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Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People (November 18, 1965). The document is a practical expression of the Church's mission, to which the laity are specially called in virtue of their baptism and incorporation into Christ. One of its important provisions is the recognition that, while preserving the necessary link with ecclesiastical authority, the laity have the right to establish and direct associations and to join existing ones. In effect the decree provides for three kinds of corporate lay apostolates: 1. those which "owe their origin to the free choice of the laity and are run at their own discretion," but always having "the approval of legitimate ecclesiastical authority"; 2. those specially chosen by the bishops and "without depriving the laity of their rightful freedom" nevertheless have received a "mandate" from the hierarchy; 3. those so closely associated with the hierarchy that they are "fully subject to the superior ecclesiastical control in regard to the exercise of these charges."
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.