The following are selected quotes from Pope John Paul II in The Lay Members of Christ’s Faithful People. All emphases are in the original. (Pope John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, The Lay Members of Christ’s Faithful People. Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1988)
At the same time, the Synod has pointed out that the post-conciliar path of the lay faithful has not been without its difficulties and dangers. In particular, two temptations can be cited which they have not always known how to avoid: the temptation of being so strongly interested in Church services and tasks that some fail to become actively engaged in their responsibilities in the professional, social, cultural and political world; and the temptation of legitimizing the un warranted separation of faith from life, that is, separation of the Gospel’s acceptance from the actual living of the Gospel in various situations in the world. (12-13)
In giving response to the question “Who are the lay faithful?” the [Vatican II] Council went beyond previous interpretations which are predominantly negative. Instead it opened itself to a decidedly positive vision and displayed a basic intention of asserting the full belonging of the lay faithful to the Church and to its mystery. At the same time it insisted on the unique character of their vocation which is, in a special way, to “seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and ordering them according to the plan of God.” “The term ‘lay faithful’” – we read in the Constitution of the Church, Lumen Gentium – “is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in Holy Orders and those who belong to a religious state sanctioned by the Church. Through Baptism the lay faithful are made the one body with Christ and are established among the People of God. They are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ. They carry out their own part in the mission of the whole Christian people with to the Church and the world.” (25-26)
The “world” thus becomes the place and the means for the lay faithful to fulfill their Christian vocation because the world itself is destined to glorify God the Father in Christ. (36)
The lay faithful’s position in the Church, then, comes to be fundamentally defined by their newness in Christian life and distinguished by their secular character.
The images of salt, light and leaven taken from the Gospel, although indiscriminately applicable to Jesus’ disciples, are specifically applied to the lay faithful. They are particularly meaningful images because they speak not only of the deep involvement and the full participation of he lay faithful in the affairs of the earth, the world and the human community, but also and above all, they tell of the radical newness and unique character of an involvement and participation which has as its purpose the spreading of the Gospel that brings salvation. (37-38)
In the context of the transformations taking place in the world of economy and work which are a cause of concern, the lay faithful have the responsibility of being in the forefront in working out a solution to the very serious problems of growing unemployment; to fight for the most opportune overcoming of numerous injustices that come from organizations of work which lack a proper goal; to make the workplace a community of persons respected in their uniqueness and in their right to participation; to develop new solidarity among those that participate in a common work; to raise up new forms of business enterprising and to look again at systems of commerce, finance and exchange of technology. (110-111)