Pope Francis sent a message on 12th November, addressed to the President of the Pontifical Council for the laity, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, and participants of a seminar organized by the council commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1965 council document Apostolicam actuositatem, the decree on the apostolate of the laity to discuss the vocation and mission of laypeople in the Catholic Church.
In his letter to the Pontifical Council for the Laity, he said that the Council does not consider the laity as though they were members of a second tier, at the service of the hierarchy and merely carrying out their orders issued from high up but instead as Christ’s disciples who are called to animate every place and human activity in the world according to the spirit of the Gospel.
The Pope said that while the council’s teachings have contributed to the growth of lay formation, its application challenges “every generation of pastors and laypeople, because it is a priceless gift of the Holy Spirit that must be accepted with gratitude and a sense of responsibility."
Lay people, he states, bring “the light, hope, and love received from Christ in those places that, otherwise, might remain unknown to the action of God and abandoned to the misery of the human condition."
“No one can carry out better than them this essential work ‘to see that the divine law is inscribed in the life of the earthly city,’" the pope continues, quoting Gaudium et spes.
Telling participants that making the teachings of the Second Vatican Council come alive in the Church was a strong pastoral motivation for St John Paul II, Pope Francis asked them to “have in your hearts the same longing to live and implement the council and bring the light of Christ to the world."
“I pray to the Lord … so that your conference may be a stimulus to all — pastors and lay faithful — to have in their heart the same stress of living and carrying out the Council and bringing to the world the light of Christ," he concludes.