Canon 1141 states that  marriage which is ratified and consummated cannot be dissolved by any humanpower or by any cause other than death. However, Canon
1142  gives an exception that a (ratified but)  non-consummatedmarriage between baptizedpersons or between a baptizedparty and an unbaptizedparty can be dissolved by the RomanPontiff for a just reason, at the request of both parties or of either party, even if the other is unwilling

 The author will explain briefly the meaning of non-consummation and give some historical instances of the dispensation of the marital bond of non-consummated marriage. He will then deal with the canonical process of dispensation of non-consummated marriage with some sample cases of non-consummated marriages which were dispensed in record time.
Non-consummation of marriage.
For a marriage to be regarded as consummated, the couples are to engage in a sexual intercourse after the valid celebration of the marriage. The code of Canon law states the required modo of this conjugal act that qualifies it be a consummation of a particular marriage. Canon
1061 §1 articulates that a validmarriage between baptizedpersons is said to be merelyratified, if it is not consummated; ratified and consummated, if the spouses have in a humanmannerengaged together in a conjugalact in itself apt for the generation of offspring. To this actmarriage is by its natureordered and by it the spouses become one flesh. [1]

This means that for the marriage to be consummated the spouses must have sexual intercourse together and in a manner that is human and is geared towards procreation. There should be no use of contraceptives or any instruments that can render the act unnatural. In the absence of the conjugal act which is apt for bearing of children even if it does not result in conception, the marriage is not consummated. The fact that the husband may be sterile or the woman may barren is canonically irrelevant in this case.[2]
Canonical provisions for the process of dispensation of non-consummated marriage

The third chapter of Book VII of the 1983 Code of Canon law deals with the process of dispensation of ratified but non-consummated marriage in ten canons (cc 1697-1706)[3]

History of dispensation of non-consummated marriage

It was Pope Alexander III (1159 – 1181) who contributed much to the teaching of the church on marriage. He settled the controversy between the schools of Paris and Bologna concerning essentials of marriage. He gave approval to the teaching of the doctors of Paris that marriage is contracted by the consent of the parties (per verba de praesenti), while he rejected the teaching of the canonists of Bologna that until consummation the parties are not strictly speaking married, and that the consent is no more than a solemn engagement to enter the married state.[4]

The school of Bologna put forward a number of reasons on account for which a man might cancel the matrimonium initiatum, in order to be free to remarry. However, Pope Alexander III, though regarded the consent to be the effective cause of marriage, gave a teaching that not until the marriage is consummated the bond was capable of dissolution. It was not indeed, as Bolognese doctors had held, open to the parties to break their contract of their own accord in certain recognized cases. But where there was sufficient reason, the Pope could authorize dissolution of the marital bond.

Pope Alexander III believed that such dispensations were not without precedent. He gave an interpretation of the much canvassed letter of Gregory II to St. Boniface, in which permission is granted for a man whose wife has been attacked by incurable sickness to take another partner. He also dealt with a case in which one partner of a non-consummated marriage had entered the religious life and permission was granted to the other partner to remarry,[5] while for some unrecorded reason he refused a similar request from another applicant.[6]

 Similarly, the pope granted a dispensation from a matrimonium ratem on the ground of supervenient affinity.[7] Also, on two occasions, he exercised the same right on the ground of antecedent impotency.

 In the French church impotency was regarded as a diriment impediment to marriage, but in the Italian church, there was a different view. The Italian church regarded impotency not as a diriment impediment but valid, and the parties were to be exhorted to live as brother and sister.[8] The Pope recommended the Italian practice as more correct, but at the same time was in favor of the practice of the French church. He allowed remarriage to persons who had separated from a partner incapable of the conjugal act.[9]Only to a small extent did Pope Alexander’s successors apply the principles which he had laid down.

Pope Urban III (1185-1187) dissolved a non-consummated marriage, where the bride had been attacked by leprosy.[10] One of the decretals in which the permission was granted, known as Ex Publico, is of special importance. In that decretal, the Pope stated the doctrinal reasons which justify the step.  According to the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ, it is not lawful for a man to dismiss his wife except for the cause of fornication. These words were viewed as the sacred utterance of Jesus Christ and were to be understood as applying to those whose marriage has been consummated.[11] The Pope, in other words, taught that only when man and wife have in fact become “one flesh” is marriage altogether indissoluble and that where the condition is unfulfilled, the church has power to loose the bond; meaning there cannot be a dissolution except through the church’s sentence. [12]

 Pope Gregory VIII (1187) , during his short pontificate granted a dispensation on the ground of impotency,[13]although, Clement III, his immediate successor, within a year, refused a similar request and bade the bishop forbid the parties by threat of excommunication to separate from each other. [14]

 Innocent III (1198- 1216) seemed to have been opposed to any dissolution of marriage. With regard to impotency ,he accepted, the French view and held it as a diriment impediment to marriage, rendering the marriage invalid ab initio.

Gregory IX (1227- 1241) restricted the scope of the dispensation of non-consummated marriage within a narrow limits. He published in the church’s official code, that dispensation of non-consummated marriage is only permitted through religious profession, and on that ground alone.

 Moreover, the decisions regarding dispensation of non-consummated marriage of the previous Popes, which made for various views underwent amendment at the hands of Raymond of Penafort, such that impotency was treated as diriment impediment, and the letters in which Alexander III recognized the French practice as valid for that country, appeared in a form which gave them general force, and no more local force.

 The system embodied in the Decretals of Gregory IX seems to have been accepted by subsequent Popes and the dissolution of matrimonia rata seems to have ceased, except in the case of religious profession and was not held to need a papal permission. Not until the reign of Martin V ( 1417- 1431) do we hear of any further dispensation of non-consummated marriage. However, it is possibly doubtless that some of the Popes might have exercised the right of dispensing non-consummated marriage, but the evidence of the fact is wanting.[15]


 The process is meant for dissolving a non-consummated marriage. We can refer to this process as dispensation as it appears in the Code of Canon Law. The parties have the right to seek this dispensation; no other person can claim any right to seek dispensation for the couples. This process is not a judicial one, rather it is administrative. The diocesan Bishop can ask an instructor to deal with the case usually at a diocesan level. 

Who can seek the dispensation?
The spouses alone, or one of them even if the other is unwilling, have the righ to seek the favor of a dispensation from a ratified and non-consummated marriage. No other person can do this on their behalf or on behalf of one of them. There is need to petition the diocesan Bishop for this dispensation. However, if the case of non-consummation arises during the course of judicial process of nullity of marriage, it is then withdrawn from the judicial platform and forwarded to be processed as an administrative act by the Bishop or by his lawful delegate.

 Who can grant the dispensation?

 It is only through the judgment of the Apostolic See, that dispensation of non-consummation is executed. The Apostolic See is the only person who can give judgment: on the fact of the non-consummation of a marriage and the fact of the existence of a just reason for granting the dispensation. When the case has been properly instructed at local level, the petition and the acts are sent to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which recommend to the Pope the granting of the dispensation. The dispensation per se is given by only the Roman Pontiff, who by virtue of the vicarious power he wields from Christ as a Vicar of Christ can dissolves the marital bond of ratified but non-consummated marriage.


 Who accepts the petition? 

 The diocesan Bishop of the place of domicile or quasi-domicile of the spouse-petitioner is the competent authority to accept the petition for the dispensation of non-consummated marriage. The diocesan Bishop examines the request and if it contains reason(s) to justify its instruction he arranges for the instruction of the case. 

 Cases with special difficulties

 If the proposed case has special difficulties of a juridical or moral order, the diocesan Bishop is to consult the Apostolic See. Recourse to the Apostolic See is available against the decree of a Bishop who rejects the petition. 

 The competent tribunal/Instructor
The Bishop is to assign the instruction of these processes, in a stable manner or case by case, to his own tribunal or to that of another diocese, or to a suitable priest. He can entrust the instruction of the process to an ecclesiastical tribunal or to a suitable priest. It does not matter whether the instruction is carried out in a diocesan tribunal or one pertaining to another diocese. The liberty of the Bishop in choosing tribunal to instruct the process also extends to the possibility choosing a suitable priest in a stable manner or for individual cases.[16]

 In case a judicial plea has been introduced to seek declaration of the nullity of the same marriage, the instruction of the process is not to be assigned to a different tribunal but to the same tribunal which started the process. If doubt about non-consummation surfaces during the course of a trial of matrimonial nullity, independent of the controversy which is being dealt with within the trial, especially if it is a case in which the nullity is examined due to impotency, the tribunal can examine the case of non-consummation due to impotency.[17]   The participation the defender of the bond in these processes is necessary and eh must be given the opportunity to intervene. Tough an advocate is not admitted, the Bishop can, because of the difficulty of a case, allow the petitioner or respondent to have the assistance of an expert in law to assist as an advisor.[18]

 In the course of the instruction of the process both parties are to be heard. As far as possible, the provisions of the collection of evidence in the ordinary contentious process and in cases of nullity of marriage are to be followed. The essential facts that must be proven are the fact of non-consummation and the fact of sufficient reasons or just causes. 

