A bundle of documents

Bundle of documents

On 30 November, the PCLA sent out a bundle of documents – all in Latin of course – relating to the work of the Commission and the Subcommission in which Cardijn was involved.

It also included the reference codes that were to be used for the various kinds of documents that were being produced:

CV = Various kinds of circular letters

Pr = Proposals for Council documents

Ri = studies and research

Corr = Correspondence of our Commission

Ra = Session reports.

Visits to Holy See officials

While in Rome for the Prep Com meeting, Cardijn also took the opportunity to visit Holy See Secretary of State, Archbishop Dell’Acqua as well as Archbishop Pietro Sigismondi, the Secretary to the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith.

As usual, Cardijn was well prepared with a list of reports, problems to solve and requests to make.

A major announcement was the plan to hold the International Council in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the end of 1961.

He also provided an update on forthcoming training sessions in Lima, Peru, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Beirut, Lebanon, Guatemala and Lomé, Togo.

SOURCE

Archives Cardijn 1299

Italian domination of the Sub-Commissions

Cardijn faced yet another problem when the members appointed to the three sub-commissions of the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate were announced.

Sub-Commission I: General notions and aspects more directly concerning evangelisation

Thirteen members were appointed to Sub-Commission I on Evangelisation (SCE), including Cardijn.

There were six Italians:

Bishop Ismaele Mario Castellano, the national president of the Italian Catholic Action movement, who was appointed as president of the SCE;

Mgr Luigi Civardi, the author of a well-known Manual of (Italian) Catholic Action;

Mgr Emilio Guano, who also had long experience with Italian Catholic Action but who was also deeply involved with the Pax Romana movements for students and intellectuals;

Archbishop Evasio Colli, who had been director-general of the Italian Catholic Action movement from 1939-43;

Roberto Tucci SJ, a Jesuit who specialised in communications;

Fr Aurelio Sabbatani, a canon lawyer and auditor at the Sacred Roman Rota.

There were three from France, all of whom had experience with the Specialised Catholic Action movements:

Archbishop Gabriel Garrone of Toulouse, who had been a promoter of the SCA movements since at least the early 1930s and who had recently published a book on the subject;

Fr Henri Donze, who had been national chaplain of the Action Catholique Indépendent (ACI), a movement for middle-class and business people;

Fr Henri Caffarel, a former chaplain with the French JOC national secretariat, who later founded the Equipes Notre Dame (Teams of Our Lady).

In addition, the Lebanese priest, Fr Antoine Cortbawi, had been a JOC chaplain, although he had difficulties with the movement and with Cardijn himself, who wanted him replaced.

Finally, there were Bishop Gabriel Bukatko from Croatia and Fr Cyril Papali OCD, an Indian expert on Hinduism and missiology teaching at the Urbanium in Rome.

Thus, Sub-Commission I on Evangelisation was numerically by the Italian participants, most of whom were from the Italian Catholic Action movement.

Once again, this was a huge step backwards from the 1951 and 1957 World Congresses on Lay Apostolate, which were organised by committees that were far more globally representative.

Sub-Commission II: Social action

From Cardijn’s point of view, the situation was somewhat better in Sub-Commission II on Social Action.

Here the president was German Bishop Franz Hengsbach of Essen, where the headquarters of the German JOC (CAJ) movement was located, and a strong supporter and ally of Cardijn.

Vice-president was Mgr Pietro Pavan, an expert on Catholic social teaching and a close friend of Cardijn, albeit lacking in direct experience of Specialised Catholic Action.

The other members were the American TV evangelist, Bishop Fulton Sheen, Fr Joseph Géraud, a professor of moral theology from the Specialised Catholic Action stronghold of Lyon , the Italians Mgr Santo Quadri and Agostino Ferrari Toniolo, French Fr Georges Jarlot, all experts on Catholic social teaching, plus Frs Portier, Ponsioen and the German Jesuit Johannes Hirschmann.

Sub-Commission III: Charitable action

The president of Sub-Commission III on Charitable Action was the Italian Bishop Ferdinando Baldelli of the Pontifical Mission Assistance.

Members were American Bishop Allen Babcock of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Fr Gasbarri, the French former JOC chaplain and founder of the aid organisation, Secours catholique, Jean Rodhain, the Austrian Catholic Action chaplain, Ferdinand Klostermann, the Catalan priest and Fr Albert Bonet y Marrugat, who had founded the FJCC, a precursor movement to the JOC, and finally the Spaniard, Fr Lopez de Lara.

Thus, while Cardijn certainly had allies in each sub-commission, it had been a tough few days in Rome. Not only did the Italians dominate numerically, there was only one non-European member of the whole commission.

It was clear that the road ahead would be difficult.

