From the July 14, 1962 issue of America, a prescient call for the laity to take a greater role in church life:
As Catholic school enrollment in the United States moves toward the six-million mark, and public school students in Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes move toward a four-million record, we realize more keenly than ever how necessary it is to draw more of the laity into religious education.
Necessity imposed by numbers, however, is only approximate reason for turning to the laity. The command of our Lord—”Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19)—has always included the laity. St. Peter made that clear when he told the people: “You . . . are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people, that you may proclaim the perfections of Him who has called you out of darkness . . . ” (I Pet. 2:9).
From St. Peter to Pope John XXIII the teaching remains the same. And today Pope John has put it into very practical terminology. Cardinal Cicognani, papal legate to the Inter-American CCD Congress in Dallas, last year, revealed that the Pope had explicitly instructed him to urge increased participation of the laity in their Christ-given mission with this motto: “The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in every parish.” The CCD, as its constitution declares, is essentially a work of the laity, and the motto that Pope John gave was, in fact, a reminder of a law that has been on the books for some time (ever since the codification of Canon Law in 1918)—in Canon 711, par. 2. Continue reading