In a message to participants at a conference on the mission of the laity in Rome, Pope Francis urged the city's Christians to be mindful of those in poverty.
“I advise you to make habitual use of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, a complete and valuable instrument. With the help of this 'compass,' I encourage you to work for the social inclusion of the poor, having for them always as a matter of priority, religious and spiritual attention,” he wrote on March 7 to those at “The Mission of Lay Christians in the City” conference.
The Pope reminded participants of a “fundamental” aspect of ecclesial life:“the lay faithful are protagonists in the work of evangelization and human promotion.”
“Incorporated into the Church, each member of the People of God is inseparably a disciple and a missionary. We must always start again from this foundation, common to all of us, children of Mother Church,” he explained.
Because of this “common belonging,” Pope Francis said, it is important to to place lay associations and parishes in opposition to one another.
He described the work of lay organizations as “a resource for the Church,” particularly “in their variety and dynamism,” working “in diverse environments and sectors of social life.”
Yet “it is good to maintain the vital link” with pastors and parishes in the diocese, so as to “not uproot oneself from Mother Church.”
Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Vicar General of Rome, gave the conference’s first address on Friday.
He noted that in recent years he has considered the work of Rome’s lay faithful, learning “with satisfaction that there is a widespread presence, active and generous, that unfolds in many fields.”
“Nevertheless,” the cardinal observed, “it seems to me that today is a necessary step forward toward a more strongly felt ecclesial awareness that is more participatory and responsible.”
The conference included talks by local professors on topics such as “lay Christians in the city of Rome: protagonists in a new humanism,” as well as communal prayer and working groups for the study of the responsibilities of lay Christians.
The two-day event, put on by the Vicariate of Rome, was held at the Pontifical Lateran University.