Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 July 2019
The absence of awareness of an “apostolate of the laity” is a manifest feature of life in the post–Vatican II Church. This is in contrast to the role of “ministry” as an all-purpose term used to designate the activities of lay persons inside and outside the parish. In this essay, I argue that this replacement is in fact a loss. First, I discuss the approach to the laity that preceded the Second Vatican Council; then I look at what Lumen gentium, and Apostolicam actuositatem, The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity have to say, and also at John Paul II’s discussion in Christifideles laici. Penultimately, I discuss the shift from apostolate to ministry; and finally, I address what is lost in this shift, and what would be gained by returning to the concept of a lay apostolate.