LEO XIII 1878-1903

The Apostolate of the Laity *


[From the same Encyclical]


1936c And there is no reason for anyone to object that Jesus Christ, the guardian and champion of the Church, by no means needs the help of men. For, not because of any lack of strength, but because of the magnitude of His goodness does He wish that some effort be contributed by us toward obtaining and acquiring the fruits of the salvation which He Himself has procured.


The most important features of this duty are: to profess Catholic doctrine openly and firmly, and to propagate it as much as each one can. . . . Surely the duty of preaching, that is of teaching, belongs by divine right to the masters whom “the Holy Ghost hath placed as bishops to rule the Church of God” [cf. Acts 20:28], and especially to the Roman Pontiff, vicar of Jesus Christ, placed with supreme power over the whole Church, the master of all that is to be believed and to be practiced. Nevertheless, let no one think that private persons are prohibited from taking any active part in teaching, especially those to whom God has granted the ability of mind with a zeal for meritorious service. These, as often as circumstances demand, can well take upon themselves the role not indeed of teacher, but they can impart to others what they themselves have received, resounding like an echo with the voice of their masters. Indeed, this work of the private person has seemed to the Fathers of the Vatican Council to be so opportune and fruitful that they have decided furthermore to invite it: “Let all the faithful of Christ contribute their efforts” [See n. 1819].–Moreover, let everyone remember that he can and ought to sow the Catholic faith by the authority of his example, and to preach it by continual profession.–In the duties, then, that bind us to God and to the Church, this especially-should be numbered, that the industry of everyone should be exercised, insofar as possible, in propagating Christian truth and in repelling errors.

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