The pontifical council charged with helping care for the laity met with Pope Benedict on Saturday and received the challenge to continue their efforts to reach the youth and promote the equal dignity of women.
With the entire Pontifical Council for the Laity gathered for its 23rd assembly, Pope Benedict XVI focused on revisiting John Paul II’s exhortation "Christifideles Laici" on its 20th anniversary.
The Pope began by explaining how the John Paul II’s document on the laity represents "an organic reassessment of Vatican Council II's teaching on the lay faithful: their dignity as baptized persons, their vocation to sanctity, their membership of the ecclesial communion, their involvement in building Christian communities and in the mission of the Church, their witness in all areas of social life and their commitment to serve the integral growth of the individual and the common good of society."
As society changes, Benedict XVI explained that the laity should look to the historic document as a guide "for discernment and for the intensification of the Church's lay commitment."
One aspect of this change has been the rise of movements within the Church which should also be guided by the "criteria of ecclesiality" given in the document. These criteria are necessary, "on the one hand, for pastors' own discernment and, on the other, for the development of associations of faithful, ecclesial movements and new communities," the Pope said.
Given "[t]he current cultural and social situation," Pope Benedict stressed that evangelization is "even more urgently necessary" to pass on the faith, culture and tradition of the Church to the youth.
The hearts of the new generation "await proposals of truth and happiness" the Holy Father said as he recalled his recent trip to World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia.
Benedict XVI then went on to praise the Pontifical Council for the Laity for the importance it gives to "the dignity and participation of women in the life of the Church and of society" because "men and women, equal in their dignity, are called to enrich one another in communion and collaboration, not only in marriage and the family, but in all dimensions of society."
As he drew his remarks to a close, Pope Benedict encouraged the council for the laity to continue their work of forming the lay faithful. He particularly reiterated the "urgent need for evangelical formation and pastoral accompaniment of the new generation of Catholics involved in political life, that they may remain coherent to the faith they profess, uphold their moral rigor, capacity for cultural judgment, professional competency and passion for service of the common good."