AA14: Large Scale Apostolic Work

This section of Apostolicam Actuositatem gives rather vague endorsements to large scale lay efforts on the national level and beyond. Promoting justice is an obligation, even a common good laced with “moral precepts.” The hierarchy sees this as a preparation for the taking root of the Gospel.

Cooperation is lauded:

Catholics should try to cooperate with all men and women of good will to promote whatever is true, whatever just, whatever holy, whatever lovable (cf. Phil. 4:8). They should hold discussions with them, excel them in prudence and courtesy, and initiate research on social and public practices which should be improved in line with the spirit of the Gospel.

Clearly, the spirit of the 60’s suggested to the council deliberators that withdrawal from the world was not a serious option, not in light of an acknowledgement that the world has yet to receive the Gospel. Not in light of the role of the lay person to find common ground, as it were, with those who would be willing to engage the Christian in the political sphere.

Various non-Christian movements and tendencies are fertile ground:

… the irresistibly increasing sense of the solidarity of all peoples is especially noteworthy. It is a function of the lay apostolate sedulously to promote this awareness and to transform it into a sincere and genuine love of brotherhood.

Fertile for the development of Christian ideals, that is. Special awareness for developing nations is called for, as are “practical” solutions outside the purview of theology, doctrine, etc..

Tolerance, or if you’re more comfortable, mutual respect:

All who work in or give help to foreign nations must remember that relations among peoples should be a genuine fraternal exchange in which each party is at the same time a giver and a receiver. Travelers, whether their interest is international affairs, business, or leisure, should remember that they are itinerant heralds of Christ wherever they go and should act accordingly.

In other words, when away from home, mind your manners.

This section strikes me as a repudiation of a Catholic circle-the-wagons or head-for-the-hills mentality. The lay person is obliged (their words, not mine) to actively engage the world, not with the notion of being corrupted by it, but with the expressed purpose of preparing the way for the Gospel.

This is substantially different from the straw man complaint, “Vatican II has mistakenly been about adapting the Church to the world.” Dialogue does not imply a tacit acceptance. AA14 clearly keeps the focus on two items: (1) Collaborate on what is congruent to the Gospel (2) Prepare for the time when the world is ready to accept the Gospel.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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