Today we celebrate the memorial of the 103 Korean Martyrs, usually two names are singled out St. Andrew Kim and St. Paul Chong, one priest and one layman.
We recently completed our celebration of the year of the priests. While most of it was positive, there were some voices who attempted to claim that to celebrate the ministerial priesthood was somehow "exclusive" or "clericalism", that praising the ministerial priesthood somehow denigrates the priesthood of the faithful.
The error of this thinking is that it assumes that there is a finite amount of praise and that it is a zero sum game. To give to one, you must take from another.
Is it true that in the past the role of the laity was undervalued? Yes. The answer is not, however, to now undervalue the role of the ordained priest. We did that in the last half of the twentieth century and we see the result.
What we need is balance. We need to go back and read the Vatican II document on the role of the laity, and their unique mission in the world. At the same time we need to not be ashamed to say that there is something special about the role of the ordained priest. Even after everything the priesthood has been through in the last few years, every study shows that most priests today still say they would not choose any other life.
The Korean church needed Andrew and Paul each with unique gifts and called to a distinct ministry in the church. May we find our way to true collaboration, that every part of the body of Christ work for the building up of the whole.