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Pope warns against 'clericalising' the laity

John Paul II has warned against the tendency to "clericalise the laity", which he says has resulted from erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council.

When greeting a group of bishops from western Brazil in Rome for their ad limina visit, the Pope said there is a "confusion of functions", which originates in erroneous theological interpretations.

"Among the objectives of the liturgical reform, established by Vatican Council II, was the need to have all the faithful participate in liturgical ceremonies," the Holy Father told the bishops on Saturday.

"However, in practice, in the years following the council, in order to fulfill this desire, the confusion of functions in regard to the priestly ministry and role of the laity was arbitrarily extended," he said.

Symptoms of this confusion are "the indiscriminate and common recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer," "homilies given by lay people" and the "distribution of Communion by the laity."

These "grave abuses often originated in doctrinal errors, especially in regard to the nature of the liturgy, of the common priesthood of Christians, of the vocation and mission of the laity, but also in regard to the ordained ministry of priests," the Pope stressed.



Pope John Paul II hailed the recent approval of statutes for the Neocatechumenal Way and asked the group's leaders to cooperate generously with an upcoming Vatican examination of their catechetical practices and liturgy.

In a meeting with Neocatechumate founders at the weekend, the pope said the Vatican's approval of statutes in June "opens a new stage in the life of the Way."

He said the statutes were an important aid for local bishops and a fundamental reference point in order for the group's process of formation to take place in harmony with the church's doctrine and discipline.

"Now it is up to the competent dicasteries (offices) of the Holy See to examine the Way's Catechetical Directory and all the catechetical practices, as well as its liturgy," the pope said.


Neocatechumenate Is Providential Response to Secularism, Says Pope (Zenit)
Neocatechumenal Way statute approved by Vatican (28/6/02)
Pontifical Council for the Laity
The Neocatechumenal Way (unofficial site) | Cardinal Ratzinger and the Neocatechumenal Way

25 Sep 2002