Fr. Jordan Aumann, O.P. former Director of the Institute of Spirituality at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, is an honorary professor of the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, where he has been giving special courses in spirituality since 1977.
During and after the Second Vatican Council the lay members of the Church have been called repeatedly to assume their rightful place among the People of God and to perform the apostolate that is their responsibility. This in itself constitutes a remarkable change in the traditional under standing of the role of the laity in the life and ministry of the Church. And one of the after-effects of this change is a somewhat different concept of the Church, which is no longer seen as the exclusive domain of the clergy.
Ever faithful in implementing the decrees issued by Vatican Council II, Pope John Paul II issued his Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici, on December 30, 1988. This followed on the heels of the 1987 Synod of Bishops, which had as its topic: "The Vocation and Mission of the Laity in the Church and the World Twenty Years after the Second Vatican Council." To appreciate the significance of these events, it is necessary to review briefly the historical development of the new theology of the lay Christian faithful, which prepared the way for new canonical legislation.