An Examination of the Foundation and Activation of the Cooperation of Laity and Pastors in the Munus Docendi in Catechesis according to Canon 776
An Examination of the Foundation and Activation of the Cooperation of Laity and Pastors in the Munus Docendi in Catechesis according to Canon 776Zabrina R. Decker, J.C.D.Director: Rev. Robert J. Kaslyn, S.J., J.C.D.Canon 776 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law establishes the obligation of the pastor to provide catechetical formation and responsibility of laity to cooperate in such formation. This study uniquely focuses on the foundation and activation of the cooperation of the lay Christian faithful with pastors in catechesis. Such cooperation derives from baptism (both the right to witness to the gospel message [c. 211] and the correlative obligation of suitable preparation to exercise that right [c. 229]). Chapter one establishes baptism as the canonical foundation for incorporation, personhood and catechetical responsibility in the Church. From this constitutive basis, chapter two presents the ecclesiology of the sanctifying, governing and prophetic (catechetical) mission of the Church for both laity and pastors. Conciliar, ecclesial and canonical definitions of catechesis are the focus of chapter three. Chapter four explores the definition of the lay Christian faithful as derived from their ontological status in baptism. This definition provides the specific synthesis required for both unifying the preceeding chapters and setting the basis for the final chapter. Chapter five promotes cooperation of laity with pastors through encouragement of a basic shared formation and responsibility in their canonical mission of catechesis. The method used is a conciliar-juridical comparative analysis employing the 1917 and 1983 Codes of Canon Law to illustrate the foundation for catechetical cooperation between laity and pastors while respecting both the common priesthood of all the faithful and the sacramental priesthood. Special focus is given to the instruction Ecclesiae de mysterio and the publication of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord. The study contributes to the catechetical canonical mandate found in canon 776 regarding both the ontological obligation of the pastor for the catechetical mission and the active cooperation of laity in catechesis through a focus on shared formation so as to create a common catechetical language. Significantly, the study provides and unifies the theological and canonical basis for participation in the Church's salvific mission (c. 225), the necessity of proper formation (both obligation and right; c. 229), and particular application to the means by which the laity cooperate in catechetical formation.
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