13

To be sure communal worship plays a significant role in the collective expression of the faith of a Christian community led by a designated minister. Common liturgical action is an indispensable dimension of the living tradition of the Church. To call a Christian community as such is preposterous if the faith of the believers is devoid of a deeply communitarian character. The problem is that very often the more personalized and familial character in the home is not deeply felt in a formalized large setting where the members of the worshipping community remain anonymous to one another. This is an indication of another kind of dualism that separates the ordinary family experience of intimacy and warmth from the formal and cold atmosphere in church worship.

Ironically, in the cultural experiences of the family one can already find human elements that resonate with the corporate character of the ecclesial reality. For example, family meals or salu-salo are ordinary occasions for the group expression of sharing. When the members of the family consciously celebrate the meals in the spirit of the eucharist, what they celebrate "out there" becomes "in here," as a virtually ecclesial act. The latently ecclesial elements that are nonetheless present in the collective experiences of the family await formal recognition in the Church.

Wanted: A Lay-Centered Family Model

Clearly a more cognitively vital and affectively powerful model is needed since the way we think of and feel about the Church determines and sustains the members’ commitment and involvement as Church. We need a "model that is understandable to laity; that has a lay dynamic in it; that calls for spirituality relevant to lay life; that portrays sufficiently the life and mission of laity; that integrates the role of laity into the whole life of the Church."14 It is a fact that the lay have always comprised the overwhelming majority since the clergy-laity distinction/split in the third-fourth century C.E. onwards. Hopefully the desired model will bring about a deeper appreciation of the nature of the Church because it is easily intelligible to the overwhelming majority.

Doohan proposes to understand the Church as family. In the survey of biblical images that Vatican II presents in Lumen Gentium, Aloys Grillmeier considers the image "family of God" along with the image "bride of Christ" as "the most expressive" as it derives "from the highest forms of human fellowship and society."15 The familial model will have a symbolic character potent enough to evoke attitudes and courses of action, while possessing clarity towards a deeper reflective and critical understanding of the Church. It is something that is "not abstract . . . but rather challenges all laity to appreciate that their everyday experience, knowledge, and skills qualify them to be the family of the Church."16 Furthermore, it will represent a relevant response to today’s problems.17

The Total Ecclesiology Framework as Starting Point

Doohan premises his suggestion on his understanding of the Vatican II teaching on the laity. Drawing our attention to the very foundation of lay ecclesial identity as articulated by the Council, he brings us to a powerful and refreshing insight:

Lay persons do not belong to the Church, nor do they have a role in the Church. Rather, through baptism they are the Church, and, in union with Christ, their mission is the mission of the Church itself. There is no particular vocation for laity in the Church, no need of a quest for lay identity. Being Church in its fullness is the spirituality for laity.18

He agrees with one of Yves Congar’s theological insights into the laity that ultimately there can only be one sound and sufficient theology of the laity, and that is a "total ecclesiology" or "integrally church."19 This ecclesiology puts stress on the fundamental elements like priesthood, ministry, mission, and witnessing equally shared by all members of the Church. The Church is not defined by only one group; it is everyone building it up by proclamation, worship, and witnessing.20 The Church is both communal/fellowship and structure/institution.

Congar’s "total ecclesiology" is not without its share of critics. Paul Lakeland, who does acknowledge the great achievement of the late French theologian particularly in the field of ecclesiology referring to it as ‘radical’ given the pre-Vatican theological climate of Congar’s time,21 raises three important questions—he calls them "stress points"—spawned by the theologian’s thought. The stress points pertain to Congar’s views on the apostolicity and the origins of the Church, the lay role in teaching theology, and lay ministry and action.22 His thinking on these ecclesial aspects, despite his honest and firm espousal of lay-clergy equality in the Church in terms of dignity and responsibility, seems to suggest still a subordinate role of the laity. In his later essays though (following Vatican II) Congar would re-think, according to Lakeland, the laity-clergy relationship by decisively adverting to the People of God image as the starting point of understanding ecclesial ministries. The clerical priesthood, albeit distinct from the common priesthood, draws its full significance within the common ministry of all the faithful.23