 The circular letter De processu gives a series of norms which are relative to the instruction stage during which the couples and their dispositions in the process are relevant. Testimonies concerning the credibility of the parties and their witnesses should be obtained with the help of their pastors.[19]

 Non-appearance of the parties in the process must conform with the norm of law and be sated in the acts.[20] The parties and their witnesses (the number of witnesses to involve in the process depends on the judgment of the instructor) [21]must take oath to tell the truth[22] and answer questions posed by the instructor and the defender of the bond servatio modo praescripto.[23] In questioning the woman concerning non-consummation the instructor should engage the service of a medical doctor whom he must name ex-officio.[24]

Testimonies of witnesses

 The witnesses should give a moral argument about:
i)what they heard on the parts of the spouses, their relatives, or others regarding non-consummation.
ii)when they heard such declarations
iii)how they arrived at a knowledge of the facts   

 Experts’ reports
Experts should give physical arguments. One or more experts should be involved in producing physical arguments for or against non-consummation. A report of one expert can be sufficient;   however, it is better to resort to two or more. 

 In case of discrepancy between the reports of two or more experts, the person more expert than the ordinary expert (the peritissimus), the one who is supremely expert over all others will be named to settle the question.[25] The experts also take the oath before discharging their function. They should be given the acts of the case and any other relevant documents.

 The corporal inspection of the woman will only occur if it is necessary to attain moral certitude concerning non-consummation. It can be omitted if the moral argument leads to moral certitude of the instructor. If the instructor judges that other medical questionings should be made privately, the resulting documents and certifications should be added to the acts of the case.[26]

 Publication of the acts

There should be no publication of the acts; except if the instructor or the tribunal sees that, because of the evidence submitted, a serious obstacle stands in the way of the plea of the petitioner or the exception of the respondent, he can prudently make it known to the party concerned. To the party requesting it the judge can show a document, which has been presented as evidence, which has been received, and he can set a time for the production of arguments.


The tribunal as an administrative body or the instructor must complete instructing the case super rato and then forward the acts to the diocesan Bishop together with the petition for dispensation, the comments of the defender of the bond and the voto of the tribunal/instructor.

Upon reception of the acts and other documents, the Bishop must add his personal opinion with regards to the facts of non-consummation and the favorable ground for the dispensation.[27]


The Bishop is to transmit all the acts to the Apostolic See, together with his voto and the comments of the defender of the bond. If, in the judgment of the Apostolic See, a supplementary instruction is required, this will be notified to the Bishop, with a statement of the items on which the acts are to be supplemented. If the answer of the Apostolic See is that the non-consummation is not proven from the evidence produced, then the expert in law can examine the acts of the case, but not the voto of the Bishop, in the tribunal office, in order to decide whether anything further of relevance can be brought forward to justify another submission of the petition.[28]


The rescript of dispensation is sent by the Apostolic See to Bishop. The Bishop is to notify the parties of the rescript, and direct the parish priest of the place where the marriage was contracted and of the place where the baptism was received, to make a note of the granting of the dispensation in the registers of marriage and baptism.[29]


1. A and B were married as Roman Catholics in 1994; H was still in the army, and decided they should not have children until they had a home of their own. One attempt to consummate the marriage failed. Three years later, H sought dispensation on the grounds of W's refusal to consummate the marriage.

2. Throughout the marriage, H insisted on intercourse only by coitus interruptus in spite of W's repeated protests: W's parents had been first cousins and H was determined that W should not conceive, and therefore they could not consummate their marriage and they sought dispensation.

3. D and E married, and found W was physically unable to consummate the marriage. E underwent surgery and they tried again, but were prevented by W's emotional state. H then declined to try further and D petitioned for annulment on the grounds of non-consummation.

ENDNOTESnd P had a sexual relationship until G was sent to prison. They married while he was in prison, but he rused to consummate the marriage at the time and later said he did not want to live with P even after he was r
[1]Can. 1061 §1. Matrimonium inter baptizatos validum dicitur ratum tantum, si non est consummatum; ratum et consummatum, si coniuges inter se humano modo posuerunt coniugalem actum per se aptum ad prolis generationem, ad quem natura sua ordinatur matrimonium, et quo coniuges fiunt una caro.
[2]Cfr. c. 1084 §3. Sterilitas matrimonium nec prohibet nec dirimit, firmo praescripto can. 1098.
[3] See Appendix
[4] Cfr. George Hayford Joyce, Christian Marriage: An Historical and Doctrinal Study, SHEED AND Ward, London & New York, 1933. p. 427.
[5] Cfr. c.2,Comp, I, III, xxviii-c.2, X, III, xxiii; c.7, Comp, I, III, xxviii- c.7, X, III, xxxii.
[6] Cfr. c.5 (7), Comp, I. IV, iv  “ Sane quanquam mulieri desponsate et a viro nondum cognitate liceat ad religioem transpire, aliam tamen non potes ducere in uxoem” .
[7] Cfr. c.3. Comp, II, IV, xiii- c.2, X, IV, xiii.
[8] Cfr. c.2, Comp. II., IV, ix- c.4, X, IV, xv.
[9] Cfr. c.3. Comp. I, IV, xvi- c.2, X, IV, xv, c.1, Comp., II, IV. Ix- c.3, X,IV, xv;  Cfr. George Hayford Joyce, Christian Marriage: An Historical and Doctrinal Study, SHEED AND Ward, London & New York, 1933. p. 429.
[10] Cfr. c.3, Comp., I, IV, viii,- c.3, X, IV, iii  Qiua postulasti, unum sipost sponsalia (de futuro) inter legitimas personas contracta, antequam mulier a viro traducatur, alter eorum leprae morbum incurrat, alius ad consummandam copulam compelli debeat: Respondemus quod ad eam accipiendam cogi non debet, cum nondum inter eos fuerit matrimonium consummatum.
[11] Ibid, p. 428.
[12] Cfr. c.5 (7), Comp. I, IV, iv. Quia quanvis exinde sit diversa quorundam sentential et non eadem consuetude Ecclesiae, tutuis tamen videntur, ut primum habere debeat quam secundam, cum a prima sine judicio Ecclesiae separari non debeat.
[13] Cfr. c.2, Comp. II, II, x- c.4, X, II, xix;  George Hayford Joyce, Christian, op. cit.
[14] C. 4; Comp. I IV, xvi; George Hayford  Joyce, Christian, po. Cit. p. 430.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Cfr. Ernest carparros, (ed) Exegetical Commentary on the Cod of Canon law, Vol VI/2, Wilson & lafleur, Monstreal, 2004. p. 199; SCWD, Litt. De processu super matrimonio rato et non-consummato, No. 7
[17] Cfr. c. 1963. 2 CIC/1917; O. Buttinelli, “Le procedure per lo scioglimento del vinculo matrimoniale. II processo di dispenso del matrimonio rato et non-consummato. Le face davanti al Vescovo diocesano”in I procedimienti speciali nel diritto canonico (Vatican City, 1992) p. 114.
[18]The procedure is administrative seeking a favor, not a judicial one to obtain a right
[19] SCDW,  Litt. De processu super matrimonio rato et non-consummato , Dec 1986, # 8 in Comm. 20 ( 1988). p.  80.
[20] Cfr. can. 1592.
[21] Cfr.  SCDW,  Litt , op cit. # 13.
[22] C. 1532.
[23] Loc. cit.   #11;  Cfr. cc.  1564 1561,.
[24] Cfr.. SCDW,  Litt, op. cit.  # 12
[25]  Ibid, # 20
[26] Ibid, #19
[27] Cfr. SCSDW, Litt,  op cit.  # 7
[28] Cfr. can.  1705. 1.
[29] Cfr. can. 1706
[30] These samples were extracted from an archived documents whose identities are withheld by the author  and for the sake of anonymity of  the parties involved in the said cases, their names were replaced with letters which do not even  point to their initials.

The importance of the presence of youth in catholic communities in the world cannot be over-emphasized. The undeniable fact remains that the youth in the church are the future of the church. In this regard youth formation has a significant implication for the future of the church. Attention to the young ones in the Christian community helps greatly to deepen their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ through bestowal of grace, community prayer and liturgical experiences. Therefore, negligence in the area of youth formation is tantamount to discouraging involvement of youth in the life of the church.

