The Parish and the Mission of the Laity
The Second Vatican Council recognized the important role of the parish in the context of the universal Church: “The parish offers an outstanding example of community apostolate, for it gathers into a unity all the human diversities that are found there and inserts them into the universality of the Church.” With regard to the mission of the laity, the same document, the Decree on the Apostolate of Laity, highlights how the
laity should develop the habit of working in the parish in close union with their priests, of bringing before the ecclesial community their own problems, world problems, and questions regarding man’s salvation, to examine them together and to solve them by general discussion.
As mentioned previously, in light of communio ecclesiology, the Church has a wholesome and comprehensive view of the person in which all of his dimensions—physical and spiritual—are taken into account including his worldly activities. Thus, it should not be a cause for surprise to suggest, as the Decree above notes, that the parish should be a forum, a place where lay people should bring to their community their “world problems” and discuss them and resolve them together. This concept may still be surprising nonetheless to most Catholics. We are used to thinking of parishes as the place where we worship and not where we discuss “worldly” affairs. The underlying problem is our definition of worship. We seem to create a false dichotomy between worship and action when in reality if we were to live our lives as God meant for us to live them every one of our actions would become our “spiritual worship” (Rom 12:1).
 Apostolicam Actuositatem, 10
 Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 38.
 Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 29.