The Lay Vocation: The Secular Role of the Laity in the Mission of the Church

The Responsibility and Role of the Laity

Here is what the Church’s magisterium says about the unique role of the laity in the mission of the Church.

It is the laity’s “special vocation … to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will”
Lumen Gentium,  The Dogmatic Constitution of the Church 31, Vatican II

The Church, by reason of her role and competence, is not identified in any way with the political community nor bound to any political system. She is at once a sign and a safeguard of the transcendent character of the human person. (76)
Gaudium et Spes, The Pastoral Costitution of the Church 76, Vatican II  

“The new evangelization that can make the twenty-first century a springtime of the gospel is a task for the entire People of God, but will depend in a decisive way on the lay faithful being fully aware of their baptismal vocation and their responsibility for bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to their culture and society.”
~ Pope St. John Paul II
The Role of the Catholic Laity
Ad Limina Visit,
June 5, 1998

“the laity must take up the renewal of the temporal order as their own special obligation … ” (7)
[It is] “… so much the duty and responsibility of the laity that it can never be performed properly by others (13)   [emphasis added — Note: Not by bishops; not by priests — it is clearly the laity’s responsibility]
Apostolcam Actuositatem (Apostolate of the Laity)

The “new state of affairs today both in the Church and in social, economic, political and cultural life, calls with a particular urgency for the action of the lay faithful … It is not permissible for anyone to remain idle[emphasis added]

In particular the lay faithful are called to restore to creation all its original value.[emphasis added] In ordering creation to the authentic well-being of humanity in an activity governed by the life of grace, they share in the exercise of the power with which the Risen Christ draws all things to himself and subjects them along with himself to the Father, so that God might be everything to everyone (cf. 1 Cor 15:28; Jn 12:32).”

“The “world” thus becomes the place and the means for the lay faithful to fulfill their Christian vocation, because the world itself is destined to glorify God the Father in Christ. The Council is able then to indicate the proper and special sense of the divine vocation which is directed to the lay faithful.”

“… A faith that does not affect a person’s culture is a faith not fully embraced, not entirely thought out, not faithfully lived.’ ”

Christifideles Laici, Apostolic Exhortation 14-15
~Pope St. John Paul II

“The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society is proper to the lay faithful.” [emphasis added — Note again, not bishops, not priests — it is clearly the laity’s responsibility]

“A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church.[emphasis added]

“The Church’s social teaching argues on the basis of reason and … what is in accord with the nature of every human being.”[emphasis added]
Deus Caritas Est, 28-29
~ Pope Benedict XVI

Lay Associations and Ecclesial Movements

St. John Paul Catechesis in Audience: Lay Groups Promote the Mission of the Church (March 23, 1994 – Note: English has been removed, only available in Italian and Spanish) Catholics for the Common Good has followed the guidance from this Catechesis, Lumen Gentium, The Apostolate of the Laity, and Christifideles Laici in forming this apostolate for the Evangelization of Culture.

Canon Law: Associations of the Christian Faithful (Cann. 298-329)