55 Jurist 1 (1995)
The Exercise of the Power of Governance by Lay People: State of the Question

handle is hein.journals/juristcu55 and id is 9 raw text is: THE JURIST 55 (1995) 1-92

THE EXERCISE OF THE POWER OF GOVERNANCE
BY LAY PEOPLE: STATE OF THE QUESTION
JOHN P. BEAL*
Power: what is it, where does it come from, who has it, and how do
they get it? These and other questions related to power have been raised
and debated in the Church at least since the sons of Zebedee, or their
mother2 tried to stake claim to the choice seats at table when Jesus came
into his glory. Questions about power in the Church-its nature,
source(s), possession, and modes of transmission-have been the sub-
ject of heated debate at least among canonists during and since the
Second Vatican Council. In the post-conciliar debate sacred power has
emerged as both a fundamental constitutional issue that touches on the
theological nature of the Church and an eminently practical issue that
determines the extent to which various persons can participate in the
life and mission of the Church.
All participants in the post-conciliar debate readily acknowledge that
one of the most important contributions of the Second Vatican Council
was its teaching on the dignity of lay people who, in virtue of baptism,
in their own way share the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of
Christ, and to the best of their ability carry on the mission of the whole
Christian people in the Church and in the world (LG 31). The council
noted the secular character that is proper and peculiar to the laity
(LG 31) and emphasized their particular responsibility to make the
Church present and fruitful in those places and circumstances where it
is only through them that she can become the salt of the earth (LG 33).
Nevertheless, the council also made it clear that lay people also have an
important role to play within the Church.
Besides the apostolate that belongs to absolutely every Chris-
tian, the laity can be called in different ways to more immediate
cooperation in the apostolate of the hierarchy .... They have,
* J.C.D. (The Catholic University of America, 1985). Assistant Professor of
Canon Law, The Catholic University of America.
' Mk 10: 35-45.
2 Mt 20: 20-28.

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