To the editor:
There exists a false belief by many that Vatican II emphasized lay ministry. I have read two different English translations of the council documents and found this to be untrue. Lay ministry, performed within the framework of the Church — lector, cantor, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, etc. — is performed by a minority of lay persons. Apostolate, by contrast should be performed by the majority of the lay faithful outside the confines of the Church – in the world. The reason for the 1985 Extraordinary Synod “was the celebration, verification and promotion of Vatican Council II” (Final Report #2). Regarding the laity, the synod proclaimed “All the laity must perform their role in the Church in their daily occupations such as the family, the workplace, secular activities and leisure time so as to permeate and transform the world with the light and life of Christ” (#4).
A word search of the Vatican II Decree On The Apostolate of Lay People reveals the following: Ministry had seven hits, none of which pertained to the laity and 120 hits for apostolate, all pertaining to the laity. The total number of times the word ministry was used with regard to lay activity in all 16 documents was four out of 115. The remaining 111 references applied to priests, bishops and the ministry of the Church. The total number of times apostolate was used with regard to lay activity in all the documents was 145.
“Now, the laity are called in a special way to make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can she become the salt of the earth” (Lumen Gentium #33) Wherever the gross exaggeration of lay ministry and the disregard for lay apostolate came from, it certainly was not from Vatican II.
West Church Street