Twenty years have passed since the publication of the apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici by the Servant of God John Paul II. It was the fruit of the Synod of Bishops held in 1987 on the “vocation and mission of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world”. The publication date was 30 December 1988.
The document is a true magna charta for the Catholic laity of our times. It was written in order to “stir and promote a deeper awareness among all the faithful of the gift and responsibility they share, both as a group and as individuals, in the communion and mission of the Church” (Christifideles laici, n. 2).
Since that time, what developments have there been in thinking on the subject of the laity, what new challenges are faced by the Christifideles, what commitments should they assume in order to fulfil their calling?
This is the theme for the next Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, scheduled for 13 to 15 November 2008 in Rome. Participants will include the recently nominated members and consultors who will join those whose mandate has been renewed.
As the dates are very close to the twentieth anniversary of the publication of this important document, the senior staff of the dicastery have chosen as title of the Plenary: “Twenty years after Christifideles laici: remembrance, development, new challenges and tasks”. The Assembly will be a good opportunity to broaden reflection on the document with the experience acquired in the local churches, associations, ecclesial movements and new communities, in order to have a wider vision of the challenges and priorities for the life and mission of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world today.
On the first day there will be keynote speeches on the identity of the lay faithful and their faith development. On the second day there will be a panel discussion in two parts, short talks on the responsibility of the lay faithful in politics, the workplace, education, culture, social communications and the international sphere. Ample time will be given to debate and discussion.
The final day will include the customary presentation of future programmes of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.