New Management Committee for COPECIAL

Ramon Sugranyes de Franch

On 6 August 1959, L’Osservatore Romano announced the appointment by Pope John XXIII of a new management committee for COPECIAL, following the departure of Vittorino Veronese, who had been appointed secretary-general of UNESCO.

The six members were:

  • Silvio Golzio, president of the committee. Golzio was a professor of statistics at the University of Turin and director of the Piedmont Hydro-Electric Company. He was also president of the Movimento laureati, the Italian Catholic Action movement for Graduates.
  • Jean-Pierre Dubois-Dumée, a French publisher, who was then working with Cardijn for the eventual publication of a book.
  • Prince Karl zu Lôwenstein, a German nobleman, who was also the president of the Central Committee of German Catholics.
  • Claude Ryan, secretary-general of Catholic Action in English-speaking Canada.
  • Ramon Sugranyes, a Catalan exile living in Switzerland, who played a significant role in the foundation of Pax Romana ICMICA and in the organisation of the World Congresses on Lay Apostolate.
  • Juan Vasquez, an Argentine mathematics professor who also worked for the Argentine Ministry of Transport. He was also responsible for international relations for the Central Committee of Catholic Action in Argentina and president of the International Federation of Catholic Youth.

There was an obvious absence of worker representation here and, no doubt after some feedback if not protest, this was remedied by the addition of three more members:

  • Marguerite Fiévez, Belgian former leader of the JOC Internationale, now working as Cardijn’s personal secretary.
  • Patrick Keegan, another former leader of the JOC Internationale, originally from Britain, now involved with developing an adult lay apostolate in the UK and also coordinator of “The Team,” an exclusive group of mainly former YCW leaders devoted to the lay apostolate.
  • Martin Work, an American, who was secretary-general of the National Council of Catholic Men of the USA.


Bernard Minvielle, L’apostolat des laïcs à la veille du Concile (1949-1959)

Golzio, Silvio (Treccani)

Ramon Sugranyes de Franch (Website)

Ramon Sugranyes de Franch (

Tribute to Ramon Sugranyes de Franch (Pax Romana ICMICA)

Karl, 8th Prince of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg (Wikipedia)


Ramon Sugranyes

Goldie replies to Cardijn

Rosemary Goldie - Cardijn 18 06 1959

On 18 June 1859, Rosemary Goldie responded to Cardijn, expressing regret that Cardijn was unable to join the COPECIAL meeting in Montallegro.

“I think you will have heard from Marguerite (Fiévez) about it,” she wrote. “We were very pleased with it. Apart from the intrinsic interest of the discussions – I am thinking, in particular, of those which followed Monsignor (Gerard) Philips’ theological presentation and of the presentation itself – the suggestions received and the collaborations acquired will be very valuable for the development of our work…

Gerard Philips was of course the Belgian theologian, who had published extensively on the theology of the laity, albeit not completely in the Cardijn line.

“In the meantime, I hope you have received the section of the meeting report devoted to theological discussion. The other part is well under way and will be sent to you as soon as possible. It will contain a very comprehensive summary of all the discussions on the work of the Permanent Committee.

“You asked me whether, from the perspective of the Council, we should not consider, “a special study on the apostolate of the laity and contact with non-Christians,” Goldie continued, responding to the concerns expressed by Cardijn.

“I completely agree, but seems to me that this study could fall within the framework of the initiatives that will be undertaken, in collaboration with the ICO Conference, to follow up the Resolution adopted in Luxembourg concerning the creation of a Commission which will have to look to any directives from the ecclesiastical authorities. engaging the help of the laity in view of the Council. (In formulating this very general resolution, possible contacts with non-Catholics were indeed considered.)

“On 12 July, I will participate on behalf of our Committee, in a first small meeting in Paris to study the implementation. of this Resolution,” Goldie concluded.


French original

Rosemary Goldie – Cardijn 1959 06 18 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Rosemary Goldie – Cardijn 1959 06 18 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Formation and ecumenism key issues for the Council

Rosemary Goldie 1964

On 9 June 1959, Cardijn wrote to Rosemary Goldie, an Australian who had studied theology in Paris who was now working at the COPECIAL secretariat in Rome, to thank and congratulate her on the publication of the three volume proceedings of the Second World Congress on Lay Apostolate in 1957.

