Friday, July 20, 2007

Vatican II and the Laity

Although Vatican II formally ended on December 8, 1965, its implementation continues.

Paulist Press (997 Macarthur Blvd., Mahwah, NJ 07430) has commissioned a series of eight short books on Vatican II. Each considers two Vatican II documents in the context of the thinking leading to Vatican II, of controversies during Vatican II, and of programs, publications and experience since Vatican II.

The Laity and Christian Education by Dolores Leckey (Paulist Press [2006]; $14.95) focuses on Vatican II's Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity and its Declaration on Christian Education.

In a sense Vatican II in its entirety can be considered a "Council of the Laity," says Leckey of Woodstock Theological Center (Georgetown University, PO Box 571137, Wahsington, DC 20057; http://woodstock.georgetown.edu/). That's despite a strong attitude in the church exemplified by a bishop's remark at Vatican II: I looked up the word layman in a theological dictionary, Leckey quotes the bishop, "and found that the entry said see clergy."

In the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity and elsewhere Vatican II "turns to the laity" precisely because we are the church in the worl. Society's institutions are, says Vaticn II, basically good. Of course, as Leckey notes, Christians cannot uncritically embrace the advances of society because sin "has not disappeared from the face of the earth."

And so, the challenge of lay people is to soldily grasp the teachings of Vatican II and to move the world closer to "health and new life" in Christ.

From Initiatives In Support of Christians in the World, Summer 2007, www.catholiclabor.org/NCL.htm