Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Time for laity to take charge

Time for greater role for laity in church affairs

Today one of the main grouses of our Catholic laity is the unsatisfactory way the parishes are administered. Ask any parishioner and he will only be too happy to vent his frustrations at the way his parish is run. In fact there is hardly any professionalism in the administration of a parish and this has given rise to the many problems that we encounter in the church.

These include lack of transparency and accountability in almost all aspects of the running of the church. The people are not consulted on any major decisions affecting their parish. Money is collected but its expenditure not fully accounted for. There are proper systems in place to offer assistance to those in need especially during emergencies and crisis.

The church as a whole is riddled with so many scandals; financial, sexual, racial and abuse of power. In most parishes a handful of people who are close to the parish priest appear to control the administration of a few thousand parishioners. The priest is often aloof and not people-friendly and the common man can hardly approach or confide in him.

The highly sophisticated and materialistic living has placed tremendous pressure that many are unable to cope. The spiritual and physical needs of the modern man are closely inter-twined that they are inseparable and the modern church has to take care of the individual as a whole. Unlike in the past, rituals that are fuels for the soul, alone are not enough but a comprehensive care that includes spiritual and physical needs of the people.

Society has advanced to the extent it has become too complex for our priests alone to administer the parishes. With a tremendous increase in the educational status of the people, just the priest alone cannot fulfill their expectations and demands. Furthermore he does not have the time to effectively run the parish without compromising his pastoral care for which he is trained and which should be his priority.

It is time for the laity to have a greater role and say in the administration of the church. They have people who are trained in all the disciplines to effectively manage the various aspects of the day to day running of the church; finance, maintenance, Christian education, healthcare, financial and moral support for those in need, counseling and the list is endless. It is not that the laity want to but they have to due to the increasing demands of the people today.

Is the laity ready to take over the management of the church? I do not think they are yet are but concerted efforts must be made by the bishops, priests and the people at large to prepare themselves for the task. It may not be easy but we must start now before we lose more of our members to other denominations that are better managed. After all one of the main slogans adopted by our church is “We are the Church” and it is time that we begin to realize that slogan.

Dr.Chris Anthony