ROME (AP) — Pope Francis has formally created a new lay ministry to encourage greater participation of secular women and men in the teaching of the Catholic faith, especially in places where priests are in short supply. The new law creating the lay ministry of catechists officially recognizes for the universal Catholic Church a practice that has been used for centuries in local dioceses. In many parts of the world, lay men and women introduce people to the Catholic faith, educate them on receiving the initial sacraments of baptism and Communion, and accompany them in their faith journey. It’s the latest reform by Francis to address longstanding complaints that lay people — and specifically women — have been shut out of all levels of church decision-making, governance and participation.
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