Congar’s total ecclesiology framework harks back to the New Testament notion of the designation laity. Church studies have shown conclusively that the separation and distinction between the clergy and the laity as we have it today did not exist in the first two to three centuries of Christianity’s existence. There is even no question of lay as opposed to the clergy in the New Testament. It is difficult to find a trace of any reality that "could be transformed and put in parallel with our contemporary phenomenon of the laity. 24 Even the Greek wordkleros for clergy and its cognates as they are used in the New Testament refer to "all Christians as chosen inheritors of God’s promises"25and not specifically to ordained ministers. The post-Easter Jesus Movement evolved not with a clerical but with a lay character (Jesus himself was a lay person, not a priest!).26

The designation People of God underpins the terms lay and laity.27 A paramount implication is that within God’s people no special priestly caste exists different or distinct in essence28 from the majority. The terms are derived from the Greek laos of the Septuagint referring popularly to people in the sense of nation. Its specific meaning is a reference to Israel who is ho laos autou (his people), i.e., Theou(God’s).29 The exclusive relationship becomes sharpened in Jesus of Nazareth who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people. Later laos is applied figuratively to the Christian community. To belong to this laos one has to have faith in Jesus Christ. However, to say that Jesus’ followers all belonged to one people does not mean that no ministries or leadership structures existed. There were but they operated within the laos,30 and always in view of service to the community.

The single important thing was to belong to the laos (1 Cor 12:12-31 and parallels). Decades later, with the Movement solidifying into a Church, the Matthew Gospel (20:25-26) and its parallel text in Luke (22:25-27) will still say: "You know that among the pagans rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you." Famous last words!31

However, beginning roughly in the middle of the second century C.E. there appeared signs pointing to the division of the Church into clergy and laity. By the third century the separation became a fait accompli32 with the kleros designating a separate class of leaders in the Christian community.33 The ascendancy of the Greek philosophical tradition with its spiritualistic dualism steering Church theology and practice led to further widening of the split in the following centuries. This was accompanied by the uncontested supremacy of the clergy over the laity for a variety of socio-cultural and political reasons.34 The hardening of the clergy-laity cleavage was legitimized and sustained by a theological superstructure made by the clergy themselves.35 The superstructure institutionally reared its ugly head in "clericalism"—a term used by Bishop de Smedt during the Second Vatican Council—which heavily conditioned the theological mind-set and praxis of the Church for more than a thousand years until the reform-minded Fathers in Vatican II appeared on the scene and vigorously challenged it.

As pointed out early on, the Council re-rooted the Church in its biblical origin, and in effect de-stressed clerical control and retrieved what was due to the laity as Church. The texts on the laity are directly discussed in one chapter of Lumen Gentium. An entire document,Apostolicam Actuositatem, is devoted to their ecclesial role. Gaudium et Spes36 also speaks about the importance of their roles in the Church. For the purpose of the study, it will focus on Lumen Gentium since the document contains foundational statements on the Church and the laity in particular. The last two documents merely make more explicit and expound the implications of the foundational texts vis-à-vis apostolic ministry and the modern world.

The main outlines of the so-called "total ecclesiology" can be drawn from the teachings of Lumen Gentium. The document recovers the biblical roots of the Church and casts the latter in fundamental terms as the People of God (LG, 10). This ‘new people’ believes in one Lord, worships with one faith, and springs from one baptism. In the new People of God there is common dignity and consequently equality among the members. The common dignity derives from the members’

rebirth in Christ, a common grace as sons, a common vocation to perfection, one salvation, one hope and undivided charity. In Christ and in the Church there is, then, no inequality arising from race or nationality, social condition or sex . . . 37 (LG, 33).

Attached to the principle of basic equality in the Church is the responsibility of all the members to offer their entire lives to the Lord in prayer and praise for they are a "kingdom of priests" consecrated to God while sharing in the priesthood of Christ (LG, 10). Endowed with the same Spirit they are all called to holiness (LG, 11, 40, 41),38 while their spiritual rebirth entails witnessing to Christ.39 Being witnesses is a participation in the prophetic office of Christ. This is illustrated in at least two instances. The first has something to do with belief. This is exemplified in the so-called sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful)40 which belongs to the whole people of God manifesting a universal consent in matters of faith and morals. Another instance which "has a special importance in this prophetic office" (LG, 35) is the married and family life, "an outstanding school of the lay apostolate" (LG, 35). This is the proper vocation of the married persons:

They must be witnesses of faith and love of Christ to one another and to their children. The Christian family proclaims aloud both the present power of the kingdom of God and the hope of the blessed life. Hence, by example and by their testimony, they convict the world of sin and give light to those who seek the truth.41

The laity do not only share in the same dignity and are not only equal to the clergy, they likewise are co-responsible agents in the salvific mission of the Church (LG, 33).42 The mission of the Church is the mission of the laity which is not simply a sharing in the apostolate of the clergy. The Lord himself, not the hierarchy, ultimately appoints them as subjects of the mission through their (lay) apostolate, and they perform their responsibility in the secular world where they normally are. This is what the Council refers to as the secular character peculiar to the laity (LG, 31; AA, 2; GS, 43), wherein they are challenged to evangelize and sanctify the world by their works; give witness to a dedicated life resplendent in faith, hope and charity and to gospel values; become salt of the earth; and direct worldly affairs43 towards God’s will (LG, 31; AA, 2, 6; LG, 33).44

The "total ecclesiology" framework has recovered the sense of equality and co-responsibility that ought to mark the People of God without discrimination. There is no fundamental difference between the laity and the clergy in the Church in terms of status; they differ only in terms of function (LG, 10). The ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood of the laity essentially share in the one priesthood of Christ.45Each member in the Body of Christ, in deep fellowship with one another and having Jesus as the head, has a particular role and function to fulfill. There is a plurality of ministries but the overall goal is to build up the Church and to be at the service of the kingdom of God. To edify and help build up the community, the Holy Spirit gives each member a particular gift or charism. While the Council has affirmed the hierarchical structure of the Church, this has to be balanced by an optimistic and healthy recognition of the presence of charisms in the community. The Church does not only have a hierarchical structure, it also has a charismatic structure. Both are gifts of the Spirit "who dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful as in a temple" (LG, 4). To neglect the charismatic aspect "leads to clericalism, abuse of authority and power in the church, and the depreciation of the role of the laity."46

No one today will view the laity, at least in principle, that they are second class citizens or mere assistants in the ministry of the hierarchy. They are the Church and as such share equally with the clergy as far as enjoying equal dignity in the Church and exercising co-responsibility of its mission and ministry are concerned. Gone is the vision of the laity as a passive flock. Building up the Church the Body of Christ is as much the task of the laity as the clergy (LG, 32). Their being Church is ultimately rooted in the sacrament of baptism and strengthened in confirmation. Thus, the living out of their ecclesial personality and their participation in the concrete ministries and activities of the Church are not merely contingent upon the shortage or the numerical availability of the clergy. Both are constitutive of and are a consequence of their baptismal commitment.47

To conclude, several Vatican-inspired theological ideas pertaining to the laity can be identified.48 They are: the fundamental equality of all the baptized; the universal call to holiness; the universal call to mission arising from baptism, not hierarchical commission; the mission of the laity oriented both ad extra (to the world) and ad intra (within the community of the church); the secular as the specifying element of the lay mission; the diversity of ministries supporting the mission along with a sense of the order of relationships among members of the church;49and the rediscovery of the sacred dignity of all creation, of marriage, human love and sexuality, of human work, and of involvement in human society.

Some Critical Assessment

Vatican II did not actually undertake a theological evaluation of the lay state as it set its focus on the lay apostolate. It did not go beyond defining the lay as one who is (a) Christian through baptism; (2) not clerical; and (3) having ‘secularity’ as its proper character.50 The first point is obviously applicable as well to the clergy. The negative designation ‘not clerical’ does not add or subtract anything from what it means to be a Christian. This point defines the laity based on the clergy; it is as if their identity is derived from the clergy. Regarding the third point, it becomes theologically problematic if we understand the ‘secularity’ of the laity in an ontological and exclusive sense since it

is not only lay people who have to be in and engaged with the world. If we take the proclamation of Gaudium et Spes seriously, to be in and with the world must be a fundamental attitude of the Church, and therefore also of the clergy. If the clergy does not share this same interest, they cannot accomplish their own duty. The distinction between the spiritual and the worldly (or material) realm that has been dominant both in the ecclesiology of the Middle Ages ("two swords") and in modern ecclesiology (societas perfecta materialis et spiritualis) is very questionable.51

