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The Role of the Laity in the Catholic Church

9 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Being a Devout Catholic

The Catholic Church operates on a hierarchy with the pope at the top and laity at the bottom. Despite the bottom-rung status, the laity compose the majority of the Church.

Even though not of the clergy, lay people in the Catholic Church are still expected to strive to embody the teachings of the Church and to share the gift of the Catholic faith; lay men and women should be active members of their own parishes and in the greater world. Lay people can act as everyday ministers of the faith, bringing the principles of Christianity and Catholicism to work, school, and home.

Lay people can also take part in some of the sacred rituals of the Church by being altar servers, lectors, and lay ministers who can help distribute the Holy Eucharist during Mass and bring Holy Communion to shut-ins and those in hospital.

Members of the laity belong to the same religion and reap the same benefits through living a life of faith and devotion as do members of the clergy, even if they occupy a lower rung in the sacred hierarchy.

As for clergy, their job is to guide, nurture, and guard the laity — the clergy is the shepherd of the flock that is the laity.

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