Apostolate of the laity vs apostolate of the faithful

With only two months left until the Second Assembly of the Australian Plenary Council, it is worth recalling a key distinction insisted on by Cardijn at the Second Vatican Council.

Indeed, one of his key frustrations in his work with the Vatican II Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate in 1961, writes Stefan Gigacz, was the confusion and conflation by Commission members of the concepts of ‘apostolate of the laity’ and ‘apostolate of the faithful.”

For Cardijn, the “apostolate of the faithful” related to those tasks that lay people “carry out in religious life properly speaking (e.g. their participation in the Holy Sacrifice, in works of charity, etc.).”

In contrast, “apostolate of the laity” (or “lay apostolate”) related to the tasks that lay people “exercise in temporal life (in their profession, civic life, etc.).”

The consequence of confusing or conflating the two, Cardijn observed, was “fail(ure) to adequately highlight the necessity and importance of the proper and irreplaceable apostolate of lay people in temporal life.”

“This point seems to me, however, to be decisive in the world of the present and the future!” he insisted in a note for the Vatican II Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate.”


Stefan Gigacz, “Apostolate of the laity” vs “apostolate of the faithful” (Plenary Reflections)