The notion of secularity ought to be understood in the sense that the laity, in view of their circumstances and occupations, are more directly involved in the realities of the world than the clergy even as secularity is true of all Christians.52

The Council’s description of the lay person, then, is not a definitive theological statement but a typological one,53 that is, it merely describesthe type of laity that has so far developed.54 Pinning down the essence of the laity is a futile exercise for there "is no such thing as the ‘essence‘ of the laity. The essence of both the cleric and the lay person is to be Christian."55 When one considers that the Council is a compromise of conservative and liberal ideas,56 one is hard pressed to find in its documents dealing with the laity a radical or groundbreaking theological teaching.

Despite the question surrounding the conciliar definition of the laity the Council did set the stage for subsequent theological explorations on the nature of the laity.57 Moreover what is salutary is that the "nature of the Church could no longer be determined by the kind of overwhelming attention to hierarchy and ordained ministry that had been the pre-Vatican II norm."58 As a matter of fact the Council’s statements on the laity provided the official impetus for the plethora of theological works that emerged in its wake and more active lay involvement in the Church hand in hand with structural innovations particularly on the local level.59 The post-Vatican period bears witness, on the one hand, to substantial reflections by the works of scriptural scholars, theologians, ecclesiologists, and historians, and, on the other hand, to the life experiences of the laity in spiritual movements, parish and community living, liberation theology and social justice involvement, ministries, and family living.60 The emergence of theologies of the laity,61 even conflicting ones, which crystallized in the last forty years testify to the wide interest on the subject in the Church. Despite the presence of ambivalent elements in the Vatican II teaching on the laity and the carry-over of a dualist thinking, the Council has undoubtedly inspired changes in mindset and praxis among the laity to become what they are. This is a work in progress.


The preceding developments in ecclesiological thinking which has highlighted the laity being integrally Church have for good measure heightened the raising of lay consciousness and lay empowerment. There have been positive indicators pointing to the significant increase of lay ecclesial awareness and involvement in the academic and pastoral fields. This positive movement opens the door for an intentional advocacy of a truly lay-centered Church.

Doohan believes that the institution is ready for a lay-centered Church due to the unprecedented increase in the number of educated and committed laity while "for the first time in history" theologically trained laity outnumber clergy and religious.62 To be sure, the author’s observation was conditioned by his Western background, but at least it offers us a larger picture and a sense of what has been happening in the universal Church since the post-Vatican II days. Anywhere all over the Catholic world, the ministry of the Church is increasingly becoming dependent (brought about in part by the practical shortage of priest-clerics) on the laity. In the country in particular, the numerical growth of such lay-oriented movements as Basic Ecclesial Communities, Christian Family Movement, Couples for Christ, Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals, and Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement, to name several, attests to the great appeal these movements have to the lay faithful. Couples’ testimonies about how the notion and actual practice of the domestic church in their respective local areas are directly or indirectly promoted are not wanting.63

In the academic field, reputable Catholic institutions have existing theological/religious education/formation for interested and qualified lay. To name some of these institutions: East Asian Pastoral Institute, De La Salle University, University of San Carlos, Loyola School of Theology, Maryhill School of Theology, University of Santo Tomas, Mother of Life, Don Bosco Center of Studies. In particular the De La Salle University in 2002 opened up an Applied Theology Program which is interdisciplinary, praxis-oriented, and inculturated in character to cater primarily to the lay with qualified academic background. Diocesan seminaries, like in the Archdiocese of Cebu, offer as well theological courses and updating programs that are not exclusive for clerics.

Doohan’s appeal to view the Church in familial categories is very significant since it positively entails a decisively lay hermeneutic. I am adopting the term "lay hermeneutic" in the sense used by Bernard Lee.64 The word presupposes the importance of social location in theological thinking. By social location I am referring "not only to class, status, and economic level but also to characteristic attitudes and perspectives born of social identifications."65 In the Church

those who interpret Christian life primarily from their position as designated leaders and ministers in the community are closer to what has become known as clerical in perspective. Those whose interpretation is primarily from the position of family and so-called secular life offer a lay interpretation.66

Here, experience67—more precisely interpreted experience—is a substantive part of the social location even as the latter is inextricably cultural. Today we think of theology that is not a mimicry of "timeless truths" but a creative process which emerges from the womb of historical consciousness interacting with ever-changing human conditions within specific cultural contexts.



