Cardijn delivered a stirring closing address to the Rio International Council on 6 November 1961.
Excellencies, Most Reverend Archbishop, Bishops, Your Excellency the Minister of Labour, Distinguished Ambassadors,
Representatives of the various countries which have their embassies here in Brazil, representatives of major international Catholic action, charitable action, social action organisations and major international institutions and
My dear delegates from all countries of the whole world,
A closing session is a little melancholic because we are sad to be leaving each other. It’s like the end of a stay of with friends, a fraternal stay. Yet, in the International YCW, closing sessions are now and always joyful sessions in which we have an overflowing feeling of gratitude and thanksgiving for all the good things we have shared during the national and international meetings and I am not going to repeat the words of thanks of our president.
Oh, what a truly Brazilian welcome we received here in Petropolis from the whole population of Brazil, the government, the hierarchy, all the churches of Brazil, including a sermon and a special collection last Sunday that united them with our international gathering.
Truly the Brazilian people are fully one with the INTERNATIONAL YCW and now that we have a Brazilian international president this link will continue to deepen and become stronger so that the young workers of the world will know that Brazil and the whole of Latin America is united with the needs and aspirations of the young workers of the world.
Yes, the joy of the work that was achieved during this meeting, the friendships that were made, the exchanges that took place. Ah! what supernatural, apostolic friendship we are witnessing for the first time. We come from Japan, India, South Africa and we immediately become a family, a team, an inseparable group of young people united by the same ideal, united by the same desire.
And this what makes the joy of our hearts overflow. It’s not just us who feel this joy. It is also shared by the cardinals, bishops and all the international organisations who sent us messages, including the Holy Father himself. And I have the honour and power here before you to express my thanks to the Holy Father, a thanks that is expressed by the honours he has bestowed today during this international council on those who have led the immense organisation of the YCW during the last few years. I am authorised to give the decoration of Commander of the Order of St Gregory to Romeo Maione.
This joy of the present and the past overflows in our hearts, but today yet another joy exceeds this joy of the past and the present. It is the joy of hope for the future that we are going to build in this world to which we want to give a new working youth, a working youth animated by an ideal of fraternity, justice, respect among all the peoples of the earth. This hope is expressed first in the choice of the new international committee and the new president. This is the value of the YCW!
Not only has the YCW given worker leaders to the working class of the world, not only has it given hundreds of thousands of new working families who love this education of their children and who are able to give to the various peoples of the world children who in the future will no longer be second class citizens nor underdeveloped children nor children condemned to hunger and the misery of the lack of genuine human conditions; but thousands and thousands of working families prepared for their holy mission here below to be collaborators with God, procreators of a new youth, a new working class.
And this is why together, yes, we will not only found a new committee, like all the committees which for 50 years have been formed by the YCW and which have succeeded one another with value, with an increasingly larger mission in the world. But now having voted our program of action, we must go back to the essential characteristics of the YCW.
Here, we are here simply the representatives of the young workers of the world, the YCW, who are first of all the young workers of the land of Africa, Asia, all continents and all countries. And the essential character of the YCW is to teach them by themselves, among themselves, by themselves, to understand their value, to understand their mission. And that is why the great program will only be genuinely YCW if we develop the YCW in all the municipalities, in all the cities, in all the centres where young workers live. Whether they are Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus or Muslims, we want to give all the young workers of the earth the knowledge and not simply the knowledge but a realisation of their dignity as a Son of God, a collaborator of God.
The YCW is not for an elite, the YCW is not for a minority, the YCW is not for a privileged few, not the elite. In the YCW, the militants of the YCW, the leaders of the JOC must go to the masses, know the masses, love the masses, become friends of the poorest and most humble young workers who understand their dedication, their ideals and thus slowly win over this ideal of international brotherhood.
Young workers from one continent need to understand the needs of young workers from other continents. There must soon be a real new working youth in the world, one not represented by a few young workers who have understood the mission of the YCW in the world, but who can speak both to governments and to the Church, in international institutions on behalf of all the young workers of the earth.
Yes! Now, we are beginning a decisive step, we need to extend the YCW, we need to deepen the YCW. It is the only solution to the problems of the immense class, the immense working population. It will not be bombs, nor violence and hatred that will succeed in saving not only the youth, but all peoples and all humanity, it will be the knowledge of the divine dignity of the poorest and most humble workers of the earth.
Yes ! the mission is great and it is God and it is Christ who sends us to the hundreds of millions, to the billions of workers of the earth. And that is why our hope is not a utopia, our hope is not a deception, our hope will not disappoint the young workers of the world, because in our heart lives the love of Christ who sends us, who sustains us and it is He who, through us, wants to save the young workers of all races and all continents.
Forward with the grace of Christ, under the leadership of the Church, we will save all the working youth of the whole world.
Discours de clôture – Conseil Mondial JOC – Rio de Janeiro (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)
Joseph Cardijn, Closing address to the YCW International Council in Rio de Janeiro 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)