At the end of its November 1960 Executive Committee in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the JOC Internationale issued a statement summarising its views and desires for the coming Council.
The announcement and preparation of the Council had kindled “hopes” among JOC leaders and chaplains working for the evangelisation of the masses of young workers around the world, the statement entitled “Concile Oecuménique,” (The Ecumenical Council), opened.
In line with the movement’s method, it began by outlining the conditions and milieux experienced by more than 300 million young workers and “the ever growing importance of the problem of young workers. “
“Not only is the number of workers and young salaried workers increasing dramatically, but the progress of technology, advertising, international solidarity, the expansion of ideologies and materialistic conceptions of life, the insufficiency and the monstrous inequality of the living standards of the innumerable masses of working-class families has temporal, moral and spiritual consequences that are difficult to ignore,” the statement continued.
“The anguish felt as a result of these consequences, which may be disastrous for millions of human persons and for the future of human society, despite the hopes that humanity should reasonably be able to place in technical progress, strongly motivates the leaders mandated by the Church for the apostolate among young workers, to appeal, humbly but earnestly, to all those responsible for the preparation of the Council and to the Council itself, in order that doctrinal teaching may be provided and a pastoral orientation set out that enlightens and guides the action of Catholics throughout the world in union with all people of good will, in the field of building a modern human society that corresponds to God’s plan in all its technical, social and economic aspects, etc..,” the statement continued.
The launching of a special preparatory commission on the apostolate of the laity had “delighted lay people all over the world, who, by collaborating with priests and in humble submission to the Hierarchy, work for the Kingdom of God in the world and for the extension of the Church.”
The proper role of the laity
The statement called on the Commission and the Council to “clearly define the proper role of the laity in the Church and in the world, the need for their apostolic formation and the mission of the apostolic movements of the laity.”
There was a “unanimous desire of all movement leaders” for the Council’s decisions to “give a definitive impetus to the apostolate of young workers among their brothers and sisters as well as in their communities, to the concerns of the Hierarchy and the priests to form and animate these young worker apostles.”
In what appears to be a subtle reference to opposition to or lack of support for the movement, it also called for an impetus “to the development of apostolic workers movements and to the integration of the efforts of the organised laity into the Church’s overall pastoral care.”
Mobilising the national movements
The statement also called on JOC national movements to promote “an understanding of the importance of the coming Council for the future of the Church and a desire to actively contribute to its success through prayer and sacrifice.”
And it called on JOC national movements to mobilise in order to “explain the situation of young workers in their country, the efforts they are making to find a solution, the problems they meet in their activity and the desires they would formulate for the progress of their apostolate to the Hierarchy and to the Preparatory Commission on the Apostolate of the Laity.”
“The current enthusiastic action of the YCW to spread the doctrine and the life of the Church among the masses of young workers is a sure pledge of the efforts that they will make in the future, after the Council, to put its decisions into practice in order to build together a more united, happier humanity, more in love with justice and charity, more based on human dignity and on the recognition of the Father of all men, of the One he has sent, Jesus Christ, the Universal Saviour and of the Church and Its Fullness throughout the ages,” the statement concluded.
No doubt Cardijn packed many copies of the statement as he prepared to leave for Rome for the first plenary meeting of the Preparatory Commission.
JOC Internationale, Concile Oecuménique, (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)
JOC Internationale, The Ecumenical Council (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)