1. See John Fuellenbach, Church: Community for the Kingdom (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002), 38, 173-207; Frank J. Matera, "Theologies of the Church in the New Testament," in The Gift of the Church: A Textbook on Ecclesiology in Honor of Patrick Granfield, ed. Peter C. Phan (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2000), 3-21; Avery Dulles, Models of the Church, 2d ed. (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1988), 34-102, 204-226.; Leonardo Boff, Church: Charism and Power: Liberation Theology and the Institutional Church (New York: Crossroad, 1985), 1-11.

2. The "neglected dimensions" owed to the decisive influence of the classical ecclesiology of societas perfecta for more than four hundred years from the Council of Trent.

3. Joseph Komonchak, "Towards a Theology of the Local Church," FABC Papers no. 42 (1986): 4.

4. Leonard Doohan, The Lay-Centered Church: Theology and Spirituality (Minneapolis, MN: Winston Press, 1984), 65.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid. Komonchak makes more or less a similar observation on the faithful’s inability to understand the ecclesiological language as the latter "is often foreign to their experience, because it is either biblical or abstractly theological . . ." See "Towards a Theology of the Local Church," 4.

7. Doohan, The Lay-Centered Church, 63-64.

8. Ibid., 65-66.

9. This is not to argue for the abolition of leadership structure or teaching authority in the Church that ordinary Catholics need for discernment and moral guidance but for the elimination of an authority-based/norm-based mindset and attitude. Such a way of thinking and valuing is the mark of an immature member and is fed by a paternalist-hierarchical system that knows all the questions of the parishioners—and the answers.

10. Hans Küng, putting himself in the shoes of the laity, boldly asserts that "for as long as I can contribute advice and work, but am excluded from decision-making, I remain, no matter how many fine things are said about my status, a second-class member of this community: I am more an object which is utilized than a subject who is actively responsible. The person who can advise and collaborate, but not participate in decision-making in a manner befitting that person’s status, is not really the Church, but only belongsto the Church." Küng, Reforming the Church Today: Keeping Hope Alive (New York: Crossroad, 1990), 75.

11. Cf. Doohan, The Lay-Centered Church, 27. For his detailed assessment of church attitudes and structures vis-à-vis the laity in the Church, see 26-61. In the Philippines the exclusive claim over sacred traditions can be illustrated by the rigid anti-Reproductive Health Bill stand of the Catholic bishops without due regard to the diverse and actual experiences of couples and differences in ethical-religious beliefs.

12. Jose M. de Mesa, In Solidarity with the Culture: Studies in Theological Re-rooting, Maryhill Studies 4 (Quezon City: Maryhill School of Theology, 1987; reprint 1991), 4.

13. Wendy Wright, Sacred Dwelling (New York: Crossroad, 1989), 24. In the Philippines, published articles on the subject ‘family as domestic church’ seem to be few and far between and written for the most part by the clergy.

14. Doohan, The Lay-Centered Church, 64.

15. Aloys Grillmeier, "The Mystery of the Church," in Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II,Vol. I, ed. Herbert Vorgrimler (New York: Herder and Herder, 1967), 143.

16. Ibid., xii.

17. Ibid., 67. The present study in taking up Doohan’s proposal is not meant to disparage the relative importance of the Church models which emerged in ecclesiological history. For example, to mention a few, the Servant model and the Church of the Poor model remain relevant in today’s Philippine context where life is characterized by kahirapan (poverty) and lack of kaayusan (order) as described by PCPII in its Appendix 1.

18. Doohan, The Lay-Centered Church, 24. See also Apostolicam Actuositatem, 1, 3 and Lumen Gentium, 33.

19. Doohan, The Lay-Centered Church, 24; Yves Congar, Lay People in the Church (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1957); idem, "My Pathfindings in the Theology of Laity and Ministries," The Jurist 32 (1972): 169-188. For a summarized evaluation of Congar’s ecclesiology, see Timothy I. MacDonald, The Ecclesiology of Yves Congar: Foundational Themes (Lanham/New York/London: University Press of America, 1984), 130-140.

