A Dicastery for the laity: between history and future

A Dicastery for the laity: between history and future

28th Plenary Assembly
Rome, 16-18 June 2016
Press Release

From 16 to 18 of June 2016, the Pontifical Council for the Laity will hold its twenty-eighth Plenary Assembly with the theme, ‘A Dicastery for the laity: between history and future,’ at the International Pontifical College Maria Mater Ecclesiae in Rome.

A few days ago on June 4, the Holy Father Francis, following up on his announcement from the Synod of Bishops in October 2015, approved ‘ad experimentum,’ the Statute of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, according to which a new Dicastery is established: “competent in matters that pertain to the Apostolic See regarding the promotion of life, the apostolate of the lay faithful, the pastoral care of the family and its mission according to God’s plan and for the safeguard and support of human life.” (Article 1).

With the implementation of those statutes from 1 of September, the respective function of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family will cease (Article 13). In light of this impending change, the next Plenary will be a very significant moment for the Pontifical Council for the Laity, as it closes a long and productive journey of Dicastery, which has been at the service of vocation and mission of the Catholic laity around the world for the last fifty years since its creation after the Second Vatican Council.

In this Assembly we will try, starting from the prized teachings of the Second Vatican Council, to trace a balance of the life of the Catholic laity in the Church and in the world, while at the same time taking a look at the future, as proposed by the reform of the Rome Curia promoted by the Holy Father Francis. Therefore, the Plenary Assembly will be a happy occasion to unite together with a retrospective look, a reflection on the current state of theology of the laity and the missionary commitment of the laity throughout the world, faced with great challenges in the midst of the social and cultural contexts of today.

Participating speakers will be leading experts from countries around the world, in addition, of course, to all members and consultants of the Dicastery.

The assembly will commence on the 16 of June with an introduction by the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, on the theme, ‘the 50 year journey with the lay faithful’.  Following [the introduction] Monsignor Domonique Rey, Bishop of Fréjus- Toulon (Francia), will hold a conference on ‘Vocations and missions of the laity in light of the Second Vatican Council,’ with a focus on the novelty and reconciliation of the Laity. In the afternoon Professor Pilar Rio from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross will hold a conference to supplement the previous on, ‘Lay Catholics in the 50 years since Vatican II.’

The following day, on Friday 17 of June, Professor Fabrice Hadjadj of the European Institute of Anthropological "philanthropos" of Fribourg (Switzerland), will present his reflection on the theme, ‘Being a light of the world and salt of the earth. The laity facing the challenges of our times.’  In the afternoon, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, will hold a conference on the theme, ‘The formation of the lay faithful: from initiation to Christian maturity.’

On the final day of the conference, Saturday 18 of June, the conference will see a presentation by Monsignor Marcello Semeraro, Bishop of Albano and Secretary of a group of Cardinals called to advise the Pope on the reforms of the Roman Curia. He will hold a conference on the theme, ‘The Pontifical Council for the Laity at the edge of a new stage of its history,” which will indicate some planning guidelines for the future development of the Congress of the Laity.

During the Plenary Assembly, ample space will be provided for participants to debate and provide their personal testimonies regarding the mission of the laity around the world and on their experience with the Holy See as members and consultants of the Dicastery.

As in past Assemblies, the moment of highlight will be the private audience with the Holy Father on the morning of Friday 17 of June 2016, where he will receive all members and conosultants of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and all those gathered in Rome for the Plenary Assembly.

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