1964: Bishop Remi De Roo: The lay apostolate

This is a report of a speech delivered by Canadian Bishop Remi De Roo to the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council during the debate on the Schema on Lay Apostolate.


Rev. Dr. Ralph M. Wiltgen SVD Divine Word News Service CP 5060, Rome, Italy Tel. 63.70.105

ROME, Oct. 7 (DW) – Bishop Rémy J. De Roo, 40, Bishop of Victoria, Canada, addressed the Assembly this morning on behalf of the fifteen Canadian bishops, and presented two ideas which, he said, “are essential for a more dynamic way of dealing with the apostolate of the laity.

Citing the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Colossians, I, 16-17, Bishop de Roo says all things in heaven and on earth were created in Christ and by Christ, who exists before creation itself”. From this we can conclude, he says, “that the creative plan of God is therefore not not to be separated from his plan for the redemption of the world.” Since the two decrees of creation and redemption “are one in Christ,” and since the Church is the Body of Christ and has received from him the mission to continue his work, “we must locate both the two aforementioned aspects of God’s plan for the universe in the Church, and in unity.”

It follows from this, according to Bishop of Roo, that every Christian has a dual vocation. The first is the basic original calling of all people “as existing human beings to bring creation to completion and the universe to perfection.” Their creation alone as intelligent beings, with the mission of transmitting life, “is the source of their human dignity and their responsibility in the field of work, economy, education, science, technology,” etc.

Secondly, this vocation is elevated to the level of an apostolate “because of their adhesion by faith to the people of God and their call by baptism and confirmation to cooperate with Christ in the restoration of all things according to the divine plan of redemption.”

“These two aspects, the natural and the supernatural, are inseparable in the concrete existential vocation of every Christian to the lay apostolate, because in the Christian vocation all things are assumed by Christ, and commanded by the glory of the Father,” Bishop De Roo said.

Bishop De Roo’s second idea was that the purpose of the lay apostolate is twofold, just as the vocation of the laity is twofold.

In the first instance, “the whole of the people of God is responsible for the expansion of the Word of God and the coming of his Kingdom”, which means that “lay people must prepare, assist and prolong the ministry of the hierarchy.”

Secondly, the role of the laity, “of very great importance” and concerns the transformation of the temporal universe for the glory of God, because the hierarchical apostolate, which is separate from the apostolate of the laity, “cannot effectively accomplish the human and divine transformation of the universe,” the lay apostolate being “specifically that of the lay person as a lay person” and “completely different from the apostolate of the hierarchy in the strict sense.”

The schema (on the lay apostolate) needs to develop this basic doctrine, Bishop De Roo said, and needs to be rewritten because “the apostolic mandate of the laity in the temporal sphere, which concerns the promotion of humanity and the transformation of the world, is not a superficial and humanitarian task, but genuinely affects the paths of the redemptive plan.”


Archives Mgr Jean Streiff, No. 541 (Institut catholique de Paris)