| Year 2000 Canonical Studies, pp. 81-122
(Fr. Andrews Thazath Archdiocese of Trichur)
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In the Apostolic Exhortation Christfideles laici of 30 December 1988, Pope John Paul II prophetically said “The third millennium will be of the lay people ”. Duringand after the Second Vatican Council there have been several discussion on the dignity, role and rights of the laity in the Church. Since the future of the Church in the new millennium depends on the role play of the laity, it I very appropriate that the Canon Law Society of India took up the subject Role of the Laity’ for its discussion during the Great Jubilee Year Conference.

The executive committee of the Canon Law Society of India assigned the present author to make a study on the “Protection of the Rights of the Laity”. But during the preparation of this paper it was understood that there has already been different studies on this subject in the past years . Therefore I thought of studying the subject from a different angle, namely to study how and when the rights of the laity are curtailed. Hence the main scope of this study is to give the important occurrences of the denial of the rights of the laity after giving a general sketch from a legal point of view about the rights of the laity and their protective measures.


1. The specificity of the laity

The term “laity” derives from the Greek term laikos and refers to a person who does not belong to the specific category of those who govern, but is a member of the common people The second Vatican Council has clearly articulated the specific vocation and mission of the laity in the following words:

“The term ‘laity’ is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in holy orders and those who belong to a religious state approved by the Church. That is, the faithful who by baptism are incorporated into Christ and integrated into the People of God are made sharers in their particular way in the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ, and have their own part to play in the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world” (LG 31).

“By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will. … It pertains to them in a special way so to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are closely associated that these may always be effected and grow according to Christ and mat be able to the glory of the Creator and Redeemer (LG 31 § 2).

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