As bishops, "we can't do anything," he said. "We can give orientations, guidelines, but the ones who have to take the baton in their hands are the laity."
It is the laity who must "fight for adequate legislation in education and other areas," he said, and, pointing to a recent initiative in the country, said the push to have "an encyclopedia of genitalia" as if it were the most important educational text "is the wrong path."
There are already lay people working in this area, the cardinal said, adding that "this is what we want: that they are the ones with the baton."
Youth and laity were also key topics in the meeting with Pope Francis, stemming from discussion on World Youth Day.
Francis has often condemned a clericalist attitude prevalent in Latin America, calling it in a 2016 letter to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America "one of the greatest distortions of the Church" in the region.
So it's not surprising that the role of the laity came up with the Panamanian bishops. In fact, Archbishop Ulloa said the Pope stressed "the importance of believing in the laity," because the laity "are also capable of transforming our society."
This also includes the youth, the archbishop said, explaining that Pope Francis also focused on the "spaces and opportunities" that must be provided to the youth.
"In the Church, in the world, many things will change, and youth will truly fight to have a place in this time of transformation," he said, noting how Pope Francis said that youth "are not [just] the future," but rather, "they are the present of the Church, and the present of humanity."
"What a responsibility it is for them also to be a youth in this time!" Archbishop Ulloa said, adding that the youth are "the fresh air that we have to continue hoping in for a different world." If this world is possible, he said, "it's possible thanks to the youth."
Alvaro de Juana contributed to this piece.