IN its wider context, the solution
of the " leakage " problem would appear, therefore, to be bound up irrevocably with the question of the status of the laity in the Church.
We feel that where clarification is needed is in the exact nature of the lay apostolate, for it is the hazy and sometimes erroneous ideas about the role of the laity in the Church today, both on the side of the priest and on the side of the laity, which are to a large extent responsible for the " leakage," for it is only the true idea of the lay apostalate which is in harmony with present day developments in social life.
All other solutions to the " leakage " problem do not take into account the contemporary scene. Social clubs, for example, though supplying a social need, are in their present state an anachronism (they are indeed a dying concern in the East End of London, once their stronghold) and to some extent, too.
not specifically Catholic. i e,, missionary (they prevent the Church from getting to the mass of the district in which they exist).
Tw° points from Papal teaching should he made in order to clarify the meaning of the lay apostolate.
First, that the apostolate of the laity is distinct from that of the priest, though not capable of fulfilment without the formation and guidance of the priest. A great deal of unneccessary discord would be avoided if this distinction were sufficiently realised.
The apostolate of the laity springs from their vocation and it is the duty of their state for people such as heads of families, or of a firm, a member of a profession, a worker, to direct these institutions to their proper end and to infuse in them the Christian spirit.
The laity are not the hands and feet of the priest. They have their apostolate as of right.
Secondly, the role of the laity in the Church is exercised in the lay or temporal order: the order of the family. the trade union, the university, the office, the factory, the school: to gear the lay apostolate to the administration of the parish, as so often it is in this country. confuses the issue, isolates the Church from the world and generates on the one side (the priest's) paternalism and on the other (the laity's) anti-clericalism.