There are many laudable things that could be said of the indefatigable efforts the pastors are making to build the church and maintain church life; to bring the living Christ to bear on the life of the members of the Church in various parishes. However, with sincerity, much is left to be desired in the care that is rendered to the youth in some churches. There are parishes that could be used as good example, which are well ahead in youth formation and promotion of youth participation in the life of the church in varied ways, yet there are many parishes which unfortunately and virtually lack attention to the youth.

The youth need support and direction in every aspect of their lives because they are most often vulnerable and anxious in the face of increasing socio-economic problems cropping up in many countries of the world. In their search to reach the means of realizing their life dreams they need adequate direction and support from their parents as well as their respective Christian communities in order that they may not be misled through varied deceptive voices in our world today.

Youth ministry is not a new concept in the church; organized catholic outreach to youth has far and long history due to its usefulness and indispensability in the church. Canon 835 of the 1983 code clearly points out the need to exercise the sanctifying office in the church. The diocesan bishops are presented as the principal moderators, promoters and guardians of the entire liturgical life in the churches entrusted to them. In the likewise manner the priests, deacons and other members of the Christ’s faithful are mentioned as having their own parts in the same sanctifying office in the church. Married Catholics and parents have special share in this office when they live their married life in a Christian spirit and provide for the Christian education of their children.

The responsibility of providing Christian education and liturgical formation to the young ones in the church is first of all the responsibility of the parents and secondly, the responsibility of the parish churches. If the parents lack essential knowledge about the church and their catechetical grasping has been drained away with time without replenishing in that category. How can they give such education in a proper manner? ‘Nemo dat quod non habet’. The ministry of catechesis recognizes that faith development is life-long and provides appropriate contents and processes around key themes to the recipients. In this sense the parents as well as the youth need to be fed sufficiently and continually or periodically with the spiritual goods in order to deliver the “expected” in parish life.(cc.213;773-780)

In a parish where there is obvious lack of effective on-going Christian education and liturgical formation of youth, the Sunday obligation among the youth most often assumes a mechanical fashion and this reflects in the deadly passivity of youth during Eucharistic celebration. The lack of faith/liturgical formation to the youth may result in wrong dress code to Mass, chatting during the liturgy, operating of mobile phones during Eucharistic celebration, smoking outside the church while celebration of the mass is in progress, walking out of the church before the final blessing, etc.

The sharing of all the baptized in the one priesthood of Christ is the necessary key to understanding of the Second Vatican Council’s call for a full and active participation in the liturgy (SC 14). Full participation means every member of the community has a part to play in the liturgy. This, however, does not mean that everyone does everything. The young people in the church can contribute immensely to the richness of the liturgy in their own way with support and direction from parents and pastors.

The following outlined recommendations regarding promotion of youth liturgical participation and formation in general are not something unknown. The knowledge is already grasped by the pastors but the handicap hangs on their implementation.

1).Every diocese must have a “viable” diocesan structure for youth apostolate with a full time chaplain. This office may go with that of vocation.
2). Parishes must have Parish Youth Councils (P.Y.C.) responsible for youth programs/activities and coordination in the parish.
3). It would be beautiful to have at least once a week a youth mass in the parish in which authentic participation of the youth should be encouraged.
4). Creation of youth choir to animate and lead youth in the singing during Eucharistic celebration and other youth functions in the parish.
5). Church hymnals are necessary; it does not suffice to project words of liturgical songs on screen. Youth should own Church hymnal individually so that at least they can learn and sing liturgical songs even at home. This can improve singing in church.
6). The office or commission of sacred music and liturgy in each diocese can facilitate provision of liturgical songs. It should bear in mind that certain form of liturgical songs appeal most to the youth. Variety of songs especially those purposely composed for youth usage can enhance youth participation in the liturgy. Use of one song for ten continuous Sundays, for example, can inject boredom and passivity in the youth during liturgical celebrations.
7).Effective preaching of the word of God tailored to the understanding of the youth and post-baptismal catechesis for the youth.
8).Youth biblical apostolate in the parishes. (The list is not exhaustive).

There is a need to respect always the presence of the youth in the church. The responsibility of youth formation rests heavily on all parents and adult members of each community with the support and direction from the pastors. Whatever we do as a community to direct and support our catholic young ones is in a way building the future of the church. I hope this exposition and above recommendations which are not anything new will in a considerable way be a vital reminder to the duty we owe to the youth in the church.

I am scared, I am scared
The complexities of advancement
Have thrown me to my deathbed
The manipulation of the big-headed
Drag my soul into the unknown
And at quaffing- gathering they plan my extinction
I hear here and there
Atrocities of colossal sizes
And I am scared

 Construction and destruction, their engagement
Clashes of religions drive away the meaning of the divine
The Haves trample upon the Have-nots
The portfolio bearers deride the commons
I dislike the Sphinx’s gaze at my nocturnal spying
Liars multiply their number
They tread upon my sickly nerves
And I am scared

 When I blow a fuse
At the fumes they suffocate me with-disaster, catastrophe,
Yet they disgust my lessons
Rather they increase my venom
Pecuniary superiority they seek
Thus they deplete and ransack my treasuries
Flora and fauna even cry for survival
The voracity of their crave is scaring
And I am scared and I am scared.

 They know not where they go
The blind and the mute go before them
Their foolery is distilled from egoism
The breed of the greedy
And they plunge into the pool of fools
To take a dirty bath
In the confusion of misunderstanding
But I am scared and I am scared

 But I give up not on my hope.
I hope the perfect harmony from the Divine in due time
Will be restored…
And humankind will breathe
The air of love and serenity.

 Ignatius  Ayivor, SVD

A Model Citizen With a Business Model to End Poverty
t h e F l a m e Summer 2009 23
by Kevin Riel

“Our work has been greatly influenced by Peter Drucker’s insights about the importance of people in a knowledge society. His insights have helped us transform the lives of young people who were previously relegated to living the life of scavengers into knowledge workers who can shape and control their own future by learning and collaborating with others through information and communications technology.”
— Father Ben

           Peter Drucker once said: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Last fall, the Drucker School and its Institute for Advanced Studies in Leadership invited Father Benigno Beltran (or Father Ben), a Catholic priest from the Philippines, for a four-month stay to act as Leader-in-Residence. He came to Claremont to study the tenets of Drucker’s teachings on management and, with the help of Drucker students and faculty, learn how to implement them into Veritas e-Trading Network, a company he founded and heads that is doing the right things in a part of the world that desperately needs them done right.
Tondo, a northwest district of Manila – the capital of the Philippines – is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, as well as one of the
poorest and most underdeveloped. Until recently, Tondo was the location of a massive dumpsite and heavily-populated slum called “Smokey Mountain,” so named for the plumes of noxious smoke rising from mounds of compacted garbage during the hot Filipino dry season. Thousands of locals subsisted from, and lived alongside, the swollen and dangerous landfill. Scavenging for plastic bottles, metal scrap, or paper for recycling could sometimes yield enough money for a full stomach, sometimes not. Father Ben is today working with 16 parishes in Tondo. 

        Due to rallies and demonstrations led by the basic ecclesial communities, the government was convinced to transfer the trash heap and erect low-cost housing in its place. However, no matter how “low-cost” the housing, with prices of basic commodities on the rise and without an alternative way to make a living, these newly sheltered people may be forced to settle back into slums elsewhere. According to Father Ben: “Depending on who is counting, 30, 40, maybe 60 percent of the Manilan population earn up to a dollar a day –and this during a period of financial growth in the country.”This is not just a problem facing the Philippines. Large migrations of rural poor moving to urban centers and a widening disparity between rich and poor have, in various parts of the world, expanded slum growth. The United Nations estimates as many as a billion people (roughly a sixth of the world’s population) live in these makeshift communities – and the number is growing. Countless aid agencies have spent large sums of money to combat this trend, often with frustrating results.

        “The IMF and the World Bank have contributed lots of money to developing countries to help, but it doesn’t do anything because government officials are too often corrupt or incompetent,” said Father Ben. Even before Smokey Mountain had closed, Father Ben was determined to find a creative solution to the poverty crisis in his country. He wanted to empower the poor as a potential workforce and consumer base using the infrastructure of the Roman Catholic Church. Inspired by the success of Bangladeshi companies like Grameenphone and Grameen Bank – those that have found innovative ways to provide the poor with services that spur grassroots entrepreneurship and employability – and his reading of many of Peter Drucker’s works, such as
The Ecological Vision
, Father Ben is adopting their ideas for a Filipino context.

