Priests cannot be replaced by the laity, Pope Benedict explains

In an audience this morning with bishops visiting from Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI advised them on how to respond to the lack of priests, emphasizing that the shortage cannot be solved by having lay people substitute for the clergy. The Holy Father began his address to the Brazilian prelates by pointing out the difference between the identity of priests and the laity. While the lay faithful share in the “common priesthood,” they are not ordained ministers of Christ and His Church. “Hence,” the Pope cautioned, “it is important to avoid the secularization of clergy and the ‘clericalization’ of the laity.” Fulfilling the lay vocation, he explained, involves working to “give expression in real life – also through political commitment – to the Christian view of anthropology and the social doctrine of the Church.”