Question: To what degree are ordinary Catholics responsible for challenging the errors being taught against the Faith in the modern world? (G.D.)
Answer: We are responsible according to our state in life. Those who are baptized are required to profess the Faith, to publicly say that they are Christians and believe the truths of the Faith. The baptized are called upon to make a statement of the Faith when they receive the Sacrament, in the course of certain devotions like the Mass or the Rosary, and in time of persecution. It is always wrong to deny the Faith, even in mortal danger.
Those who have been Confirmed are "soldiers of Christ," and take on additional responsibilities toward the Church as a society. Only rarely is the "warfare" of Christians a military manner, and different people will perform their service in different ways. Some are articulate and will defend the Faith through words: letters to editors, politicians, and prelates; the writing of books and pamphlets; even by establishing Catholic media. Those who are organizers may work in political, legal, and lobbying efforts. Many of the chapels attended by traditional Catholics today exist through the efforts of dedicated laymen. Some are capable fundraisers or support the Church from their own means - large or small. A great deal of the work done for the purposes of the Church is done by volunteer labor - from stuffing envelopes and answering phones, through painting and mowing lawns, to cleaning and ironing the things of the church, serving at her altar, playing her music and singing her songs.
Married people take on the responsibilities of properly raising and educating their children, and looking after the family's physical and spiritual welfare. Although they may be aided by school teachers and club leaders, parents must retain the ultimate responsibility for their children's upbringing.
Those in Holy Orders are responsible for the government and administration of the Church, as well making the Sacraments and sound Catholic teaching available to the faithful. Under certain circumstances these obligations may bind even at the risk of life and limb. The obligation to challenge dogmatic and moral error weighs most heavily on priests and bishops, for their silence would very likely be interpreted by most as tacit agreement. At least in the formal sense, the propagation of the Faith through authentic preaching and teaching is the task of the ordained clergy. Men and women in the religious life may have some additional responsibilities in accordance with their vows and the statutes of their order.
We have portrayed this in a sort of hierarchical manner, but it must be remembered that "when the ship is sinking it is everyone's responsibility to bail," or to do whatever else is necessary to keep her afloat. Some times we must correct even our superiors -- respectfully, of course, but firmly, like Saint Paul who found it necessary to resist Peter "to his face."
In a general way, all Christians are called to witness to their faith through their good example. It is said that the greatest witness to Christ is "to live a life that would make no sense if God did not exist."