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Conversione pastorale - Devotio 2021

Everyone can have a role in the Church, respecting each one's vocation: this is the main focus of “The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church”, published by the Congregation for the Clergy. The document discusses various parish reform projects, providing guidelines for the active participation of the laity in pastoral life.

Lay faithful will be able to celebrate baptisms, funerals and weddings. The reasons are two: the socio-cultural changes of the last decades and the lack of priests. In 30 years the number of priests in Italy has reduced to 16%, the result is that priests have to manage multiple parishes or even a shared pastor.

The Bishop “may officially entrust to deacons, consecrated men and women and lay faithful, under the direction and responsibility of the Parish Priest”, underlines the document. They will be able to preside the Liturgy of the Word when it’s not possible to celebrate the Holy Mass due to the lack of priests, but “these individuals may not in any case give the homily during the celebration of the Eucharist”. Moreover, “the diocesan Bishop can delegate lay persons to assist at marriages”.

This is a strong signal from the Catholic Church encouraging everyone to feel part of a community, but respecting the roles and avoiding to "clericalizing" the laity or "secularizing" the clerics or confusing the role of responsibility of permanent deacons.