The editorial in the Catholic Times introduces us again to these facts and reminds us that in a pluralistic society we will have many more lay Catholics getting involved in theology and taking their rightful place within the Church.
The winner this year of the Korean Catholic Scholastic Award went to a professor who has been working in the field of history for the last 30 years. This is the second time that the award went to a layperson.
Within the Catholic Church in Korea we see the laypersons’ maturity coming very much to the fore: not only in scripture, history and ecclesiology but also in other related fields of special interest to lay theologians. The laity are not receiving much support, however, from the Church, especially in preparing an encouraging atmosphere for lay theologians.
With the deepening of spirituality, they will help to evangelize our society and also carry out the mission to go out to the rest of Asia and the world. Support for promoting spiritual maturity and theological studies will be necessary if they are not to flounder. Without this proper pursuit of learning and mature spirituality, progress will be building a house of cards.
The presentation of scholastic awards is a sign of growth. It enables the Church to acknowledge those who are prominent in their field of study and to encourage others in their study. However, it is not sufficient to give awards if we don't also support our lay theologians; this must be given more attention and support by the Church. The editorial recommends a permanent research institute that will contribute to the formation of lay theologians and lay leaders.
The clergy and religious have been so closely identified with the Church that there has been a tendency among the laity to feel like inferior members of the Church. We are all members of one body and the laity are the members whose function is to spread the Gospel in the world. With the continued growth of the Church and increased finances, we should soon see the lay person coming to center stage and making more contributions to the life of the Church.