Laity Has a Role in Taking Gospel Into the World, Pope Says

Stresses Importance of Being Rooted in a Profound Spiritual Life

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ROME, JULY 11, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II reminded the laity of its responsibility to "humanize" the world and shed the light of the Gospel on numerous social situations.



The Pope expressed this conviction in a message to the Vatican foundation "Centesimus Annus -- Pro Pontifice." The message was published last Saturday, for the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the foundation, whose members the Holy Father met in audience.

The foundation "represents a singular response to the invitation I made in the encyclical, by which it is inspired, to promote knowledge and application of the social doctrine of the Church," the papal message said. The encyclical "Centesimus Annus" was dated May 1, 1991.

"The permanent circumstances that the contemporary world suffers and the deplorable conditions of underdevelopment in which too many countries find themselves" demonstrate "the permanent timeliness of the social doctrine of the Church" and the need "to start from a just perspective," the Holy Father said.

This perspective is centered on "the truth of man, which is discovered by reason and confirmed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which proclaims and promotes the authentic dignity and natural social vocation of the person," he said.

In this connection, John Paul II explained that the Church's social teaching offers guidelines for the "promotion of human rights, for the protection of the family, for the development of authentically democratic and participatory political institutions, for an economy at the service of man, for a new international order that guarantees justice and peace, and for a responsible attitude toward creation."

This calls for the conviction that "only new men can make all things new," he said. And "the social commitment of lay Christians can be nourished and be consistent, tenacious and courageous only if it is rooted in profound spirituality, namely, in a life of close union with Jesus."

It is a means for the laity to be able to "express the great theological virtues -- faith, hope and charity -- through the exercise of the difficult responsibility of building a society less removed from the great provident plan of God."

The Pope congratulated the foundation on its anniversary and the development of study and formation initiatives, among which he highlighted a master's in social doctrine, promoted in cooperation with the Lateran University.

According to its statutes, the foundation aims to "collaborate in the dissemination of human, ethical, social and Christian values, set out in the social doctrine of the Church and, in particular, in the encyclical 'Centesimus Annus.'"

The group's Administrative Council is made up of seven lay members, one of whom is appointed by the Holy See, and the other six by the vote of council members. The current president and legal representative is Italian Count Lorenzo Rossi di Montelera.

Those who share the foundation's ends may request to become members. The group's e-mail address is centannus@foundation.va.