Vatican II on Catholic Action

In a document titled Apostolate of the Laity there is a brief discussion of Catholic Action:

These types of apostolate, whether or not they go by the name of Catholic Action, are today doing a work of much value. They are constituted by the combination of all the following characteristics:

(a) The immediate end of organizations of this class is the apostolic end of the Church; in other words: the evangelization and sanctification of men and the Christian formation of their conscience,so as to enable them to imbue with the Gospel spirit the various social groups and environments.
(b) The laity, cooperating in their own particular way with the hierarchy, contribute their experience and assume responsibility in the direction of these organizations, in the investigation of the conditions in which the Church’s pastoral work is to be carried on, in the elaboration and execution of their plan of action.
(c) The laity act in unison after the manner of an organic body, to display more strikingly the community aspect of the Church and to render the apostolate more productive.
(d) The laity, whether coming of their own accord or in response to an invitation to action and direct cooperation with the hierarchical apostolate, act under the superior direction of the hierarchy, which can authorize this cooperation, besides, with an explicit mandate.

Organization which, in the judgment of the hierarchy, combine all these elements should be regarded as Catholic Action, even if they have forms and names that vary according too the requirements of localities and peoples.

The council most earnestly commends those institutions which certainly meet the requirements of the Church’s apostolate in many countries; it invites the priests and laity working in them to develop more and more the characteristics mentioned above, and always to give brotherly cooperation in the Church to all other forms of the apostolate..

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