But, as always, Cardijn also took the opportunity to raise other issues, particularly formation for the lay apostolate for both priests and lay people.

“The leaders of the Permanent Committee know how much I am concerned with the formation of lay people for the apostolate; essential formation

  • for priests (all priests) who must understand the need for it and be capable of ensuring its realisation in all milieux but particularly in the world of work;
  • to the militants and lay leaders themselves, who are directly responsible for ensuring this formation in the life of the masses of these different milieux.

“As long as all clergy, like all laity, fail to be imbued with the need for this formation and do not seek to adapt it, especially to the life problems of young adults, I fear that an effective response will not be given. to the predominant needs of the modern world,” Cardijn wrote.

“I ardently hope that the Permanent Committee will continue and extend its research on the formation of an authentic Christian laity, to the dimension of this world which is expanding in all fields. With respect to this, would it not be the moment to do a special study on the apostolate of the laity and contact with non-Christians, the union of Churches, etc.?

“I believe that this is an important aspect of the ecumenism issue and for the preparation of the Council,” he concluded, showing that preparation for Vatican II was already becoming a key concern.


French original

Cardijn – Rosemary Goldie 1959 06 09 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Cardijn – Rosemary Goldie 1959 06 09 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Ruth Lee, Goldie, Rosemary (The Encyclopaedia of Women and Leadership in XXth century Australia)

Need for a Church Institution on the apostolate of the laity

Cardijn - Castelli 25 03 1959

On 25 March 1959, Cardijn wrote to Mgr Alberto Castelli, the vice-president of the Ecclesiastical Commission of the Permanent Committee for International Lay Apostolate Congresses (COPECIAL), to propose that the committee should look at expanding and upgrading its aims and resources at its forthcoming conference in Montallegro.

“Looking at the program, I regret that only relatively secondary problems, e.g. initiatives to be taken, etc., will be discussed at the planned meeting,” Cardijn wrote.

“Has not the time come to reflect together on the essential goals of the Permanent Committee, its ongoing role, and consequently to present to the Holy See, respectfully and in an attitude of very filial submission, suggestions regarding its structure and its activity. I know very well that this question was already briefly raised at a meeting by Miss Fiévez, but I personally wish to return to this question and emphasise its whole importance, because I believe that it is the key of the future of the Committee itself. I spoke to Mr Veronese about this several times and provided him with written notes on the subject.

“When we look the new structures of the world of today and tomorrow, the primordial importance of the formation of the laity in view of their irreplaceable apostolate in this new world, the need to form priests who are educators and animators lay apostles; the urgency of coordinating the apostolate of the laity and organising it in line with today’s world; the need for an insertion of this lay apostolate into the overall apostolate of the Church and its unbreakable link with the Hierarchy… when one penetrates the concrete and living content of these problems which require a positive and dynamic solution, one cannot avoid the conclusion that there is a need for a Church Institution – Dicastery, Commission, Congregation, whatever name is given to it – which can inform, inform, propose, suggest and study overall or partial solutions based on enquiries, studies and experiences that are properly evaluated and tested.

“And since all these problems are inseparable – problems of young people and adults; problems of formation, action and organisation; specialisation and coordination issues; problems of exchanges, achievements and representation; financial problems and management training problems – this Institution must have the resources to provide both documentation and expertise and above all, it needs to have sufficient authority, both in terms of the value and experience of its leaders as well as enjoying the confidence both of Hierarchical Authorities and lay organisations or institutions.

“When I think of the resources available certain world secular institutions, I can only regret the insufficiency and powerlessness of a Permanent Committee that needs to become the engine and the inspiration for so many people, acting individually or collectively, who have only one desire with respect to the problems in all continents and in every, namely to serve the Church and spread the Reign of Christ in a world that needs and aspires to it more than at any other time in history,” Cardijn concluded.

It was a theme that he would return to many times in the future.


Original French

Cardijn – Castelli 25 03 1959 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Cardijn – Castelli 25 03 1959 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)