Date of Award

Spring April 2015

Access Restriction

Campus Access only Research Projects

Degree Name

Master of Arts



School or College

Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Brett C. Hoover


Christianity was founded without a major distinction between “clergy” and “lay” members. As the church grew the need for structure, organization and administration advanced and elevated the position of the clergy and diminished the role of the laity. Recalling practices of the earliest church the Second Vatican Council sought to promote the laity to their proper place as “priest, prophet and king” and reasserted that the sensus fidelium of all the faithful continues to be rooted in their sense of faith as revealed by God and in their baptism. This concept establishes the magisterial competence of all the church, including the laity. The current priest crisis provides the opportunity for the laity, including lay ecclesial ministers, to become, as Pope Benedict says, “’co-responsible’, for the Church’s being and action.” What can be done to tighten the bond between clergy and laity and help to prepare for shared leadership? How can we embrace the visions of ALL the baptized and be open to the fulfillment of each person’s calling? In this paper I offer three proposals for diocesan consideration to advance lay/clergy relations and develop greater acknowledgement and appreciation for each other’s gifts and charisms.