The war on poverty will not be won
unless the poor participate in the
economic activity that will provide
them with greater income.”
— Father Ben

         “The principle of Veritas is that the war on poverty will not be won unless the poor participate in the economic activity that will provide them with greater income,” he said. “Imagine Hamlet not participating in his play. That’s what is so often happening today. We are fighting poverty without engaging the principle actors. If you just give away stuff to the people, it will prolong their dependency on aid.” The objective of Veritas is to provide inexpensive, basic commodities and high-quality goods to Manila’s poor, all the while providing work for many of them. It does this by connecting poor communities with local food producers. Together, they build a cooperative network in which consumer goods are bought in bulk, stored in large warehouses, and sold to local families at a marked discount by what are called order taker and delivery officers (OTDOs). These OTDOs are themselves residents of the community in which they work (and 98 percent female). Each OTDO takes orders from 50 to 100 families who are their neighbors, thus people they know and trust and who, likewise, trust them. To become an OTDO is an honor, as they are selected by members of the community they serve. Presently, Veritas is working with some 20,000 families in Tondo, providing them with low-cost staples like rice and chicken. In the next five years, Father Ben expects that number to grow to upwards of 500,000 families, with about 5,000 OTDOs earning $400 to $500 a month. “What they might have made in the slums in a day couldn’t buy a Starbucks coffee,” said Father Ben. “Imagine having to work three days straight to buy one Starbucks coffee. Now they are doing a little better, with better prospects.” This holds true not just for fighting poverty, but the ecological crisis in the Philippines as well. Environmental sustainability is one of Veritas’s fundamental commitments. “We believe it’s possible to create wealth without destroying the Earth,” said  Father Ben.

          By dealing mainly with local producers (poor rural farmers), shipping costs and the burning of fossil fuels are concurrently reduced. Projects like the construction of a bioreactor that turns food waste into fertilizer to sell back to farmers further contributes to this effort, saving the consumer even more money and the region undue environmental burden. Incoming years, there are plans to implement new technologies that will make Veritas more green and efficient, not to mention providing serviceable skills to people with little or no education. In much the same way,
The response really was overwhelming. We decided we had to come up with a plan that, like Veritas, didn't just end with his visit, but was sustainable and

a c t i o n - o r i e n t e d

it is hoped that the principles of Peter Drucker will make

lasting contributions toward Veritas’s future success.

Initially, Father Ben wanted to come to the Drucker School

to study the work of Drucker the man: “I thought I would

just be sitting in class, learning and listening; then Dean Ira

Jackson, [Professor] Joe Maciariello, [Associate Professor]

Jay Prag, and Christina Wassenaar [director of the academic

programs at Drucker] came in.”

When faculty and administrators at the Drucker School

heard Father Ben’s story and learned about his company,

they realized the unique opportunity his presence afforded

students. Through Drucker Professor Jean Lipman-Blumen’s

Institute for Advanced Studies in Leadership – an organization

which uses research, programs, and teaching to promote a

more comprehensive understanding of leadership – Father

Ben was named the Drucker School’s Leader-in-Residence.

Said Maciariello: “Father Ben initially came to study the

work of Drucker while he was on sabbatical. And it was

amazing to me how quickly he absorbed Drucker’s teachings.

He is a Catholic priest on a mission to better the lives of

people who live in an incredibly challenging part of the world,

and desperately need it.”

“Our faculty were inspired to lend their skills in real ways

and every time we spoke to a student they said ‘What can I

do to help?’” said Wassenaar. “The response really was

overwhelming. We decided we had to come up with a plan

that, like Veritas, didn’t just end with his visit, but was

sustainable and action-oriented.”

Before the start of the 2008 fall semester, students and

alumni were invited to help make Veritas – an already

Order taker and delivery officers in action.

       “What they might have made in the slums in a day couldn’t buy a Starbucks coffee,” said Father Ben. “Imagine having to work three days straight to buy one Starbucks coffee. Now they are doing a little better, with better prospects.” functioning business – more functional. Special research teams were conceived, each to be mentored by a faculty member alongside Father Ben, and each to tackle a different problem or aspect of Veritas’s operations. The three major questions the project posed were: “Do we have it right?”; “Can the Veritas strategy be sustained?”; and “Could Veritas be replicated?” From September to December 2008, the research teams found many ways to answer these questions by helping create a more sustainable business plan, implement more efficient procedures, and inject Drucker’s management teachings right into the bloodstream of a living company. Serena Zelezny, a Drucker student in her final year, was intrigued by this opportunity.
She said: “This was a chance to take all these Drucker-inspired theories I’ve been learning,
and put them into practice.” So she joined Maciariello’s team of four students. According to Zelezny, they were asked to help out in three different ways: “We were first asked to assess the strengths and weaknesses of Veritas, then identify their visions and objectives and find creative ways to realize them; and finally to find ways to weave Drucker’s management theories into Veritas’s business model.”

       Along with her team, Zelezny was able to work with Father Ben to create scorecards and templates to help OTDOs chart their success, operationalize Drucker principles into their dayto-
day work, and to imbue entry-level employees with a sense of ownership in the success of
Veritas. “We also came up with strategies for linking suppliers, staff members, and people on the
ground with the Internet and cell phones,” added Zelezny. This effort culminated in a presentation in December in which the research teams’ results were shared with an invited
audience and the local NGO community“ It was great,” said Father Ben. “The students helped to improve the process flow, they translated our information manual into English, they created a social networking interface through Karma 411 (a social collaboration tool for nonprofits), they worked on the purchasing and accounting manual, helped with risk management solutions, and created scorecards to help OTDOs realize their potential while using Drucker-inspired management techniques. So, a lot of stuff. It was really amazing.” Even today, students continue to work with Veritas. MBA student Matt Shin is working with Maciariello to develop the Drucker Management System. “This is a management framework
that a start-up business can follow when it’s transforming into an enterprise. Veritas is a good platform to test the validity and determine the limits of the system’s generalizability, access its value as an assessment tool, and identify modifications,” said Shin.

        Veritas wasn’t the only institution to benefit from the program; the Drucker students who participated got just as much from the experience. Said Zelezny: “By the end of it, the most valuable thing for the students and I wasn’t just learning how all this Drucker theory is put into practice, but getting to see the value of this work, and how it helps people who need help. I think it was really gratifying for everyone involved.” In the future, there is potential that Veritas could be replicated in other impoverished regions in the Global South. For now, though, Father Ben is focused on helping as many people as possible in the Philippines. While Veritas’s outlook seems bright, in today’s economic climate the prospects of any
business venture are uncertain. As Peter Drucker once said: “The only thing we know aboutthe future is that it will be different.” Little did Drucker know how his influence would help usher in a different future for so many people, living so many miles from Claremont. Veritas is a different kind of company, and by partnering with a different kind of business school, what looked to be a bleak future or millions may turn out to be, well, different.


A.  Introduction

            The word “laity “ or “lay” comes from the Greek term laikos which in turn, is derived from the word laos which means “people”. The term “lay” therefore, means “belonging to the people”. However, a long historical development affected the original meaning of the term “lay” especially in its use in the political and secular spheres. The term underwent some changes in meaning and thus acquired a meaning of opposition to religion or the term “sacred”.   The term “lay” attracted an expression of attitude of separation and rejection. In general usage “lay”, as a word is applied to all those who are outside a given profession. Those who are not professional in a given profession are regarded as lay persons. Likewise in the Church, the word “laity/lay’ is applied to a category of members of the Church.

            The term “laity” developed during the 3rd century AD in order to establish the difference between common members of a local community and its leaders. This term “laity” is absent in the bible. It is not found in any Christian literature until it appeared in the letter of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians. The use of this term in the letter of Clement was applied to the Old Testament priestly hierarchy and not to the Church. In the 3rd century AD apart from Clement of Rome, other authors like Origen and Tertullian made use of the term “laity” in their writings. .

            In order to establish the identity of laity or lay faithful in the Church, it is important to examine how the Church defines who a lay person is. The Church simply sees the lay faithful as persons who are baptized into the Church, who have a secular quality and whose functions in the Church differ from those who are ordained.

           The Church has a long history with regard to the laity and their activities in the Church. There are several historical factors that undergird the treatment and position of the lay people in the Church. From the very beginning of the Church lay people participated in ecclesial life and contributed immensely to the mission of the Church. The author intends here not to give extensive historical exposition of the important roles of the laity but to highlight a representation of their active presence and the factors that affected their position in the Church through historical time. The author traces the history of the laity and their involvement as well as their position within ecclesial structures under various historical periods.

