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Voices Online Edition
Advent 2000
Volume XV, No. 4

Pontifical Council for the Laity holds International Congress

Witnesses of Christ in the Third Millennium was the title of a Jubilee Congress of Catholic Laity held in Rome's Domus Pacis November 25 to 30, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

Cardinal James Francis Stafford, president of the Council, said that the Congress represents "a very special occasion for the laity to explain the faith that must be witnessed and communicated in all environments, geographical areas and life situations of the modern world".

Bishop Stanislaw Rylko, secretary of the PCL, indicated that the Jubilee of the Apostolate of the Laity "intends to remind all lay faithful of the roots of their vocation and mission as baptized Christians". Thanks to Vatican Council II, "the sense of shared responsibility in the Church has been invigorated. Many lay men and women are working in the front line of the new evangelization". Nonetheless, he added, "challenges are not lacking". For example: "How can we announce and bear witness to Christ in today's secularized society? ... How can we assist the laity to live their faith and their personal relationship with God in ordinary conditions of family life, professional life and social commitment?"

Delegates from episcopal conferences, representatives of lay groups, and ecclesial movements were present at the congress, and, for the first time, representatives of the laity from former communist countries (Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, Ukraine and Georgia).

The Congress began with a message from the Holy Father and the presentation of three reports on November 25, followed by a "jubilee vigil" presided over by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, president of the Central Committee of the Jubilee.

On Sunday, November 26, the solemnity of Christ the King, the Pope celebrated Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the Jubilee of the Apostolate of the Laity. Later, in the church of the catacombs of Saint Domitilla, there was a jubilee celebration "in memory of the martyrs".

During the rest of the Congress there were reflections on vocation, mission and formation of the laity, which included roundtable discussions with founders of ecclesial movements, leaders of international associations of faithful, and university professors participating.

Among the presenters was Mary Ann Glendon, who headed the Vatican delegation at Beijing. (Read her address here.)

The Congress closed November 30 with remarks from Cardinal Stafford and the presentation of the report: "Which lay faithful for the third millennium?" prepared by Cardinal Bernard F. Law, archbishop of Boston, MA, and Guzman Carriquiry of the PCF.

(Info source: Vatican Information Service)

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