Since the Second Vatican Council the concept of ‘collaboration’ has been the dominant framework through which the magisterium has read the relationship of laity to the ministry of the clergy. However, that began to change on 26 May, 2009, when Pope Benedict XVI, in an address to the Diocese of Rome, raised the term ‘co-responsibility’ as an appropriate hermeneutic through which to understand the role of laypeople in the Church.
This paper will present the theological basis and implications of such a development, underlining the significance of ‘co-responsibility’ as an ongoing realisation of the ecclesiology of communion that is the fundamental idea of the Council documents. It will address the accompanying shift from a contrastive theology of the laity to a more positive assessment of the contribution of the laity to the Church’s being and acting.
Specifically, it will contend that the endorsement of ‘co-responsibility’ by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI signals not only clear recognitio