Josemaría Escrivá Obras

One characteristic of all Christian life, no matter what form it takes, is the 'dignity and freedom of the children of God'. Throughout your teaching, you have insistently defended the freedom of the laity. To what exactly do you refer?

I refer precisely to the personal freedom of every layman to take, in the light of principles given by the Church, all the concrete, theoretical or practical decisions which he considers most appropriate and most in agreement with his own personal convictions and aptitudes. For example, decisions referring to different philosophical or political views, to different artistic or cultural trends, or to the problems of professional and social life.

All those who exercise the priestly ministry in the Church should always be careful to respect the autonomy which a Catholic layman needs, so that he will not find himself in a position of inferiority in relation to his fellow laymen, and can carry out efficiently his own apostolic task in the middle of the world. To attempt the opposite, to try to instrumentalise lay people for ends which exceed the proper limits of our hierarchical ministry, would be to fall into a lamentably anachronistic clericalism. The possibilities of the lay apostolate would be terribly curtailed; the laity would be condemned to permanent immaturity and above all, today especially, the very concept of authority and unity in the Church would be endangered. We cannot forget that the existence among Catholics of a true diversity of criterion and opinion in matters which God has left to the free discussion of men is in no way opposed to the hierarchical structure or the unity of the People of God. On the contrary, it strengthens them and defends them against possible impurities.

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