20. Doohan thinks that the ‘total ecclesiology’ "seems to be implicitly the position of John Paul II in Redemptor Hominis as it contains few vocational statements and the whole encyclical seems to be for everyone—the Church." See Doohan, The Lay-Centered Church, 24.

21. See Paul Lakeland, The Liberation of the Laity: In Search of an Accountable Church (New York/London: Continuum, 2003), 49-62, 75-77.

22. Ibid., 62-70.

23. Ibid., 70-75.

24. Alexander Faivre, The Emergence of the Laity in the Early Church (New York: Paulist, 1990),3.

25. Earl D. Lavender, "Origins of Lay/Clerical Terminology," Theology Digest 36, no. 2 (Summer 1989): 120.

26. Jose M. de Mesa, "Following of Jesus and Lay Empowerment," in Journeying with the Spirit: A Commentary on PCP-II, ed. Paul Bernier and Manuel G. Gabriel (Quezon City: Claretian Publications, 1993), 80; also Herbert Haag, Upstairs, Downstairs: Did Jesus Want a Two-Class Church? (New York: Crossroad, 1997), 37-68.

27. Peter Neuner has proposed that there is no special theology of the laity to speak about but only People of God. This must find its way in the Church’s organizational structure so that the laity can participate in the Church’s important decisions. See "Aspects of a Theology of the Laity," Theology Digest 36, no. 2 (Summer 1989): 124-125. For a further clarification of the term ‘lay’, refer to Kenan B. Osborne, "The Meaning of Lay, Laity and Lay Ministry," Theology Digest (Summer, 1989): 113-119. The author provides guidelines to assist any theological attempt to clarify its meaning.

28. In an apparent departure from the no-division praxis among the early Christians, LG 10, using ontological language alien to the early Church, teaches that the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are different not only in degree but in essence.

29. See Mt 1:21; Lk 1:68, 77; 17:16.

30. See Eugene Flameygh, "The Laity in History," East Asian Pastoral Review 23, no. 3 (1986): 234.

31. Flameygh, "The Laity in History," 234; Herman Hendrickx, "The People of God in the Old Testament," East Asian Pastoral Review 23, no. 3 (1986): 210-230.

32. See Haag, Upstairs, Downstairs, 90-108.

33. Lavender, "Origins of Lay/Clerical Terminology," 120.

34. de Mesa, "Following of Jesus and Lay Empowerment," 85.

35. The theology of ministry became clericalized (or episcopalized) when it got derived directly from the single aspect of eucharist whose exclusive presiders were bishops and priests. Gerard Austin, "Baptism as Matrix of Ministry," Louvain Studies 23 (1998): 105-06. This was not the case in the New Testament where ministry "did not develop from and around the eucharist, but from the apostolic building up of the community through preaching, admonition and leadership." Edward Schillebeeckx, The Church with a Human Face: A New and Expanded Theology of Ministry (New York: Crossroad, 1985), 119.Nonetheless, the first millennium of the Church’s existence witnessed the crucial role of the lay people who "engaged in activities that must be recognized as ministry: witnessing to Christian faith, evangelizing, and extending mercy." Carolyn Osiek, "Who Did What in the Church in the New Testament?" in Lay Ministry in the Catholic Church: Visioning Church Ministry through the Wisdom of the Past, ed. Richard W. Miller (Liguori, MO: Liguori, 2005), 31.

36. For a focused discussion on the laity as found in each document, see Lakeland, The Liberation of the Laity,88-100.

37. See Gal 3:28; cf. Col 3:11.

38. See Teodoro C. Bacani, The Filipino Laity: Called to Be Holy (Makati: LB Trades, 1988).

39. LG,10.

40. See Emmanuel de Guzman, "Exploring the Terrain of Sensus Fidelium among ‘Root-crops’ Christians," MST Review 6, no. 2 (2004): 1-17; John J. Burkhard, "Sensus Fidei: Theological Reflection since Vatican II: I. 1965-1984," The Heythrop JournalXXXVI (1993): 41-59; idem, "Sensus Fidei: Theological Reflection since Vatican II: II. 1985-1989," Heythrop Journal XXXVI (1993): 123-136.

