With an ecumenical council tackling the problem of the status of the laity for the first time in history, the lay representatives now functioning as “auditors” side by side with the bishops of the Universal Church feel that their views are being given earnest consideration.
This is the gist of a statement released on behalf of the dozen Catholic lay representatives in the council, who were all appointed directly by Pope Paul VI.
The statement said that it is especially in the meetings of the council commissions that the lay auditors have their place: “There we can offer our advice.” Several such lay interventions have proved effective, according to the statement.
The auditors said that they are impressed by the fact that the Church is not at all static, but rather “dynamic and anxious to renew herself.” They also said they have been impressed by the freedom of discussion in the council sessions. This is salutary, they said, as “the most tumultuous councils have resulted in progress.”
So far as ecumenism is concerned, the statement continued, the Catholic Church, now engaged “in dialogue with herself, is emerging from the epoch of mutual ignorance.”
The auditors voiced their gratitude for the “openness” of the Church and her genuine desire to meet the needs of the present day and age in an effort offering great opportunity for lay cooperation.
The statement also revealed that Bishop Emilio Guano of Leghorn, Italy, a member of the council’s Lay Apostolate Commission, has been appointed the council’s liaison “assessor” for lay auditors.
Father Placid Jordan, OSB
NCWC News Rome correspondent