- Jan 23, 2021
At the close of a high-stakes meeting last week, bishops from throughout Africa have said the event was not only a sign of hope, but they doubled down on their commitment to evangelization, specifically highlighting the role of laypeople, including youth and women.
Since the beginning of his pontificate, one of the things Pope Francis has advocated for most vocally is a less clerical Church with a greater involvement of laypeople. In this spirit, a Rome conference has higlighted the increasing number of laypeople being put forward for sainthood, focusing on six concrete examples.
Accountability and engaging lay people are key in addressing the sexual abuse crisis in the Church, an Italian canonist told the bishops.
A lay Catholic association founded by an unlicensed exorcist in the small Sicilian town of Aci Bonaccorsi is under scrutiny after its leader was arrested for sexually abusing at least six underage girls. A Crux investigation led to the further discovery of ‘bizarre happenings’ in the local church of Lavina for more than 40 years, where the lay group was able to act largely without any ecclesiastical or governmental oversight.
Through the years the Vatican has developed strong rules and regulations to fight sex abuse in the clergy, but two recent sex abuse scandals in Catholic lay associations show that in these cases the Church is still very slow to respond and that often local bishops fail to exercise the necessary monitoring.
Anne Donahue is one of an estimated 40 Stephen ministers at Sacred Heart, which is one of 130 congregations in the state that have adopted the Christian support program. For the last three years, Donahue and others have been paired up with people who long for another person to talk to. Many of these care receivers have lost a spouse or a child, have endured a divorce or are suffering from a debilitating illness. Stephen ministers meet, typically weekly, with the care receivers and listen to their concerns.