The nature and the missionary role of the laity in the church is one of the issues currently vital to the church and theologians. From the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) perspective, the word laity is technically understood to mean all the faithful except those in holy orders and those in the state of religious life specially approved by the Catholic Church (LG31). These faithful are by baptism made one with Christ and constitute the People of God; they are sharers in the priestly, prophetic and kingly functions of Christ; and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the church and in the world. However, the distinction between the ordained and the lay is a real one. A great deal of attention has been paid to the ordained ministry of the Church, its nature, its authority and its functions. The laity tends, by way of contrast, to be taken very much for granted, as though in their case no special problems arise. This study discusses the nature, role, and participation of lay people in the mission of the Church as proposed by the Second Vatican Council. It treats succinctly the historical development of the Laity and the challenges and opportunities inherent in their mission.
Keywords: Mission, Evangelization, Communion, Convenience, Conviction, Lay faithful, Clergy, the baptized, Christifideles; aggiornamento, Apostolicam Actuositatem; Lumen Gentium.
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