In the same article to which I refer in the blog below, Barney Zwartz writes:
On power, the Catholic Church has long treated priests and those in religious orders as a higher caste, separate and superior to laypeople. It doesn’t even have a collective term for all members in the way that nations have “citizens” — a category to which the newest Australian belongs as much as the Prime Minister — because the primary meaning of “laypeople” is non-clerics.
This is a combination of a gross distortion and a falsehood. Lets start with the falsehood.
The term “lay people” is one of those tautologous terms like the place name “Penhill Hill” (“Pen” is old English for hill). “Lay” comes from the greek “ho laos” which means “the people”. As in “The People of God” (or Das Volk Gottes) (eg. Heb 4:9). Vatican II and Papa Benny are particularly keen on this idea. Thus the term “laity” does not primarily mean “not clerical”, just as the term “Catholic” does not primarily mean “non-Protestant” or “non-Orthodox”.
And the gross distortion is the suggestion that the Church regards “and those in religious orders as a higher caste, separate and superior to laypeople”. This may have been the case that for a period (eg. some centuries before the Reformation), but it is not the case in either doctrine or practice in the 21st Century. The doctrines of vocation and charisms have raised up (and praised up) all valid callings, religious or secular, as equal paths to holiness and sainthood. The pope who taught us most on this was John Paul II, and I challenge Barney or anyone else to find anything in his writings (or indeed in the teachings of the Church today) which even suggests that priesthood or religious life is a calling more holy than (eg.) motherhood or garbage collecting.