“The laypeople are not there at our service. We are there together at the service of the Church,” he underlined, noting that the Church needs “better formation, better awareness, and a lot of work” to bring this vision to fruition.
Lacroix recalled a time before he was a cleric, when he gave this advice to pastors: “Resist inviting us to come into your things. Recognize that some of us are in school, some of us are in our profession, and we need to be good disciples there.”
“You’re always asking how we can serve you, which isn’t a bad thing, but it needs to be more than that.”
Cardinal Farrell told journalists “it is very important that we do not reduce the role of the laity in the Church to a mere functional participation or a mere functional involvement.”
“The laity have a lot more to offer than a mere function that they can perform,” he added.
“The laity are not just to take up the collection at the Sunday Mass. They are to do much more.”
The Irish-born American cardinal said he hopes the conference can help nurture a much deeper understanding of what it means to be co-responsible for the life of the Church.
Organizers also said the conference theme works well within the Church’s ongoing conversation on synodality.
“I think that the question of synodality is extremely important for the Church,” Farrell said. “It was the style of the Church from the very beginning. The Church was founded in a synodal way and I believe the Church always functioned in a synodal way,” he said, before changes took place with the Reformation.
“Today we are headed back toward our founding principles: synodality,” the cardinal asserted.
Both Farrell and Lacroix emphasized the importance of personal conversion on the part of both pastors and lay men and women.
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Farrell also said co-responsibility “doesn’t mean that laity have to become clerics and clerics have to become laity.”
Everyone has his or her own calling and gifts, he said. “I would caution against … reducing the worth of the laity and the great gift they bring to the Church to just some ministerial role in the Church.”
Linda Ghisoni, a canon lawyer and undersecretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, said this week’s conference has been in the works since 2019.
She also pointed to article 132 of Praedicate evangelium, the new apostolic constitution of the Roman Curia, which states that the dicastery “studies issues relating to cooperation between the laity and ordained ministers in virtue of their baptism and the diversity of charisms and ministries, in order to foster in both an awareness of co-responsibility for the life and mission of the Church.”