SOURCES

Achille Glorieux, Histoire du Décret ‘Apostolicam Actuositatem’ sur l’Apostolat des laïcs” in A. Glorieux, R. Goldie, Y. Congar, H.-R. Weber, G. Hasenhüttl, J. Grootaers, M-J. Beccaria, P. Toulat et H. Küng, L’Apostolat des Laïcs, Décret “Apostolicam actuositatem” (Sous la direction de Y. Congar), Séries Unam Sanctam 75, Cerf, Paris, 1970, 91-140.

Members of secular institutes are the only genuine lay people!

Another interesting comment from Congar, who had been talking to Mgr André Baron, the rector of the French church in Rome, Saint Louis des Français:

“He spoke to me a bit about the atmosphere. He is no longer on the commission for the laity but on the one for Religious.

“He told me that Opus Dei, which is spreading fantastically, is also spreading its own view according to which members of secular institutes are the only genuine laity!” Congar wrote, astonished.

Indeed, it was a view that Cardijn too would have completely rejected.

Congar adds, however, that Mgr Baron was full of praise for Cardinal Paolo Marella, who had just completed his term as nuncio in France (after also serving in Australia and New Zealand), and who therefore “had a good understanding and supported the French approach.”

Another potential ally at the Vatican!

SOURCE

Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, ATF Press, 2012, 25-35.

Yves Congar, Mon Journal du Concile, T. I, Cerf, Paris, 2002, 43.

Three sub-commissions: More bad news

There was more bad news for Cardijn on 17 October 1960.

The Rome-based members of the PCLA had already met in October to discuss and decide upon the organisation of the work of the commission.

Now Cardinal Cento announced that three sub-commissions were to be created to study three themes: evangelisation, social action and charitable action, with Cardijn appointed to the first of these commissions.

But from Cardijn’s point of view, how could such a division of tasks be reconciled with his vision of lay apostolate transforming the whole of lay life? It was a compartmentalisation that risked reducing evangelisation to its spiritual dimension and confining social and charitable action to their temporal dimensions.

Moreover, it completely contradicted the “incarnational” approach that Cardijn had defended and presented to Pope John just nine months earlier:

“The formation of the disciples of Christ, from whatever social rank, includes this authentic lay apostolate, which will become increasingly urgent and must reach the whole of humanity,” Cardijn had argued.

“And the more we invite the faithful to seek the means to incarnate and realise this spirit, the more the Church will raise up the militants and the apostles that the new world needs in order to be truly animated by the spirit of Christ,” he wrote.

How could lay people be formed to grasp such a mission if the task of evangelisation was to be separated from social and charitable action?

Moreover, at a practical level in terms of the work of the PCLA, Cardijn now found himself sidelined if not excluded from the important work of the social and charitable action sub-commissions.

Nor was Cardijn alone in his concerns. In his history of the drafting process, Ferdinand Klostermann would later write somewhat cryptically of the creation of three sub-commissions: “This division was later to prove a source of difficulty for the commission.”

SOURCES

Achille Glorieux, Histoire du Décret ‘Apostolicam Actuositatem’ sur l’Apostolat des laïcs” in A. Glorieux, R. Goldie, Y. Congar, H.-R. Weber, G. Hasenhüttl, J. Grootaers, M-J. Beccaria, P. Toulat et H. Küng, L’Apostolat des Laïcs, Décret “Apostolicam actuositatem” (Sous la direction de Y. Congar), Séries Unam Sanctam 75, Cerf, Paris, 1970, 91-140.

Ferdinand Klostermann, “Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, History of the text,” in Herbert Vorgrimler (editor), Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, Volume III, Herder and Herder, 1969, 273.

Joseph Cardijn, Priests and the social doctrine of the Church (Archives Cardijn 1299) (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Catholic Action a ‘non-doctrinal’ matter

Sebastian Tromp S

While Cardijn worked away in the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate, Yves Congar joined the corresponding Theological Commission.

To Congar’s disconcertment, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani opened the 15 November plenary meeting announcing that there were to be five pre-determined sub-commissions to look at the various proposed schemas.

“We will be told what the members of the Commission have said and we may express our opinion, but it is not a question of writing a treatise,” Congar noted in his diary.

“We must confine ourselves to specific and necessary points,” he added, explaining the limitations on his own role as a theologian in the commission, limitations that evidently also applied to Cardijn in the PCLA.

More positively, Congar notes that the Commission will be unable to commence work on “matters of social morality” because the drafting of an encyclical for the 70th anniversary of Rerum Novarum is under way.

Intriguingly, he also adds that in the view of the conservative Dutch Jesuit, Fr Sebastian Tromp, who was the secretary to the Theological Commission, “Catholic Action and the laity are almost entirely PRACTICAL questions to be dealt with by a non-doctrinal commission created ad hoc.”

What this would mean for the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate was not clear.

SOURCE

Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, ATF Press, 2012, 25-35.