B. Early Patristic Period

            The people who were in the company of Jesus started to consider themselves as a community only after the resurrection of Christ but in a very gradual manner. Christianity became more noticeable within the Jewish arena after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 AD. The separation of Christians from Judaism was a gradual breakup because the disciples of Jesus were still going to the synagogues after the resurrection of Christ. In other words, Christianity was practised within Judaism for a period of time. Then slowly, Christianity detached itself from the structures of Judaism and began to form its own structures.

            During the first four centuries of Christianity, various ministries in the early Church became institutionalized and identification of certain major ministries in the Church gradually became a common thing in the Western and Eastern Church.

            From the beginning of the third century and the period that followed, the use of the term kleros emerged. The term referred to an established group of Christian leaders (clergy) while those who did not belong to this group were being referred to as “laity”.  Later on, these terms attracted theological import.

            It is not easy to say that by the year 325 AD, the ministries in the Church were solely reserved for the clergy or that those who were not involved in any ministry in the Church were referred to as laity. This is because during this period Christian ministry was more extensive than the leadership offered by the clergy. From the early Patristic Period till the year 325 AD, one could not say that there was a monolithic structure to Christian leadership or to Christian ministry. Moreover, it is important to note that during the first two centuries of Christianity the term “clergy” was not used specifically to refer to any person who involved himself or herself in ministry or any activity in the Church. It was only at the beginning of the third century that the term was used to refer to specific ministry and ministers.

            The term “laity” appeared for the first time in the writing of Clement of Rome. It also appeared in the writing of Clement of Alexandria as well as in that of Origen. It was only after the year 220 that the term “laity” is used more frequently. From the beginning of the third century the two terms “clergy” and “laity” became suddenly significant terms in the Church and their usage became more common.

            Incidentally, it is possible to trace the involvement of lay persons in the liturgical functions of the Church (during the early Patristic Period) from the Didache and from the writings of Clement of Rome, Justin, Hippolytus, Tertullian, and Testament of our Lord and also from the Council of Elvira (306). It is evident from the above sources that the baptized lay persons played important liturgical roles in the Church.[4]  

            The laity, during the period under investigation, could baptize the catechumens when they were in danger of death and no Church leader was present. According to Justin, the baptized Christians (not the leaders) were those who brought the gifts to the table of the Lord.
[5] He also stated in his writing that it was the baptized Christians who said “Amen” to the prayers offered by the Christian leader.[6] According to Clement of Alexandria the new people who gathered in worship was also seen as the laos. At liturgical celebrations the baptized took active part and they were differentiated from the catechumens who were not the same as the baptized. Thus, they (catechumens) were dismissed after the homily and prayers. Later, the liturgical role of the baptized lay persons in the Church became woefully diminished especially during the fourth and the fifth centuries.

C. High Patristic Period

            During the Patristic Period of the history of the Church, few lay persons seemed to have been positioned in some significant positions within the ecclesial structures. It should be stated that those few lay persons who became important figures within the Church structures did not assume important positions in the Church because of the fact that they were lay persons. It was not their lay state that influenced in any way their significant involvement within the ecclesial structures of the time. There were certain factors which influenced that. Among the factors which influenced positioning of some lay person during high patristic period are the following:

1. Those few men who had great influence in the Church during this period played extensive roles of power within the Church because of their connection to government.

2. Their social standing remained a factor that underlined their significant position in the Church. Their conspicuous wealth paved a smooth way for them to assume high positions within the ecclesial structures.

3. Those influential lay persons were highly educated in the sciences and thus were highly regarded in the Church of the time.

a. Emperor Constantine and the Church

           By the end of the year 324 AD, Constantine was acknowledged as the sole ruler of the entire Greco-Roman empire and was given the tile “Chosen One of God” because he had shown a favorable preference for the Christians and their religion.  As a result, it created a good relationship between the Christians and the government of the entire empire. However, there was no established agreement regarding Church-government relationship. From 324 to 731 AD, there was a trend toward a strong and mutual relationship between Church and government.

          The Church became an imperial Church with privileged status based on toleration. This took place under Theodosius and there emerged as a result a new dimension of competition between the significant persons of the leadership of the empire and the leaders of the Church. The ecclesiastical leaders were making moves to press the temporal leadership to suppress Greco-Roman religious practices whose practices anti-Christian yet were widely observed within the empire.

          From the time of Constantine and onwards, there was a fundamental option for positive relationship on the side of the Church and that of the empire, which in no small measure resulted into competition. This period of history of the Church, between 324 AD and 731 AD lends understanding to the positioning of the lay persons in the Church.

b. The Emergence of the Term “Ordo

          A technical term ordo emerged and was used in the Church during pre-Constantine period. This term referred to the established ecclesiastical order to which the clerics belonged. As a result of that, negative aspect of the laity reared its ugly head. During Constantine period this idea of clerical order was fully established in the Church and was introduced into the social and political structures of the Greco-Roman empire. With its introduction into the socio-political arena, the idea of clerical order gradually influenced negatively the position of the laity within both ecclesial structures and the socio- economic structures of the empire.  Hence, the status of the clerics became elevated while the position of the laity in the Church became de-valued.

            In the Frankish Church, the relationship between the Church and government became a matter of regnum et sacerdotium. The relationship of government with the Church became a relationship with the clerics of the Christian community. During the Frankish period, the lay person in the Western Church was not considered as important figure in this regnum et sacerdotium struggle and therefore was further pushed to the background and even de-positioned.[8] The Church-government relationship favored the ranking leaders of the Church, the clerics, who reserved great prestige for themselves. As a consequence, the ordinary non-ordained persons in the Church lost prestige.

c. Significant Contributions of Lay Persons to the Church

           From 324 AD to 731 AD, despite the fact that the laity was gradually reduced to a low and insignificant position in the Church, there were few lay persons who gained important positions within the ecclesial structures. Example of  some of the lay persons who were in privileged position in the Church at the time was the category  of  lay persons in the North African Church referred to as seniores laici
[9] The presence of these lay persons in that category in the North African Church was important and was greatly felt at the time. These seniores laici exercised administrative and disciplinary functions in the North African Church. They cooperated with the bishop in the administration of   temporal goods of the Church. Some of them also worked (seemingly) as judicial functionaries.  Their presence in the Church was an indication of the fact that there was a kind of new distinction between the ordinary lay people in the Church who had no important position and these seniores laici who had privileged position and ecclesiastical offices. This category of lay persons in the North African Church continued to play important ecclesial roles throughout the first part of the high patristic period.

             The seniores laici had privileged position because of their high social status as well as their high educational backgrounds. There is no historical record that can testify that these privileged lay persons made some attempt to claim a permanent position of respect for themselves. It is historically evident that their presence gradually faded away and finally disappeared from the North African Church, probably due to heavy clericalization of the ecclesial structures including the positions held by the seniores laici.

            During this period, few privileged lay persons gained powerful positions in government and consequently some of them also assumed significant positions in the Church. There were lay men who were given curial position in the Episcopal offices, especially in the curiae of the bishops of Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, Milan and Antioch.

            There was a presence of an office in the African Church called Defensores ecclesiae which literally means the “Defenders of the Church.”  This group made its appearance in the African Church around the year 400 AD and its members were mostly lay lawyers and scholars. They functioned as advocates in the socio-political arena for the needs of the Christians. The presence of the Defensores ecclesiae was initiated by the request of the imperial court to cater for the legal needs of Christians. However, the destruction of the African Churches by the Vandals brought to an end the function of Defensores ecclesiae in the African Church. Nevertheless, they continued to function in  the Roman Church but were later replaced with monks and clerics by Gregory the Great.

           Some lay persons (men and women) who were affluent contributed to the well-being of the Church in financial and material terms. In most cases, the wealth of these men and women made it possible for them to be in privileged positions within Church communities. For example, Helena, Emperor Constantine’s mother made donations to shrines in Palestine.[11] Basil the Great wrote that many lay persons bequeathed several money and assets to the Church.[12]

           One can also speak about those lay people who had high educational background and played great roles in the Church, particularly in the area of theology. For example, Didymus the Blind (313-398) became one of the important lay lecturers in the catechetical school at Alexandria. He was a teacher of both Jerome and Rufinus. He was consulted by both Anthony, the Hermit and Palladius. Another lay person who was a sophist called Asterius was granted the opportunity to preach in Syrian Churches between 331 and 335. He was also chosen to attend synods of bishops, even though there was a clear-cut prohibition against that.[13] Synesuis received episcopal ordination when he was lay person in the year 409 AD. Prior to his Episcopal ordination he was a lay theologian. His election as a bishop was influenced by his prominence in the Church.[14]

            There are many examples of lay men and women who played varying roles within the Church structures. Most of the instances of such lay involvement were due to the privileged governmental positions those lay persons had, while only a few cases were due to individual reasons.[15]

            During this period, the status of the emperor also attracted great importance. This started especially from the time of Constantine. There seemed to be a kind of competition between the emperor and the hierarchy of the Church. In addition, there was a group of lay people who distinguished themselves from other lay persons in the Church because of their high educational status, their involvement in government as well as the wealth of their families. These “special” lay persons were important in their various Christian communities.

