Private ministries in the Church
The harvest is indeed rich, but the labourers are few. These are the words of Jesus, and it sends the message that more hands are needed in the work of evangelism. As Christians therefor we are all called to rise to this responsibility, to preach the gospel of Christ without fear or favour. The responsibility of the Church is our responsibility because we are the Church.
In this great responsibility entrusted to the Church by Christ, a very careful organization of the mission is required, it is not a scattered mission. Jesus had said to the apostles that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), there was a sense of orderliness in their mission. That sense of orderliness is visibly present in the Catholic Church, and every Catholic is enjoined to collaborate with the hierarchy of the Church to bring about the fulfillment of this great mission to evangelize the world.
Though the Catholic Church seem to be highly ‘clericalized’, she has so much respect for the lay faithful and have a place of honour for them. I made this same point a few week ago when I was invited to talk to the lay leaders of the Apapa deanery of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos on the topic; The lay leaders in the propagation of mercy. I made them understand that we all have been challenged to be evangelists as Pope Benedict XVI did seven years ago when he inaugurated an ecclesial conference for the Diocese of Rome on “Church Membership and Pastoral Co-responsibility.” He challenged the lay people to learn not to only see themselves as mere collaborators with the clergy but to see themselves as co-responsible for the mission entrusted to the Church by Christ Jesus. But this co-responsibility is becoming a problem, especially in the Church of Nigeria. Some few lay faithful now see it as a call to gain autonomy, to rise against and cause division in the Church.
In many Catholic parishes today in Nigeria, private ministries abound. These ministries are run by Catholics who claim to be in full communion with the Catholic Church, yet prefers to remain private, these ‘ministries’ have become a preparatory ground for the creation of more Christian denominations. We must know that the call for co-responsibility is not a call to division, the Catholic Church is one, its holy and apostolic.
In the Catholic Church we have so many devotional societies, groups and organizations approved by the Church, and the call for co-responsibility can be answered within any of these groups without necessarily going out of the Church to run a private ministry in the name of co-responsibility. The manner, the rush and the zeal with which these ministries are run raises a lot of suspicion, especially the jalousies between those operating these ministries.
Catholics must beware! Do not be deceived.