Tromp, Sebastiaan Peter Cornelis (1889-1975) (Huygens Ing)

The PCLA starts work

After the pomp and ceremony of the previous day, finally the first plenary meeting of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate (PCLA) began on 15 November 1960.

No doubt Cardijn and his colleagues must have felt a sense of anticipation if not excitement to learn more about the task that they had been given.

They did not have long to wait because, after analysing the vota, i.e. the responses received from bishops conferences around the world, the Central Commission had decided upon the three major subjects the PCLA would tackle.

These were:

I. The apostolate of the laity:

Determine the domain and the goals of this apostolate and its relations with the hierarchy. What are the best means for the apostolate of the laity to respond to current necessities?

II. Catholic Action:

1. To determine the notion, the domain and its subordination to the hierarchy;

2. Review its constitution in order that it be better adapted to our times;

3. Determine the relations between Catholic Action and the other associations (Marian congregations, pious unions, professional unions, etc.)

III. Associations:

To study how the activity of existing associations could better respond during our time to the ends that they propose (charitable and social action).”

Whatever sense of elation Cardijn felt at the opening of the session must have quickly evaporated upon reading these terms of reference.

A stark contrast

Just nine years earlier in October 1951, he had opened the First World Congress on Lay Apostolate with his landmark keynote speech “The world today and the apostolate of the laity.”

Drawing on his Three Truths dialectic and See Judge Act method, he had laid out the problems and issues facing the world, which ranged from demographic challenges to industrialisation, changes in the workforce, racism and colonialism as well as to cultural transformations and the arms race.

He had contrasted this reality with the Christian vision for humanity based on the “Creator’s plan of love.” And finally Cardijn had set out his own conception of a transformative, organised Christian lay apostolate:

“· Christians who intensively live their Christianity, their belonging to Jesus Christ ; who consciously live His message, His Gospel, in all their personal life, in all its worldly demands . . .

· Christians who are conscious of an explicit mission, who know that they are called to work for the extension of the reign of God . . .

· Christians who penetrate all the sectors, all the aspects, all the institutions of the modem world, as witnesses of Christ, carrying the doctrine of the Church with them . . .

· Christians who understand the whole importance of forming apostolic communities, of having an organised apostolate …”

And Cardijn’s 18-page 30 October note on “The apostolate of lay people” prepared specifically for the Prep Com further expanded and developed this vision.

Yet how little of Cardijn’s vision was reflected in the tasks given to the Commission.

At best, a faint echo of his concerns can perhaps be detected in the first question submitted to the commission: “What are the best means for the apostolate of the laity to respond to current necessities?”

Clearly, however, there was much greater concern over relations between laity and hierarchy and ensuring the “subordination” of Catholic Action movements as well as to pacify tensions between Catholic Action groups and others with a more “pious” orientation.

Nor did the reference to “charitable and social action” come anywhere near Cardijn’s vision of Christians living the Gospel in their “personal life,” working to “extend the reign of God” or penetrating and transforming the various sectors and institutions of the modern world.

From Cardijn’s point of view, the mission given to the PCLA was not back to the future but back to the past.

After the earlier misunderstanding (and disappointment) over a sub-commission involving lay people, it was not a promising start.

SOURCES

Ferdinand Klostermannn, “Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity,” in Herbert Vorgrimler (ed.), Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, Herder and Herder, New York, 1969,273-404.

Joseph Cardijn, The Three Truths (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Joseph Cardijn, “The world today and the apostolate of the laity,” World Congress on Lay Apostolate, October 1951 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

What a performance!

Cardijn’s friend and colleague, the French Dominican theologian, Yves Congar, who had just launched his own conciliar diary, has left us a colourful if not positively disdainful description of the launch ceremony for the newly constituted preparatory commissions:

“What a performance!” Congar wrote. “Papal gendarmes or Swiss guards in full uniform everywhere. The actual arrangements were impeccable. But what ceremonial, what a display of pomp! We were shown into a tribune, where I went and sat beside Fr de Lubac. The whole length of St Peter’s has been fitted out with tribunes, armchairs. A fantastic equipage of fellows in crimson uniforms, Swiss guards in helmets, holding their halberds with proud bearing. All the colleges in Rome have been mobilised and there were certainly a good ten thousand people present. Why? What a waste of time!

“At about ten minutes past eleven, the Credo was intoned and the Pope came in on foot. It was a good moment. But then the Sistine choir sang a theatrical “Tu es Petrus’: mediocre opera. The 10,000 people, the forty cardinals, the 250 or 300 bishops, said nothing. One only will have the right to speak. As for the Christian people, they are there neither by right nor in fact. I sensed the blind door of the underlying ecclesiology. It is the ostentatious ceremonial of a monarchical power.