            In the attempt to establish legitimacy to various Sees in the Church, Church leaders placed much emphasis on apostolic succession which was an idea that developed strongly in the late second century AD and onwards. The major bishops’ office or patriarchs’ office was described as “apostolic”. Moreover, other theological positions were also created during the period. At a later date, apostolic succession was gradually connected to a ‘divine institution” theory.
[16]  This, however, widened the gap between the lay and the clerics in the Church.

D.   Medieval Period

         The beginning of the Medieval Period marks the end of the Patristic Period though it is not easy to determine exactly the point in time patristic period ended. During the later part of medieval period, lay people had a great and active control over many crucial Church-related affairs.

           There was a gradual move during this period to position the emperor/king to a sacramental status in the Church. This led to finding a theological and sacramental basis or justification of this positioning of the king and later the emperor. This move however triggered a contrary process which intended to remove the theological and sacramental justification of the positioning of the king (or the emperor) and to reduce his position to lay state.

           Another move against the positioning of the king/emperor came from the bishops who asserted the clerical dominance over all the sectors of society. This also sparked off the controversy of “lay investiture” and resulted into over-clericalism in the Church. The same effects of over-clericalism made in-road into the monastic communities to the extent that monastic life became dominantly a clerical preserve. As a result, more and more monks were ordained so that the non-ordained monks became less important in the monasteries.

           It is noteworthy to mention here that the ordinary lay persons in the Church were very much deprived of educational opportunities. Education, especially in the Western Church, was reserved for certain clerics or monks and nuns and to few well-positioned imperial aristocratic individuals. Thus illiteracy was created among the lay majority. In the west, for example Latin became the sole medium of teaching and the lay people who were ignorant of it (Latin) were equally deprived of Christian literacy.

           Gradually, the laity became people without education and therefore became powerless. Such a group lacked leaders and they could not engage in any debate that could favor their positioning in the Church. As a result, the uneducated lay persons became passive hearers and spectators in the Church.

           It was during high medieval period as well as reformative period that the laity began to acquire education and they revolted with the help of their educated leaders. In that regard, it can be said that education of the lay people was the main reason for the positioning of the lay persons in the Church.

           The above mentioned factors in a great measure rendered the ordinary lay member of the Church less important in the Church as well as in socio-political world. The Church became hierarchically structured in such a way that the lay faithful had no place of importance in it. The center of this hierarchical society was regnum and sacerdotium
[17]  However, the sacerdotium began to question the divine source or divine institution of the kingship   i.e. regnum. Eventually  sacerdotium also began to regard itself as properly speaking the only institution which has its source in the divine. Therefore, sacerdotium began to see itself over and above the regnum and even as the source of regnum. This gradually developed into a struggle between the kingship and the papacy. This struggle also affected the position of the laity in the Church negatively.[18]

a. Liturgical Arena

          In the liturgical arena, the lay persons who were distinct from the monks and the clerics were in a gradual manner removed or excluded from participating actively in the liturgical celebrations of the Church. Even teaching of catechism before baptism which was an activity for the ordinary lay person in the Church was taken over by the clerics. The anointing of the sick and marriage also became mandatorily ministry of the clergy. Furthermore, the antiphonal parts of the celebration of the Eucharist became parts taken over by the monks and the clerics. The liturgy became a sole clerical and monastic function and the lay persons became the observers and listeners during liturgical celebrations.

           In addition, the liturgies became less understandable for the ordinary lay person since Latin became the common language of the liturgy. Another factor that hindered the ordinary lay persons to intelligibly grasp the meaning of the liturgy during this period was the lack of devotional literature in vernacular languages. This lack consequently contributed to the spiritual impoverishment of the lay people in Church at the time.

b. Disciplinary Arena

           As far as the discipline of the Church is concerned, the role of the laity in this arena was non-existent. The lay persons could not exert any influence in the discipline of the Church, rather the clerics took over the entire role in the disciplinary aspect of ecclesiastical life. Decision-making became the sole responsibility of the clerics. Only an insignificant number of royal personalities continued to share in some measure in ecclesiastical decision. The laity was reduced to subordinate position; the lay persons became passive listeners and followers.

c. Church Leadership Role

         Only the wealthy and noble lay persons of the time were allowed to have a share in ecclesiastical leadership. They had a share in Church leadership not because of their lay state but because of the political powers they wielded within the socio- ecclesial structure.

           The deprivation of the laity of ecclesiastical leadership role provoked a reaction from the side of the laity. The laity revolted in order to regain a rightful and deliberate voice within the Church. However, the efforts made by the laity to regain a rightful and deliberate voice were overthrown and the channels that could aid these efforts of the laity were removed and thus non-existent. All doors were closed to lay involvement in the Church leadership. Even the non-ordained regal influence was questioned by the clergy and was gradually kicked away from Church leadership in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

         Moreover, lack of education on the part of the laity also deprived them of the opportunities to participate actively in both political and ecclesiastical life. In this case, the status of the laity in the West, by the year 1000 AD was not a promising one. The laity was excluded in taking part in decision-making within socio-political and ecclesiastical affairs.

          By the year 1000 AD, there were favorable moves to position the lay persons in the Western Church. Between 1000 AD and 1900 AD intellectual, political and economic factors among others influenced and played a great role in empowering the ordinary lay persons in the Church. During this period various reforms were initiated in which all levels of society were involved and it was an indication of the fact that people of all levels of society were dissatisfied with the way Christian life and discipleship was presented. The society was yearning for gospel discipleship.

          However, the reform of Pope Gregory VII affected in a major manner the repositioning of the ordinary lay persons.  The Gregorian reform marginalized the laity with regard to conferment of ecclesiastical offices. The reform produced a counter-movement to the assertion of the role of the laity in ecclesiastical structures. This reform sought to emphasize importance of the papacy and clerical position in ecclesiastical offices and in so doing excluded the laity.

E.  Reformation and Tridentine Period

           During the sixteenth century, there were several reformations with different characteristics. The Church became fractured. The issue regarding the lay person in the Church was one of the factors that fomented these reformations. The Protestant reformers questioned and criticized the leadership of the Church mostly on the basis of discipleship, absolute gratuity of God’s grace, justification and complete adequacy of the work of Christ among others.

            The Council of Trent (1545-1563) was particularly concerned about any issue regarding the presence of the laity and their activities or role in the Church. However, the Council, apart from specific doctrinal issues it dealt with, tackled also issues bordering on finding ways to strengthen the members of the Roman Catholic  Church, whose majority was the lay members.  The aim of the Council was for the good of the entire Church. The pastoral concern of the Council of Trent indirectly concerned the non-ordained persons since good pastors could give better pastoral attention to the laity in order to make them good disciples of Christ. In this sense, the Tridentine interest was to bring about reform of the clergy and the laity.

            Some of the non-clerical members of the Church were present at the council and it was regarded as the total participation of the members of the Church at an ecumenical council, though there were some initial moves to exclude lay persons from taking part.

            One significant influence that the Council of Trent left in the life of the Church was its emphasis on the study and the use of the Bible. Trent considered clearly the bible more central to the Christian life and eventually, this Tridentine emphasis influenced the repositioning of the laity in the Church. However, the emphasis on centrality of the Bible/Scriptures in the Roman Catholic Church life received deadly blows from clerical quarters. The lay persons were seen as disqualified to make good use of Scriptures since they lacked adequate education. Some of the Council Fathers at Trent argued that the lay persons should have nothing to do with Biblical matters because they could not understand the true meaning of the Scriptures with their little education. Nonetheless, vernacular versions of the Bible were already being written at the time of Trent and a good number of lay faithful were reading the Scriptures.
[20]This Biblical renewal led some systematic theologians to investigate Christology and the meaning of the Church. As a consequence, the role of the laity became central to the understanding of the Church.

             With regard to decrees on the sacraments, Trent succeeded to enhance clerical control over the celebration of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. In other words, the laity became passive recipients of the sacraments from the ordained. Christian spirituality became centralized in the proper clerical celebration of each sacrament and the proper lay reception of each sacrament.

