Since the time of the First Vatican Council the practice in the church has been to see the leadership in the faith resting with the pope and through him with the bishops. Dioceses were seen as “branch offices” of the Vatican and bishops were the local “branch managers”, the representation of the pope.
Meanwhile voices were heard in the Church, such as the voice of Saint John Henry Newman, which insisted that the laity must be consulted in any Church decision regarding faith and/or morals.
Little, if any, attention was paid to the role of the believing community of the baptized as possessing a legitimate role in determining expressions of the Faith of the Church.
Vatican Council II refocused on the whole Church, all the baptized. The Council presented revelation, not primarily as data or doctrine, but as an event of the Divine communication of God’s very self in Jesus Christ, the visible face of God, the living Word of God. This living Word of God is offered not just to the pope and bishops, but also to the whole Christian faithful. “All the baptized are called to exercise their own ‘supernatural instincts for the faith’ “.
This “instinct” is itself a gift of the Holy Spirit. It allows ordinary believers to receive God’s Word, search its depth, and creatively apply it to their daily lives.
Pope Francis has taken this teaching and made it the center to his vision of the Church. Participation in the faith life of a parish community is not a hobby or merely a volunteer experience; it is the very heart of what it means to be a baptized Christian—to take a rightful role in the ownership of the life of the Church. We all, all of us, form the Body of Christ.
Fr. Steve Adrian
FR. ADRIAN IS ON VACATION
Fr. Adrian will be on vacation from January 9 to February 7, 2023. Fr. Leo Schneider, Fr. Matthew Linn, and Fr. Joseph Bambenek will be substituting for Fr. Adrian.