“The Pope read a text in Italian which I did not fully understand, but which seemed to me very banal…

“Alas! After giving his blessing (alone, always alone, to the 10,000, the 300, the 40…), the Pope got up and departed, enthroned on the sedia;- stupid applause. The Pope made a gesture as if to say: alas, I can do nothing about it,” Congar concluded.

We have no record of Cardijn’s own feelings about the ceremony but Congar’s comments probably offer a good proxy – except that the JOC founder would, as always, have sought to focus on the positives of the event.

Moreover, Cardijn would have quickly latched onto the fact that among the large number of bishops and priests who were present, he did have allies, beginning with Congar.

These allies, whose presence is noted by Congar, also included the sociologist, Canon Fernand Boulard, the Belgian Dominican, Jérôme Hamer, Cardijn’s publisher Jean-Pierre Dubois-Dumée as well as Cardinal Liénart, Archbishop Emile Guerry and Gabriel Garrone, the latter of whom who had written a book explaining the concept of Specialised Catholic Action and defending it from critics including the Belgian, Léon-Joseph Suenens, an auxiliary bishop in Cardijn’s own diocese of Malines-Brussels.

SOURCE

Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council, ATF Press, 2012, 25.

John launches the Preparatory Commissions

On 14 November 1960, Pope John delivered a major speech to the cardinals, bishops, prelates, priests and religious who had been called to take part in the ten Preparatory Commissions for the Council.

He began by noting that “the Ecumenical Councils of the past responded mainly to concerns of doctrinal accuracy, various and important about the lex credendi, to the extent that heresies and errors tried to penetrate the ancient Church in the East and the West.”

He highlighted the contributions of five previous major Councils of Nicaea, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Trent and Vatican I. He added that “the occasion for the gathering of the other fifteen Ecumenical Councils… was offered by various circumstances, and by the concern to safeguard, yes, the purity of the Church’s teaching on various points of doctrine, but also to the affirmation and direction of consciences disturbed in the face of events of a religious and political nature, in different nations or contingencies, referring however almost always to the supreme tasks of the ecclesiastical magisterium, at the service of order, balance, and social peace.”

Now, he continued, Vatican II needed to face the challenges of the modern world:

“In the modern age of a world with a profoundly changed physiognomy, and struggling to sustain itself amid the charms and dangers of the almost exclusive search for material goods, in the oblivion or in the languishing of the principles of the spiritual and supernatural order, which characterized the penetration and ‘to expand over the centuries of Christian civilization, in the modern age, therefore, rather than to one point or another of doctrine or discipline that should be referred to the pure sources of Revelation and tradition, it is a question of restoring value and splendor , the substance of human and Christian thinking and living of which the Church has been the custodian and teacher over the centuries.

“On the other hand, the deploration of the deviations of the human spirit tempted and pushed towards the sole enjoyment of the goods of the earth, which the modernity of scientific research now places easily within the reach of the children of our time, is certainly serious and even necessary. God guard us, however, not to exaggerate its proportions, to the point of making us believe that God’s skies are now definitively closed above our heads, that truly tenebrae factae sint super universam terram , and that there is nothing left to do but sprinkle our tiring journey of tears.

“Instead, we must take courage,” he said.

Great things were expected in fact, he continued:

“Great things indeed – we love to repeat – We expect from this Council, which wants to be able to reinvigorate faith, doctrine, ecclesiastical discipline, religious and spiritual life, and also a great contribution to the reaffirmation of those principles of the Christian order, on which the developments of civil, economic, political and social life also inspire and govern. The law of the Gospel must reach there and envelop and penetrate everything, everything, even what comes to us de rore caeli et de pinguedine terrae(11). Yes: to go there, which involves a conscious, elevated, sincere participation of all the components of the social order – priesthood and laity; established authorities; intellectual activities: work – social order completely occupied by the concern for the perfect union of the relations between heaven and earth: between uncertain and dangerous present life, and future eternal and very happy life in the proportion of our correspondence as men and Christians to the gifts of mercy of the Lord.’

SOURCE

Address of the Holy Father John XXIII to the cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, prelates, priests and religious, called to be part of the preparatory commissions and secretariats of the II Vatican Council, Vatican Basilica, Monday 14 November 1960 (Vatican website)

Bishop Paul-Emile Charbonneau, auxiliary of Ottawa

Paul-Emile Charbonneau

On 14 November 1960, Pope John XXIII announced the appointment of Paul-Emile Charbonneau as auxiliary bishop of Ottawa, Canada.

Bishop Charbonneau will later become the president of the Canadian bishops Commission for Catholic Action and the Lay Apostolate.

SOURCE

Bishop Paul-Emile Charbonneau (Catholic Hierarchy)

Décès de Mgr Paul-Émile Charbonneau, évêque émérite de Gatineau (Conférence des Evêques Catholiques de Canada)