41. LG,35.

42. See also AA,3.

43. Lest the idea of lay secularity reflects a type of binary opposition that separates the laity (in the secular realm) from the clergy (in the spiritual realm), it must be clarified that both the clergy and the laity live in one world where the secular and the spiritual inseparably intertwine with each other. In practice, no one in the Church is totally disengaged from the secular affairs. The doctrine of secularity can be misconstrued as a pretext to justify an apolitical stance of the clergy.

44. See Dominador Bombongan, Jr. "Signposts for Lay Empowerment in Vatican II," Hapag 2, no. 2 (2005): 221-225.

45. The Council using ontological language explains that the priesthood of the clergy and of the laity differs not only in degree but in essence (LG, 10).

46. Bombongan, Jr., "Signposts for Lay Empowerment," 218.

47. See also Part IV of PCP II on "The Community of Disciples: Workers of Renewal" (nos. 402-657). This section of the document rightfully begins with the fundamental notions of one common vocation and mission shared by everyone in the Church.

48. Peter Price, "Vatican II: End of a Clerical Church," Australian EJournal of Theology (August 2003); retrieved fromhttp://dlibrary.

49. Vatican II acknowledged the tension between the "equal and hierarchical" and the "collaborative and distinct/separate" poles, but did not resolve it. If there is going to be a resolution at all it is a "work-in-progress." (Ibid.)

50. See LG,31.

51. "The Role and Relationship of the Laity in the Church" (a discussion guide prepared for the workshop sessions of the Fourth Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, convened at the Major Seminary, Tokyo, Japan, September 16-25, 1986, FABC Papers no. 46a (1986): 70.

52. Ibid., 8.

53. Edward Schillebeeckx, The Mission of the Church (London: Sheed and Ward, 1973), 90-116.

54. Jose M. de Mesa, "Vatican II on the Laity: ‘Limen’ or ‘Lumen’?" Landas 2, no. 2 (July 1988): 241.

55. "The Role and Relationship of the Laity in the Church," 5.

56. Peter Price offers an example: "The Council swings back and forth between two positions: on the one hand, the major insight ofLumen Gentium chapter two and Gaudium et Spes where the Church is an active presence of Christians in the world and for the world, with the consequences this involves for the priesthood and the religious life, and on the other, a clerical approach in which the layman is once again considered as a subordinate, a kind of subject of the hierarchy. This can already be seen in chapter four ofLumen Gentium and becomes flagrant in the Decree on the Lay Apostolate" (Price, "Vatican II: End of a Clerical Church?"). Cf. Richard P. McBrien, Church: The Continuing Quest (Paramus, N.J./New York/Toronto/ London: Newman Press, 1970), 23-41.

57. de Mesa, "Vatican II on the Laity," 238-245.

58. Lakeland, The Liberation of the Laity, 88-89.

59. E.g., parish/diocesan pastoral councils as consultative structures.

60. Doohan, The Lay-Centered Church, 1.

61. See ibid.,1-25, where the author briefly expounds on and makes a critique of each theology.

62. Ibid., xi.

63. See for instance, "Pastoral Initiatives," East Asian Pastoral Review 24, no. 3 (1987): 302- 321.

64. Bernard Lee, The Future Church of 140 B.C.E.: A Hidden Revolution (New York: Crossroad, 1995), 141. Bacani in his reflection on the lay apostolate drew out a significant implication of the Vatican II teaching on the theme by suggesting that the laity must be allowed and encouraged to exercise responsibly their God-given freedom including freedom of thought and inquiry. Bacani,The Filipino Laity,43. The hortatory statement is a tacit recognition of the inherent right and capacity of the lay people to think responsibly "for the promotion of the kingdom" (Ibid.). The exercise of the right does not ultimately depend on the approval or non-approval of the hierarchy but on their Christian dignity rooted in baptism.

65. Carolyn Osiek and David L. Balch, Families in the New Testament World: Households and House Churches (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997), 91.

66. Lee, The Future Church, 141.

67. Our experiences function as a ‘model’ of reality according to Clifford Geertz. By these interpretive models we comprehend the past. Clifford Geertz, "Religion as a Cultural System," in Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion,ed. M. Banton (London: Tavistock, 1966), 1-46.

  • Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) in Spirituality and Leadership
    Aug 04
    Nov 30