WESTMINSTER this week became the first British diocese to involve its laity in a full-scale discussion about the future of the Church in the area and ways in which it might become a praying and caring community.
In a pastoral paper called "Prayer and Community," which will be available in all parishes on Sunday, Cardinal Hume and the six bishops of the diocese invite everyone in the diocese to take part in an intensive programme of prayer during Lent and to discuss in their parishes and families ways in which the Church may become more of a family.
The paper, which has taken more than a year to prepare, is an attempt by the bishops to develop a pastoral strategy from the grass-roots by encouraging developments already taking place at parish level rather than
by imposing a programme from above.
The laity are asked to send their responses to six questions posed in the paper to Archbishop's House by April 20. In May and June pastoral conferences will be held in each of the five areas of the diocese.
At these conferences the bishops and representatives from each area will review the past five months, discuss the way ahead for the diocese and plan topics for,the next pastoral paper.
In the interim the bishops have prepared two pastoral letters. The first, called "Prayer and Family Life," will be read in all churches on the first Sunday of Lent, and the second, "Making the Church a Family" will be read on Low Sunday, April 20. Chance for laity, page 3