Apostolicam Actuositatem

The decree " Apostolicam Actuositatem " ( Abbreviation: AA) on the lay apostolate, of 18 November 1965 is a document of the Second Vatican Council.

Content of Decree

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: the vocation of the laity for the apostolate
  • 2nd chapter: The objectives of the Laienapostolate
  • Chapter 3: Different areas of Laienapostolate
  • Chapter 4: Different forms of the apostolates
  • 5.Kapitel: The order
  • 6.Kapitel: The formation for the apostolate
  • The Council call
  • Comments

General information on the Lay Apostolate

In the Council documents is by the laity at three points in detail the speech in the Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium ), the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity ( Apostolicam Actuositatem ) and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes ). The Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People clarifies that the laity realize " in the Church and the world have their own share in the mission of the whole people of God," this apostolate of the laity is justified by their union with Christ. ( ... ) There is in the church a diversity of ministry but unity of mission. (...) But the laity who participate also the priestly, prophetic and kingly office of Christ, the Church and the world have their own share in the mission of the whole people of God. Through their work of evangelization and sanctification of the whole man and to the penetration and perfecting of the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel they practice actually an apostolate ( cf. AA No. 2).

Laity in religious communities

Some lay practitioners due to a particular vocation in the life of religious communities participate. The Council affirms this with this decree and encouraged to take this step. It invites the laity to seek the faithful recording of the special characteristics of these families own spirituality ( cf. AA No. 4). The laity in religious communities, says the decree, separate from the world and select a different state of life, they want to lay all the evidence before his eyes.

The Lay Apostolate

To this end, it says: It is the specific task of the laity to make the temporal realities in the light of the doctrinal principles as set out by the Magisterium. They should however act in the concrete decisions in their social, family, political and cultural life with the necessary personal autonomy ( cf. AA No. 7)

Consultative bodies

Despite all the differences of the respective services - underlined by the Second Vatican Council - which is why there is a oneness of mission of all the members of God's people ( cf. AA No. 2). This shared responsibility of all Christians you wanted to express here. In this vein, it was suggested to set up advisory committees in dioceses and parishes, but also at other levels, " and the apostolic work of the Church in evangelization and sanctification, in charitable and social area and in other areas with appropriate cooperation by clerics religious with the laity support (see AA 26). This assembly was then used as a basis for election of parish councils and other internal church councils.


With the aim to coordinate the initiatives of various organizations and clergy communities of lay sense, the diocesan bishop opened the possibility for the constitution of diocesan committees. It can store all the church recognized and existing diocesan Catholic clergy associations and communities, the circumscribed by the Council tasks of the lay apostolate ( cf. AA No. 26) perceive effective and united.

The apostolate

The decree is emphasized that all Christians in baptism " entrusted to the apostolate by the Lord " were ( cf. AA No. 3). In order to assist in the fulfillment of the mission of the whole Church, for Christians, it does not require a license or an assignment of part of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Christians can do this both as individuals but also collectively, ie in the merger to associations do ( cf. AA Nr.18ff ).

Catholic Action

The decree ( cf. AA No. 20) emphasizes the role of the council " Catholic Action " as a particular form of organized lay apostolate. The immediate goal of these organizations is the apostolic purpose of the Church, namely, ordination to the evangelization and sanctification of men and to the Christian formation of their conscience. The laity working in them peculiar way with the hierarchy together, wear their own experience and assume responsibility in the management of these organizations. The laity act together in the manner of an organic body, so that the community of the Church clearly expressed and so the apostolate is effective. The lay people who offer to volunteer or be invited to act and to direct cooperation with the hierarchical apostolate, act under the direction of the hierarchy itself This can employees by an explicit mandate confirm. (see AA # 20 )


The Council reaffirmed in continuation of the tradition in the concept of " common priesthood of all believers" in several decrees equality of all believers. Laymen have as believers in the mission of the Church: " The apostolate of the laity but is a participation in [ ... ] the healing -making mission of the Church, and for this apostolate, all determined by the Lord himself through baptism and confirmation will " (Lumen Gentium, No.. 33). The laity are therefore not through the hierarchy, but " determined itself to the apostolate by the Lord ," they "have the duty and the right to the apostolate [ ... ] because of their union with Christ the head, even " ( cf. AA No.. 3).