His Holiness Pope Francis has instituted the new lay ministry of catechist through the issuance of the apostolic letter "Antiquum Ministerium" (Ancient ministry) with the intention to respond to an urgent need for the evangelization of the modern world.
What draws attention about the newly instituted ministry of catechist is that it is designed for lay people who have a particular call to serve the Catholic Church as a teacher of the faith.
This measure opens the way for all the faithful who want to serve the Catholic Church through all means to fulfill their wish of serving the Church of God, and to help promote the engagement of the laity in the Church's extended services. It, furthermore, highlights the importance of the role conducted by lay men and women who can in this way discover the beauty, goodness, the truth and the divine impression of the Christian faith.
With this encyclical widening the role of lay Catholics to help in the Catholic Church’s mission of spreading the Gospel, it stipulates that Catholic lay men and women who feel called to cooperate in the work of catechesis should be recognized for their willingness to help in the Church’s mission.
The presence of catechists is all the more urgently needed today as a result of the increasing awareness of the need for evangelization in the contemporary world and of the rise of a globalized culture.
In this regard, Pope Francis said, it is “the task of pastors to enrich the life of the Christian community through the recognition of lay ministries capable of contributing to the transformation of society through the ‘penetration of Christian values into the social, political and economic sectors’.”
In reaction to the institution of the new lay ministry of catechist, Editorial Director for the Vatican Dicastery for Communication Andrea Tornielli said, "The institution of a ministry by the Church makes clear that the person invested with that charism performs an authentic ecclesial service to the Christian community for the growth of their own life and as a witness of faith. The institution of a lay ministry is therefore not meant to “clericalise” the laity. On the contrary, it is hoped that this further step will help to counter the return of clericalism so often publicly denounced by Pope Francis who, having often reminded us of the role of the holy people of God, the role of grandmothers and mothers in the transmission of the faith, has implemented the words of Pius XII concerning “the fathers and mothers of families, those who are godparents through Baptism” called upon to expand “the Kingdom of the Divine Redeemer.”
With the world frantically going through serious stages of instability caused by wars and violence, as well as the ramifications of the Corona pandemic represented in unemployment, poverty and loss of hope for a bright future, it is due time to ensure the penetration of the divine and sublime Christian values into the social, political and economic sectors. Such a step will definitely help create healthy and stable societies that strive to eliminate social ailments.
It is due time for lay men and women to seriously consider this apostolic letter and do their best to respond to the urgent need for the evangelization of the modern world.