In an April 2016 letter to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Pope Francis called clericalism "one of the greatest distortions" facing the local Church on the continent.
"[We'd] do well to recall that the Church is not an elite [of] priests, of consecrated people, of bishops but all of us make up the faithful and Holy People of God," he said, noting that everyone begins their life as a layperson.
Clericalism, he said, is the result of "a mistaken way of living out the ecclesiology proposed by the Second Vatican Council," which "forgets that the visibility and the sacramentality of the Church belong to all the people of God and not just to an illuminated and elected few."
He discouraged clergy from relying on trite phrases about their flock such as "it's time for the laity."
While well-intentioned, the phrase has little meaning when stacked against actions, he said, explaining that clergy should focus on encouraging the laity to be active, but "it is not the job of the pastor to tell the laypeople what they must do and say."
"It is illogical and even impossible for us as pastors to believe that we have the monopoly on solutions for the numerous challenges thrown up by contemporary life."
In an interview given to El Sembrador Nueva Evangelización – ESNE TV and Radio station the same year but published in 2017, Francis said he believes laity need to "come out of the caves."
"Sometimes I think the best business we can do with many Christians, is to sell them mothballs so that they put them in their clothes and in their lives and aren't eaten by moths," he said, explaining that in order to fulfill their mission, lay Catholics "have to go out, they have to go and bring the message of Jesus" to others.
Similarly, in a speech to Bangladeshi bishops during his visit to the nation in December 2017, the pope told them to "show ever greater pastoral closeness to the lay faithful, and to "recognize and value the charisms of lay men and women, and encourage them to put their gifts at the service of the Church and of society as a whole."