Pope Benedict has emphasised the lay vocation as imbuing the world with Christian values.
The specific role of the layperson is "to imbue the temporal order with the Christian spirit and to transform it according to the divine plan," Pope Benedict has told Paraguay's bishops following the election of a former bishop as the South American nation's new president.
The role of a bishop or priest in politics is to give laypeople the spiritual guidance and education they need to live up to their obligation to make society reflect God's plan for the world, Pope Benedict said, according to a Catholic News Service report.
"In order to make the Christian message reach the furthest corners of the world, the cooperation of the laity is essential," the pope told the bishops of Paraguay yesterday.
The specific vocation of the layperson, the pope said, is "to imbue the temporal order with the Christian spirit and transform it according to the divine plan."
Pope Benedict met the Paraguayan bishops at the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo as they were finishing their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican.
The political situation in Paraguay was a main theme in both the pope's talk and the speech by Bishop Ignacio Gogorza Izaguirre of Encarnacion, president of the Paraguayan bishops' conference.
But neither mentioned President Fernando Lugo, the retired bishop of San Pedro, who was elected in April and laicized by the Vatican in late June.
Pope Benedict told the bishops, "A significant aspect of the mission of the laity is to serve society through the exercise of politics."
He said the "the doctrinal heritage of the Church" holds that the promotion of a just social order is the responsibility primarily of the lay faithful.
"They are encouraged, therefore, to live this important dimension of social charity with responsibility and dedication," he said.
The laity must work to promote justice and honesty and to defend important values, including the sacredness of human life and the dignity of marriage and the family, the pope concluded.