F. Modern Period

         There were many radical reforms and cultural changes during this period. These changes were partially influenced by the way the Roman Catholic Church viewed the clergy-laity issue. Many lay men and women were instrumental in the vast cultural and educational changes. The hierarchical and theological leadership could not understand these changes. The lack of understanding on the part of the Church hierarchy was deepened with the onset of the American Revolution (1776) and French Revolution (1789).

        During this period of revolutions, radical changes began to be felt in the Western Church. Issues bordering on social justice and personal freedom were raised. The Church leadership found itself reacting vigorously against strong and bitter anti- clericalism which accompanied the European forms of these revolutions.
[22] The Church leadership responded with anti- laicism.

        New elements of the meaning of “laity” were found in these revolutions. In the late twentieth century the new elements of the meaning of “laity” had a strong impart on the role of the lay persons in the Western Church. There was much emphasis on the inalienable rights of the individual and the issue of discipleship received renewed attention.

           The Church leadership became very defensive and it made attempts to kick against any anti- clerical move in the Church. There was also a rise of lay movements during this period and as such the struggle between the lay leadership and the clerical dominance heightened.  Catholic lay movements were strongly formed. Such movements were both local and international and they were regarded as an essential part of the Church. The members of these groups which were lay focused their attention on gospel discipleship. Hence, there was some anti-hierarchical feeling. Moreover, there was a development of a lay group “Catholic Action” whose goal is sharing in the apostolate of the hierarchy by lay people. As a result the Church hierarchy took measures to submit these movements to hierarchical control as well, to supervise their activities in the Church.

G. 1917 Code of Canon Law 

            There is no explicit definition of a lay person in the 1917 Code of Canon Law, though the Code has its understanding of a lay person. However, the activities of the lay persons in the Church were understood in contrast to the clerical functions and roles in the Church. The identity of the roles and functions of the lay persons was given only in reference to that of the clergy. 

            Canon 87 of the 1917 Code defines a person in the Church by stating that

“by baptism a human person becomes a person in the Church of Christ, with all the rights and duties of a Christian, unless as far as rights are concerned there is some obstacle impeding the bond of communion with the Church, or a censure inflicted by the Church”

            In this canon (c. 87 of 1917 Code), the predominant ecclesiology and theology of the time is reflected. The canon gives an ontological definition of a ‘person’ in the Church. Through baptism one becomes a person in the Church and this fundamental personality in the Church has an indelible character.  This character received through baptism is the ontological incorporation of a person into the Church. Once acquired a ‘personhood’ in the Church, he or she also, in a juridical sense, is a subject of rights and duties which are proper to baptized Christians.
[23] However, despite the fact that canon 83 gives a definition of a person in the Church, the canon does not make any mention of the lay state or of the difference between laity and clerics.

            Canon 107 of the 1917 Code also provides to some extent an explicit understanding of a person in the Church. By divine institution, there are in the Church clergy distinct from laity, although not all degrees of clerics are of divine institution. Both clerics and laity may be religious.

            Canon 107 canon stands out as a canon in the 1917 Code that clearly deals with clerics. It concerns the clergy and the ordering of the hierarchy, not significantly with what concerns the lay person. It can be mentioned here that canon 107 with regard to its context, makes a distinction between laity and clerics but this distinction is rather a matter of internal ecclesial ordering. Further examination of canon 107 reveals that the Church comprises of unequal members. It is regarded as an unequal society and it is divinely instituted as such. Secondly, it is clear from the canon (c. 107) that as regards distinction of power in the Church, the Church determines it between the two distinct groups of members- clerics and laity.

            It is not difficult to tell on the basis of the distinction between the two groups (clerics and laity) that the laity lacks participation or rather, are deprived of participation in the jurisdiction and they are subjects to jurisdiction and orders.  The clerics on the other hand, having received jurisdiction and orders looked on the laity as passive subjects.

            Canons 682 and 683 of the 1917 Code strengthen the distinction that is pointed out in Canon 107, between the clergy and the laity and thus present more profoundly the passivity of the lay persons. Furthermore, canon 958 of the 1917 Code  provides another aspect of  distinction between the clergy and the laity by pointing out the place and the role that the sacrament of orders allot to the clerics, making them members who are set apart by divine institution. 

H.  Vatican II Council

The period between the Modern Age and Vatican II was marked with wars in many parts of the globe as well as economic instability, social unrest, hunger, and technological advancements among others. The Church leadership at the time was somehow divided on the re-establishing the past ecclesial structure and ethos and making the Church viable and meaningful in a post-modern world.

            Vatican Council II’s ecclesiology depicts all members of the Church as People of God. It focuses on the common matrix, the fundamental equality and dignity of each baptized person in the Church. When the Council uses the term “People of God” in its document, especially in Lumen Gentium,
[25] it did not introduce a distinction between the non-ordained and the ordained, but referred to all as Body of Christ.

            The term Christifideles or Christ’s faithful is also used to indicate the commonality that exists among all disciples of Christ. This term became a preferred term in the 1983 Code of Canon Law to refer to the common discipleship of all the followers of Jesus Christ, whether lay or cleric.
[26] All the baptized-confirmed-eucharistic persons are called to share in the three-fold office of Christ and they exercise these offices in and through the specific gifts/graces God grants to each person. Another designation of the members of the Church which focuses on fundamental equality and dignity of all baptized is the priesthood of all believers (baptismal priesthood) in which all the baptized share. By the virtue of their baptism, all baptized-confirmed- Eucharistic persons participate in the three-fold mission of Christ.

            Vatican II used other terms to refer to the members of the Church. It refers to the members of the Church as “the baptized”, “mystical body of Christ” and “members of the kingdom of God”.  Apart from the terms mentioned above, there are some more preferable ones which indicate the fundamental equality of all the members of the Church, such as the “People of God” and the notion of the priesthood of all Christ’s faithful. These terms aided the favorable repositioning of the laity in the Church and their presence and role in the Church have been promoted positively so that they can assume their proper place and carry out their proper roles within the Church structures.

            Vatican II and post-Vatican II era is marked with emphasis on the role of the baptized-Eucharistic Catholics.  There is a stronger interest in the lay faithful and the role they play in the Church. The official Church leadership at Vatican II deliberately and officially initiated a renewed interest in the laity and their ministry.

I.  Ecclesiology of Vatican II Council 

            The Vatican II Council’s definition of the laity is based on its ecclesiology. Among the images of the Church used by Vatican II Council that favors the positive definition of the laity is the image of the Church as the People of God.  The Church is reflected upon as the people of God, as a priestly and sacramental community. The lay persons are part of those who belong to the people of God and who do not have functions and ministries related to the sacrament of orders and for that matter do not belong to the clergy.

            Vatican II gives a new understanding of who a lay person is in the Church. The newness of this understanding is shown in its contribution which concerns the development of the functional distribution which does not conflict with the 1917 Code of Canon Law. Secondly, the development of the concept of Christifideles in a great measure provides a positive image of the meaning of baptismal person. The concept of Christifideles includes all members of the Church, be they lay or clerics.

            It is important to understand that no one is baptized into the Church as a cleric or as a lay person.  The fourth chapter of the document Lumen Gentium emphasizes the importance of the baptismal character of the lay person in the Church. The dignity of the lay Christian lies in his or her baptism. All baptized persons became members of the Christ’s faithful. No one who is baptized is baptized into a lay state and then some later became cleric or religious. There is nothing like that. To be a lay, cleric or religious is an expression of different states and conditions of life that the individual members assume in their response to the baptismal call to grow in holiness. 

           When one talks about the ‘baptized’ one talks about all the Christ’s faithful or all the members of the Church, because it is by virtue of baptism or reception into the Church that one becomes a member of the Church. Vatican II Council acknowledges the equality of dignity and of action which is directed to the building up of the Body of Christ and doing of the mission of Christ in the world. Distinction between the laity and the clerics does not in any way disrupt the unity of the Body of Christ.
[28] Baptism is the common denominator of all disciples of Christ and for that matter all the members of the Church, lay and clerics or religious are one in vocation and equal in dignity[29]

            The Vatican II document, the Dogmatic Constitution, gives us a typological description of who lay person is in the Church. It defines the laity as follows:

Laity is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in holy orders and those in the state of religious life specially approved by the Church. These faithful are by baptism made one body with Christ and are constituted among the People of God; they are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly functions of Christ; and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world.

            One cannot say that he finds a definition but rather a typological description of the laity. It is evident from the description one finds in Lumen Gentium no. 31 that the description offered though favors the laity is rather a negative one, because the definition is given in opposition of the clergy and religious. The laity being regarded as those who are not ordained and not members of the religious institutes.

