134 • Part I. The Creed: The Faith Professed
The entire Church as a body is infallible because the Holy Spirit
ensures that she will not err in matters of faith and morals. But this
infallibility is exercised in a special way by the Pope and the bishops
when together they teach what has been divinely revealed either in the
ordinary way of their day-to-day teaching or the extraordinary way of
an Ecumenical Council or the Pope himself.
The Pope and bishops also together teach truths that flow from
Divine Revelation or that are closely related to it. Sometimes they
teach these truths as being definitive, which means they must be firmly
accepted and held. Sometimes they teach in a less than definitive way,
which requires a religious submission of will and mind.
By Baptism, every member of the Church participates in Christ’s role
as priest, prophet, and king (which is understood in terms of being the
shepherd of his people). The laity do this in the context of their lives
within families, parish communities, civic communities, and the work-
place. The everyday gift of themselves in love and care for others, often
done at great personal cost, is a priestly offering that is joined to the
sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist. By words and deeds faithful to the
Gospel, they evangelize others, thus fulfilling their prophetic role. By
seeking to build the common good of society on the basis of moral prin-
ciples, they strengthen civic communities and thus fulfill their kingly or
The laity are in the unique position of being able directly to infuse
culture and society with the Gospel. But they also contribute to the vital-
ity of the life of the Church through ministry as catechists and many
other ministries. Most are volunteers, but some have been called to serve
as salaried ministers.Working with their pastors, they enable the Church
to witness to Christian faith and love before the world.
In the post-conciliar period, a distinctly new and different group
of lay ministers has emerged in the Church in the United States.
This group consists of lay women and men performing roles that
entail varying degrees of pastoral leadership and administration