Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Since Vatican II the Catholic Church has been faced with a changing attitude concerning the role and proper activity of the laity. Both women and men are claiming a greater sphere of influence, including areas that had previously belonged exclusively to the ordained. There is growing awareness that the Church fulfills its mission completely only when laity and hierarchy live out their call to holiness in mutuality. Practical manifestations of this awareness include, among other things, the increased liturgical involvement of the laity, social action groups, and increased awareness of the laity's role as Spirit-filled People of God and Body of Christ. For any one group to claim a privileged status as the 'chosen' or 'sacred' ones in the Church is misleading, for despite a distinction in roles and functions there is only one body of Christ made up of both lay and clerical persons. The need to keep order requires some type of leadership, a role largely filled by the ordained, although the laity do have some opportunities for official leadership roles. But there is also the need to minister to one another through evangelization, sanctification, and healing, quite apart from the ordained leadership positions in the Church. These actions draw on one's power to act sacramentally. "Without denying a distinctive role of liturgical leadership, the notion of acting sacramentally is broader and points to the presence of the divine saving power in any Christian individual or community whose actions flow from faith and discipleship."