The 25th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity will be held from 24 to 26 November 2011 at Villa Aurelia in Rome.
There will be two parts to the Assembly. In the first part, well known experts will speak on the topic: “The question of God today. ‘Should we not start all over again from God?’” The quotation contained in the title is taken from “Light of the World”, a book of interviews with the Holy Father. The question of God is indeed one of the priorities in the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI. The Assembly will deal with issues related to the vocation and mission of the lay faithful, many of whom live today in societies and cultures where the sense of God is being eclipsed. It will commence with a keynote speech that will give a synthesis of the magisterium of Benedict XVI. This will provide guidelines for further discussion. There will be a study on the situation of faith and unbelief in the world today followed by a presentation on the relationship between reason and faith. The day will conclude with a talk on the God of Jesus Christ in the Catholic faith. The second day will be dedicated to looking at the terrain of exchange between belief and unbelief in those different places and contexts where people witness to God, and also at the impact of the subject of “God” in contemporary publishing media. There will be a debate on the space for research and dialogue that the Holy Father called “the courtyard of the gentiles”. The third day will give time to reflecting on the most suitable language for conversations about God with people today, and on what can be learned from well known converts from atheism.
The second part of the Plenary Assembly will contain an afternoon session dedicated to an evaluation of the work that has been done since the last Assembly (May 2010), and to discussion about initiatives for the future. Planned activities include the Congress for Catholic Laity in Africa (Cameroon 2012) and the 28th World Youth Day scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2013.
The programme will allow adequate time for discussion and study. The success of the Assembly will not only depend on the speeches, but will depend mainly on the conversation that will take place among the members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the key people at the Plenary Assembly. The proceedings of the Assembly will be published by the dicastery.
As is customary, the high point of the Assembly will be the audience with Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father’s words always give direction to the Pontifical Council for the Laity and serve as a source of inspiration for our service to the mission of the laity in the universal Church.