J.  1983 Code of Canon Law

         The 1983 Code’s understanding of the Church is connected to the understanding of Christifideles and also the understanding of the term “laity” in the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium.
[31] The Code made use of the ecclesiology of Vatican II. With regard to dealing with the laity, the Code draws from two sources; it draws upon the 1917 Code because there are references in the Code which are parallel to the 1917 Code. For example, canon 87 of the 1917 Code reflects in canon 96 of the 1983 Code. In these two parallel canons, we have the concept of personhood in the Church: reception of personhood through baptism and acquisition of juridical rights and duties.[32]

          The 1983 Code of Canon Law deals with the members of the Church in Book II under the title “People of God”. It  gives a common matrix of all the members of the Church when it describes them in canon 204 that Christ’s faithful are those who are incorporated in Christ through the sacrament of baptism and they are constituted the people of God. 

            In canon 207§1 the 1983 Code gives a definition or rather a typological description of the laity. “By divine institution, among Christ’s faithful there are in the Church sacred ministers, who in law are also called clerics, the others are called lay people”.
[33] This calls to mind the fact that though all the Christ’s faithful or the people of God are equal as far as membership in the Church is concerned (and have the same dignity), there are some distinctions among them based on functionality. Apart from the laity, there are the clerics and the religious who are drawn from both groups- clerics and laity. 

            The 1983 Code spells out the obligations and rights of all Christ’s faithful in Book II, Title I and separately deals with the obligations and rights of the laity in Title II of the same Book II. Therefore, apart from the duties and rights of all Christ’s faithful, the lay faithful have their particular duties and rights that correspond to their lay state. Canons 224 - 231 deal specifically with the obligations and rights of the laity.

           The enumeration of duties and the rights of the lay faithful is a pointer to the fact that the lay people in the Church are not passive members but are all called to share actively in the mission of the Church according to their respective condition.

 K.  Conclusion

          The history of the lay faithful and their activities in the Church over the years shows that the lay person’s status and role underwent negative treatment. However, the shift in the understanding of lay people in the Church has favored lay participation in the life and mission of the Church, the Vatican II, as legally expressed in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, has opened the avenue for the lay faithful in the Church to share in the ministry of the Church. Lay persons who are suitable can now be admitted to exercise certain ecclesiastical offices and functions.

Ignatius Ayivor, SVD

[1] Cfr. E.D. Lavender, “Origins of lay/Clerical Terminology”, Theology Digest 36: 2 (Summer, 1989), p 120; L. Longobardo, “II laicato nella chiesa antica”, Asprenas: Rivista di Science Teologiche 34:2 (June, 1987) pp. 132-143.
[2]Cfr.  K.B. Osborne, “Lay Ministry in the Roman Catholic Church: Its History and Theology”, Paulist Press, New York 1993, p 120.
[3]Cfr. E.D. Lavender, op. cit.; L. Longobardo, “II laicato nella chiesa antica”, Asprenas: Rivista di science Teologiche 34:2 (June, 1987) pp. 132-143.
[4] Cfr. K B. Kenan, op. cit. p.157.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7]  Cfr. E.D. Lavender, “Origins of lay/Clerical Terminology”, Theology Digest 36: 2 (Summer, 1989), p 120; L. Longobardo, “II laicato nella chiesa antica”, Asprenas: Rivista di Science Teologiche 34:2 (June, 1987) pp. 132-143.
[8] Cfr. K. Osborne, op. cit., p. 171.
[9] Cfr. K.B. Kenan, op. cit. p. 184; W.H.C. Frend, “The seniors Laici and the Origins of the Church in North Africa”, in Journnal of Theological Studies, 12 (1961), pp. 280-284. ;  P. Canon, “Les ‘seniores laici’ de l’Eglise africain, in  Revue international des Droits de l’Antiquite, 6 (1951), pp 7-22.
[10] Cfr. K. Osborne, op.cit, p. 187
[11] Ibid. p.192.
[12] Ibid.; Basil the Great, In divites, 7.39. PG.  35,880.
[13]Cfr. K. Osborne, Ibid,  p.193.
[15] Ibid, p.190.
[16]Cfr. K. Osborne, op.cit., p. 197
[17] The king and his entourage form the “regnum” and the Pope or the bishops and his entourage formed the “sacerdotium”. Those outside these circles were relegated to the background in all sectors of Church life as well as socio-political arena. The kingship and the papacy/episcopacy were seen as divinely instituted.
[18] Cfr. K.B. Osborne, op.cit., p.. 231
[19] Cfr. K. Osborne, op.cit., p. 394.
[20] Cfr. K. B. Osborne, op.cit.  p. 440.
[21]Ibid,  p.441.
[22] Ibid.  p.463.
[23] Cfr.  A. Prew-Winter, “Who is a Lay Person?”  in The Jurist, Vol. XLVII, 1987. p 52.
[24] Cfr. A. Prew-Winter, op.cit, p 53.
[25] Cfr. LG 11
[26] c. 204.
[27] Cfr. W. Zauner, “Laity and priest- One Church” in  TD 36: 2 Summer, 1989, p. 129
[28] Cfr. S. Holland, “Equality, Dignity and Rights of the laity” in The Jurist 47, 1987, 103-128, p. 115.
[29] Cfr. K. B. Osborne, “The Meaning of Lay, Laity and Lay Ministry” in TD 36:2 Summer, 1989, p. 113.
[30] Cfr. LG, 31.
[31] Ibid
[32] Cfr.. A. Prew-Winter, op.cit., p 62
[33] LG, .9

By Ignatius Ayivor, SVD
Be holy as your Heavenly Father is holy. Mtt. 5: 48
       The love of God is fully revealed once again tonight when we gather together to rejoice at the birth of His Son, the Word made Flesh. Let us raise our hearts and minds to God who brings salvation to us by sending our Lord Jesus Christ to dwell among us. Our God does everything in a beautiful and wonderful way. Thus, He shows us His love in a mysterious way.  The love of God radiated to us individually at this feast of the birth of Christ. My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, I invite you to rejoice because a God-man babe is given unto us. A son is born to us to bring us a blissful rest from our worries and anxieties.

       The people that dwelt in darkness have seen a great light. God has restored our dignity as his children. When the world became confused and discouraged and did not know which path to take to reach salvation, God sent His Only begotten Son to rescue us from sin and damnation. 

      God has done a great thing for us. How can we respond to this marvelous love? Let us be glad and with joyful hearts praise our God who dwells with us. Hail Jesus, the new born king. You have come to us in a humble manner; born in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes.  Touch our hearts at this moment, Lord and let our hearts feel the joy of your presence here and now. Remove from our hearts all that ignore your presence and your love. Make our hearts a place of your dwelling. Let us open our hearts, my dear friends, so that the babe Jesus can be born into our hearts. Let us become the receptacles of His loving presence. We should be grateful to our God because unto us a son is given: and the government is upon his shoulder: and he is called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace (Is 9: 6).

My dear friends in Christ, the grace of God that brings salvation has been given all of us. We are empowered to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, we are called upon to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. Let us .look for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.

        As the angel said unto the shepherds, the Lord is saying to you “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy”.  And as the angels of a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest,  peace to His people on earth”, let us also join our voices with theirs and sing the praises of our God. Let us remind ourselves that God loves us so much. His love will continue to assure us of His presence, now always.

.         Let us discard any unnecessary thoughts from our minds and think of worshipping the Lord, the new born king.  Consider the shepherds who leave everything they own, their flock, in the bush and go to adore Jesus first before anything else. Or the magi, the wise men from the East who leave the security of their homeland and make a long and dangerous journey to Bethlehem just to worship the new-born Jesus and give him gifts.

       Let us rejoice because the prince of peace is in our midst. Our world lacks peace. The prince of peace will give us the right signal for peace. Let us pave a way for the peace of Christ to remain in our hearts and in our families. Lord, give us your peace so that we can break the shell of unforgiveness in our hearts and be reconciled with one another in peace.

       No matter our circumstance of life the new born king, the prince of peace has come to stay with us; He is Emmanuel, God is with us. He dwells with us not only in the tabernacle of our chapel, but also in our hearts and in our families; not only in palaces but also in the poverty of slums. He dwells not only in the healthy but also in the sick people who lay in hospital beds. He is with us not only when we are happy, but also in times of sorrow. In every moment he dwells with us so that he can transform any situation as a place of His glory.

      My dear brothers and sisters, let us rejoice always and let the power of God’s love be experienced in our relationship with one another. Let us share this love and this joy of Christmas with everyone we encounter in our lives. I wish you all Merry Christmas.

 Fr. Ignatius Ayivor, SVD
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