A Catholic lay association, also referred to as Catholic Congress, is an association of lay Catholics aiming to discuss certain political or social issues from a Catholic perspective.
There are many thousands of lay associations existing at a local, diocesan, national / bishops conference or international level. The cover the whole spectrum of Catholic Lay life, from their Faith, Social Action, to the Professions in which they work.
The majority have sought and have been given backing by the appropriate "ecclesiastical authority". However, others have invoked the right contained in Canon 215 to form a Catholic Association without ecclesiastical approval. In these circumstances the only prescription on them is that they cannot use the term "Catholic" in their name. (Can. 216)
The Pontifical Council for the Laity is the body responsible for approving those Catholic Associations that exist at an international level. The structure of some Religious Orders allow for Lay branches to be associated with them. These are often referred to as Third Orders.
Some of the best known Catholic Lay Associations are Knights of Columbus, Knights of Columba, Catenians, Knights of Malta, the Piusverein in Germany and Switzerland, Azione Cattolica in Italy and the UK-based Catholic Truth Society.
There are also many lay Catholic guilds and associations representing a whole range of professions. These include the Catholic Police Guild, Holy Name Society (NYPD), the Association of Catholic Nurses, the Guild of Catholic Doctors, the Catholic Phyicians Guild, the Catholic Association of Performing Arts (UK), the Catholic Actors Guild of America.
List of Catholic lay organisations
This a list of organisations covering Catholic laity. It aims to list ecclesial movements of unspecified standing. For international Catholic movements that have received official approval by the Catholic Church, see Directory of International Associations of the Faithful.
- Apostolate for Family Consecration, founded in the US in 1975 by Jerry and Gwen Conker. Mission: Bringing families deeper into their faith.
- Apostolic Movement, a lay organization founded in Catanzaro, Italy, on 3 November 1979 by Maria Marino. Archbishop Antonio Cantisani and the Calabrian Bishops Conference have approved it statutes. On 16 August 1987, she and a group of adherents met privately with Pope John Paul II, who praised their work.
- Catholic Charismatic Renewal, with around 70 million Roman Catholics worldwide active in the movement, founded in the US in 1967 among college students. Mission: A renewal of faith through personal and communal experience of the Holy Spirit.
- Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service (CHARIS), founded in 2019. Result of the merger of ICCRS and the Catholic Fraternity. Subordinate to the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.
- Catholic Fraternity, an international charismatic association recognized by the Catholic Church
- International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS), the International charismatic association recognized by the Catholic Church
- Catholic Worker Movement: Founded in the US in 1933 by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, this movement works for peace and the equal distribution of goods. There are 185 local communities providing social services. Mission: Hospitality towards those on the margin of society.
- International Coordination of Young Christian Workers (ICYCW), a somewhat similar international association to the above, recognized by the Catholic Church
- Madonna House Apostolate, founded in Canada in 1947 by Catherine Doherty as a community of priests and laypersons has established missionary field houses worldwide. Mission: Loving Jesus Christ in daily life by serving the poor and living the Gospel.
- National Black Catholic Congress, founded in the United States in 1987 as a successor to the Colored Catholic Congress founded a century earlier by Daniel Rudd. Supports the Catholic Church in the African-American community and holds a quinquennial conference for delegates from around the country.
- Scalabrini Lay Association (Scalabrini Lay Association), an international association that do pastoral care for the migrants, recognized by the Catholic Church
- World Movement of Christian Workers (WMCW), an international association similar to the Catholic Worker Movement, recognized by the Catholic Church.