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The Laity and the Law

A Survey of the Legal Status of the Laity in the Nigerian Church - Towards the Relevance of Law in Evangelization Within the Context of a Developing Country


Gregory Okereke

The Second Vatican Council ushered in a tremendous enhancement of the ecclesiological and Legal status of the Laity in the Church. The Codex Iuris Canonici of 1983, which has been described as «an effort to translate the conciliar ecclesiological teaching into canonical terms», in addition to affirming their fundamental and radical equality of dignity and action (cann 208), contains Legislations on the rights and obligations common to all the faithful (cann 208-223), as well as those specifically characteristic of the Laity (cann 224-231).
Any general ecclesiastical Legislation, no matter how wonderfully worded, remains a «dead» formulation, unless it is applied in the historically, culturally, economically and sociologically conditioned concrete situation of a local Church; hence the effort in this study to investigate the application and/or applicability of the pertinent general norms on the laity in the Nigerian particular Church, where the challenges of the new era of evangelization of the country all the more accentuates the necessity of a legally stable and responsible involvement of the Laity in ecclesial affairs.