TV interview planned

On 27 March 1963, Delarge wrote to Cardijn outlining a proposal for him to visit Paris on 27 April to record a television interview to promote the forthcoming book.


Archives Cardijn 1778

Cardijn responds to Suenens’ critique

Soon after receiving a series of corrections to the book manuscript proposed by Uylenbroeck, Cardijn responded with a note explaining his own position.


1 On Catholic Action – p. 21 of the proof

I’m afraid that by inserting the proposed note, I’m raising an issue that is completely foreign to my book and my intentions.

2- On the lay apostolate of lay people

I’m afraid that this expression – especially if it’s repeated insistently – might bring to mind changes in structures (social apostolate). It’s more a question of an apostolate of evangelisation, enabling lay people to discover and realise their divine mission, in their own lives, their own environment, their own problems (see Pius XII’s 1957 address to the YCW). This is the aspect of the proper apostolate of the laity that the book aims to emphasise, and that I have emphasised all my life working with young workers.

I have never thought of this transformation of structures when I spoke of the lay apostolate.

+ + + + +

I propose two footnotes

1 – On the use of the expression “Action Catholique” (p. 21)

2 – On itempiai, the aspect of the lay apostolate I deal with in this book

book (p. 23)

+ + + + + 

I quote “The Church on mission” several times.

The entire third part of the book deals with the formation of lay people, in view of their entire apostolate.

Humanize before Christianizing: p. 23 (suggested note)

To me, this is not the problem. It’s not about that, nor is it about changing structures. My book is not written with the intention of discussing these problems. I’d rather not talk about them.



Archives Cardijn 1777

Larrain: Book will be a great service to the Lay Apostolate Commission

On 10 March 1963, Bishop Larrain’s secretary, Fr Huidobro, replied on his behalf to Cardijn’s request for commentary on his book manuscript, signalling the “great service” that the book would provide for the drafting work of the Lay Apostolate Commission.


Archives Cardijn 1608

Stefan Gigacz, The Leaven in the Council, Chapter 8, Suenens vs Cardijn, Lay people in the frontlines (Australian Cardijn Institute)

Fievez’s confidential remarks

Deeply upset by Suenens’ modus operandi (as well as his “notorious” views on Catholic Action and lay apostolate, Marguerite Fiévez wrote a confidential note recording the way in which Suenens’ opposition to Cardijn’s text was made known to him, not directly but through intermediaries, including Cardijn’s adjunct as international chaplain of the YCW, Marcel Uylenbroeck.


These handwritten notes date from March 1963. They refer to the differences of opinion between Cardinal Suenens and Mgr Cardijn, on the occasion of the publication of the latter’s book “Laics en Premières Lignes”.

As is customary, Mgr Cardijn had submitted the proof of his book to the archdiocese in order to obtain the Imprimatur. As it turned out, Cardinal Suenens didn’t share Mgr Cardijn’s views on the laity, Catholic Action, etc. (it was common knowledge), so the Cardinal saw fit to ask Mgr Cardijn indirectly for changes to the text submitted for ecclesiastical censorship.

It happened as follows:

The censor, Mgr Ceuppens, called Abbé Uylenbroeck, Mgr Cardijn’s assistant, to Mechelen to inform him of the points to be changed, inviting him to obtain these changes from Mgr Cardijn. Cardijn would no doubt accept them better in a conversation with his deputy, and above all, the Cardinal would not be implicated.

Cardijn was very surprised and saddened, both by the Cardinal’s desire to obtain changes which affected his own conception of Catholic Action, and by the procedure employed, which in a way deflected responsibility.

Leaving the same day for a tour of Germany, he refused to act without thinking.

The first two points of the handwritten notes are nothing compared to the disarray that had seized him:

  1. Suffering: first time (that he had disagreed with hierarchical authority on the essentials of his thinking)
  2. Apostolate of my whole life (he couldn’t see the possibility of changing anything essential in his text, without denying what he had always affirmed and for which he had been unconditionally supported by the Popes and numerous bishops and theologians).

Please consult the files relating to the edition of the work, for the precise points in dispute.

On his return from Germany, Cardijn went to Mechelen on April 8, where he was once again shocked by the apparently cordial and fraternal welcome he received from the Cardinal, who embraced him, denying that there was “anything” between them.



Archives Cardijn 1777

1963 03 15 – Fiévez – Confidential note

Suenens transmits to Cardijn his “divergences” on the manuscript

On 15 March 1963 – having received a copy of the manuscript in October 1962 and after the contract for publishing had been signed, Suenens finally transmitted a list of “remarks” concerning his book manuscript.

Instead o f sending them directly, these remarks “made by His Eminence (were) transmitted by the (Diocesan) Censor and Fr Uylenbroeck.”

As always, Suenens opposed Cardijn’s conception of Specialised Catholic Action and lay apostolate, insisting on lay people playing a separate “active role in the work of evangelisation.”



(15 March, 1963) (Handwritten note by Marguerite Fiévez)

1- As far as the terminology used is concerned, the Council, the Bishops and the diocesan authorities consider that General Catholic Action is as fully valid as specialised Catholic Action, and do not accept it being said that CA is essentially specialised CA. This in no way prevents each Bishop from judging the application of local priorities.

2- Instead of saying that the layperson’s proper role is formally the Christianisation of the temporal, he affirms (His Eminence) that the layperson’s proper and formal role is twofold: on the one hand, it is his proper role to take an active role in the work of evangelisation, by preparing, supporting and prolonging priestly action; on the other hand, it is his proper role under his exclusive responsibility — to Christianise the temporal.

3- Instead of saying that evangelising action must first pass through temporal action, he affirms a connection and an independent relationship between the two actions. Cfr. Humaniser pour évangéliser, in L’Eglise en Etat de mission.


Archives Cardijn 1777

Stefan Gigacz, The Leaven in the Council, Chapter 8, Suenens vs Cardijn, Lay people in the frontlines (Australian Cardijn Institute)