The Pontifical Council for the Laity is a dicastery of the Roman Curia that assists the Holy Father in the exercise of his supreme office for the good and the service of the universal Church and the particular Churches, as regards the promotion and coordination of the lay apostolate and, in general, the Christian life of lay people.
The renewed awareness of the mystery of the Church and of her mission in the world, arising from Vatican II, could not fail to inspire a profound reform of the Curia. Paul VI put this into effect with the Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae of 15 August 1967. Alongside the centuries-old Congregations, the tribunals and other Curial offices, new dicasteries and secretariats were created to implement the teachings and directives of Vatican II.
The Pontifical Council for the Laity originated from a proposal formulated in n. 26 of the conciliar decree Apostolicam actuositatem on the apostolate of the laity. Its birth was made official by Paul VI on 6 January 1967 with the “motu proprio” Catholicam Christi Ecclesiam. At the end of the first experimental period of five years, the Pope declared: “No one can fail to see that the Laity Council is destined to have a privileged place within the Church”.(4) The Council, in fact, is “ever more an irreplaceable and effective instrument for the promotion of the laity in the Church”.