The Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Laity is positioning its website as a resource for lay men and women ahead of Pope Benedict's Year of Faith, which will kick-off in October.

"It is directed to all the lay faithful that want to know more about their vocation, about their role within the Church," Ana Cristina Betancourt of the Pontifical Council's Women's Section told CNA in Rome.   

"So, it is a way of being in contact with what we do day-to-day and that was our aim in having it, to make more known the things that we do, the reflections that we have, the things that we are thinking about and also the guidelines that the Pope is giving the laity to better live their vocations."

The Pontifical Council for the Laity was created by was Pope Paul VI in 1967 and re-founded by the same Pontiff in 1976 to include it as a permanent dicastery within the Roman Curia. For many years one of its key consulters was Poland's Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, later Pope John Paul II.

Its stated aim is to assist the Pope "in all matters concerning the contribution the lay faithful make to the life and mission of the Church, whether as individuals or through the various forms of association that have arisen and constantly arise within the Church."

The website was unveiled for Blessed John Paul II's beatification in Spring 2011 but is constantly updated.

Betancourt explained that the homepage focuses on "the latest news and events" involving the council including video reports. It will also include statements by Pope Benedict XVI on the vocation of the laity such as "little references that he makes in his speeches or in documents to the vocation of the laity."  There is also a message from the President of the Council, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, "which also changes continually."

The site also carries links to its four sections – "Associations and Movements," "Women," "Church and Sport," and "Youth."

In recent decades one of its most significant tasks of the council has been the organization of the Church's World Youth Day, a global encounter between young people and the Roman pontiff.

The next such event will take place next summer in Rio de Janeiro when over 2 million young pilgrims are expected to make the journey to the Brazilian metropolis. It is hoped the  website can be a key tool in helping to organize the meeting.

"We want to give information, first of all about the next World Youth Day," said Fr. Eric Jacquinet of the Pontifical Council's Youth Section of his hopes for the website.  

"But also want to reflect on youth ministry because Pope Benedict is very attentive to education, to the formation of young people, so we try to give them some materials to think about this."

The Pontifical Council for Laity website can be found at