Priests, deacons, Religious and the lay faithful will be supported to work together, so that we can share responsibility for the mission of the Church and deepen our relationship with God.

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Co-responsibility - bringing people closer to Christ, together.

The move that Pope Francis has called for towards greater co-responsibility in the Church is essential for the Archdiocese to further its mission of bringing people closer to Christ Jesus and His Church in the current environment.

It is a vital part of the development of all the baptised to enable them to fulfil their vocation, whatever their state of life.

Because of the one dignity flowing from baptism, each member of the lay faithful, together with ordained ministers and men and women religious, shares a responsibility for the Church's mission.

Christifideles Laici 15, 1989

Why do we need to work in a more co-responsible way?

Since Vatican II, a new type of collaboration between laypeople and the clergy has happily come about in the Church. The spirit of readiness in which a great number of laypeople have offered themselves for the service of the Church must be counted among the best benefits of the Council. In this there is a new experience of the fact that we are all the Church.

Final Report of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, 1985, 2.C.6

Because God in Scripture and in Church Teaching tells us to.
God has made us social beings. It is not good for Man to be alone. Working co-responsibly has the potential to release clergy from those aspects of parish life that could be more capably undertaken by others and gives the laity the opportunity to develop their own vocation of mission. To be a good steward of creation, each of us will need to involve others; we fail in our task if we do not. All Christians are part of Christ’s Body and we therefore must ensure that all parts get the opportunity for exercising their gifts.

Because it is good for us all as the people of God
In the Archdiocese, in the parish, in the family, there are many tasks. We may be better than other people at doing them - but we cannot and should not do them all. We will get more things done if we involve others. Jesus sent out the 72 disciples, He did not go to all the towns and villages himself.

Because it is enjoyable
Whilst working in a team can have its drawbacks and challenges, it is however much more fun to have others to celebrate successes, and to hold you up when troubles occur. The Catholic Church is a community of individuals working and celebrating together.

Because the sum of our joint efforts is greater than the sum of our parts
If it is acknowledged that team members have different skills, talents and charisms, then working together can enrich ideas and produce more effective and efficient working. This can lead to better results but also a more motivated team that has energy to deliver on its objectives.

The present situation in many of our parishes and how it might change.

We celebrate the fact that our parishes already have many people who give their time and talents in a plethora of ways. Praise God! With the seemingly ever decreasing number of priests we need to ask “What do we want our priests to do and not do? What is it that only the priest or deacon can do and should this be their focus?”

What is clear though is that our people are not always:

1. Recruited. 2. Equipped. 3. Released.

in a way that facilitates much of what we believe is needed to facilitate co- responsibility and effective leadership.

Aim of the Co-Responsibility Group

The aim of the Co-Responsibility sub group is to help facilitate episcopal areas, deaneries, clusters and parishes to work more closely together by:

1. Specifying the activities required to promote and implement Co-Responsibility.

2. Assisting the Formation Team in identifying the necessary training and development.

3. Being a resource to those who seek ongoing advice and support.

You can read the Archdiocese’s document on co-responsibility for more detail on what co-responsibility will involve, its ethos and ecclesiology, the role of a leadership team and how a team can be grown.

Co-Responsibility in Unfolding God’s Plan

This paper has been produced by the Co-Responsibility Sub Group as a contribution to discussions regarding the Diocesan Vision. The move that Pope Francis has called for towards greater co-responsibility in the Church is essential for the Archdiocese to further its mission of bringing people closer to Christ Jesus and His Church in the current environment.

Download: Co-Responsibility in Unfolding God’s Plan

Current work

A clergy day was held on the theme of co-responsibility early in 2021. The Archbishop’s Council and the Trustees have already begun to take part in workshops and training to ensure that everyone is in the best position to support the parishes as we develop more vibrant and co responsible communities of faith.

The co responsibility sub-group will now:

  • Create, write, and distribute a toolkit for facilitating parish discussions and prayer around developing co-responsibility for mission - this is in progress.
  • Develop support for parishes around three top priorities, which are: Young People and Families and Faith Formation and Training for leaders and clergy, alongside identifying gifts and charisms.
  • Reach out with support and encourage mentoring where requested.


The Sign We Give- Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Post-Synodal apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici of His Holiness John Paul II on the vocation and the mission of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world.


Eric Kirwan, Diocesan Chief Operating Officer
Paul O’Connor, Diocesan Head of Planning
Maria Bracken, Youth Ministry Coordinator
Sandra Satchell, CEO of the Kenelm Youth Trust
Pete Smallwood, Human Formation Co-ordinator and Tutor at St John Paul II Centre