I've written before about how I detest the bizarre sort of populism that demands "participation" in the sanctuary by a cadre of lay people. Of course, this group is still very small, still only 1% of the congregation, but the idea is that somehow they "represent" the rest of us.
Of course, the problem with this is: why can't the clergy represent us? In fact, that's exactly what they're supposed to do! People will say, "Oh, but the lay class or dimension of the Church needs to be seen actively up there too!"
But that misses the whole point by actually conceding a strange sort of clericalism which essentializes the clergy as "other." In reality, all "clergy" meant originally (and should mean) is the class of people deputized to represent the Church publicly, especially in liturgical roles. By the very fact of taking on a public liturgical role, the person in question is by definition taking on a [pseudo-]clerical status and role!
Anyway, I saw a particularly egregious and obvious example of this mindset quoted on Rorate Caeli. Some liberal Spanish reporter went to an SSPX chapel to do a story and described the traditional Mass by saying it had: "no participation of any faithful in the readings or distribution of communion."
Umm...is a priest, a deacon, a subdeacon, or someone in minor orders of lector or acolyte not one of the "faithful"!?! How can you say, then, that there was no participation by "any faithful" in these things?? Of course, I'm sure he means there was no participation of any of the laity. But that's the whole point! By traditional definitions, the moment you are deputized to represent the congregation in the sanctuary with a role like this...you are a cleric, or at least doing something essentially clerical! That's all a cleric ultimately is: a member of the faithful deputized to represent the Church publicly, especially in worship.
But, in the modern world of paradoxical "lay ministries," definitions have gotten messed up, and so there is this weird "us/them" construction of the laity/clergy. I blame, as often I do, mandatory celibacy. It has made the "essence" of the clergy, in so many people's minds, lay and cleric alike, not the status of public pray-er and representative of the Church (under which definition the idea of a "lay" person in such a role is simply contradictory), but rather a specific unmarried lifestyle (analogized to religious life) and state of institutional employment. The problems resulting from this are endless.