The Church is a home that priests and laypeople need to care for together, Pope Francis said on Saturday.
“It is time for pastors and laypeople to walk together, in every area of the Church’s life, in every part of the world,” he said in the Vatican’s New Synod Hall on Feb. 18.
“The lay faithful are not ‘guests’ in the Church, they are at home, so they are called to take care of their own home,” he said. “The laity, and especially women, need to be more valued in their human and spiritual skills and gifts for the life of parishes and dioceses.”
Pope Francis’ speech was addressed to the participants in a Feb. 16-18 conference on how pastors and laypeople can work together better for the mission of the Church.
“Together with pastors, they must bear Christian witness in secular environments: the world of work, culture, politics, art, social communication,” the pope said. “We could say: laypeople and pastors together in the Church, laypeople and pastors together in the world.”
Pope Francis went on to list some of the many ways laypeople can participate in the life of the Church: performing some forms of preaching; collaborating with priests in the formation of children, young adults, seminarians, and religious novices; spiritual directing, preparing engaged couples for marriage, and accompanying married couples.
“They should always be consulted when preparing new pastoral initiatives at every level: local, national, and universal,” he said.
“This is why,” Pope Francis said, “pastors need to be trained from seminary days onward in daily and ordinary collaboration with the laity, so that living communion becomes a natural way of acting for them, and not an extraordinary and occasional occurrence.”
“One of the worst things that happens in a pastor is to forget the people from whom he came, the lack of memory,” he continued. “To him can be addressed that much-repeated word of the Bible, ‘Remember;’ ‘remember from whence you were taken, of the flock from which you were taken to return to serve it, remember your roots’ (cf. 2 Tim. 1).”