The Second Vatican Council’s renewed teachings on the theology of the laity and the church/world relationship did not appear out of thin air. As with other parts of the council’s teaching, key passages and ideas in Apostolicam Actuositatem (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity) and Gaudium et Spes can be traced to important movements of renewal already underway in the decades leading up to Vatican II.


Among the many sources of renewal in this period, the International Catholic Organizations, or ICOs, should not be overlooked. As lay associations and movements, these ICOs had both a direct and indirect impact on Vatican II’s teaching.