Note 4 from Lomé, Togo

Note 4

It may be Christmas but Cardijn has not stopped working. In Lomé, Togo for a Pan-African Leaders Training session organised by the JOC Internationale, he completes Note 4 written at the specific request of the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate on the theme “Priests and lay people in the apostolate.”

It totals 3500 words. Together with Note 1, 3800 words, Note 2, 845, Note 3, 5200, it means Cardijn has written over 13,000 words for the Commission in just under two months – all the while maintaining his already punishing travel and workload – and at the age of 78.

Note 4 begins with a preamble in which Cardijn again insists on placing the apostolate of priests and lay people in the context of the situation of the world and the need to build the “Kingdom or Reign of God.”

“The apostolate is the essential mission of the Church and of all the faithful in the Church; and through the Church, the whole of humanity,” he began. “This fact demands more and more study, attention and vigilance, because of all the problems that the apostolate needs to helps solve both humanly and in a Christian manner, and the solution of which will largely determine the salvation of humanity, the restoration of the Kingdom of God and its Son of Love.”

“These problems have now reached a previously unknown depth, extent, and rate of increase.

“Demographic, scientific, technical, economic, social, cultural, political, international problems: All these issues involve multiple aspects and provoke a variety of human, moral and religious responses; all these issues underlie all the various tensions between developed peoples and underdeveloped peoples, between races, between colonising countries and colonised countries, between social classes; all these issues are subject to the pressure of opposing ideological aspirations and propaganda, in a world that is increasingly unified and inseparable.

“All of these problems have an essential human, moral and religious aspect that determines the value of their solution. Depending on whether these essential aspects are respected or not, solutions will be effective or ineffective for the authentic progress of humanity and therefore for the establishment of the Reign of God and of Christ in the world which is being built.

“All these problems of life and organisation of the world are the domain of the laity; they fall into the areas of lay institutions and responsibility. It is lay people who need to provide human and Christian solutions which alone will be able to establish the Reign of God and peace among men.

“This is why lay people who are responsible for seeking and implementing this solution need to have an apostolic and missionary conception of their life and their mission in the world. This is the primordial role of the lay apostolate, whether it is organised or carried out on an individual basis.

“As a result of this, the apostolate of the laity is becoming increasingly important. This is now impossible unless lay people receive training and animation that is adequate for this purpose. This training and animation can only result from collaboration with priests who are ordained and consecrated for this purpose: this formation and this animation needs to transform the life and mission of the laity into an apostolic life and mission, which is inseparable from the priestly apostolate. The whole of the apostolate is an indissoluble whole.

“It is this vision of the importance and the worldwide necessity of the apostolate, in particular of the lay apostolate, which inspires:

  • the following reflections on “Priests and lay people in the apostolate”;
  • the proposal of formulas to be inserted into the Acts of the Council,” Cardijn argues.

Unity and collaboration between priests and lay people

Moving on to characterise this apostolate, he insists from the outset that there is only “one single apostolate” shared between priests and lay people.

“1. There is only one apostolate, the source and purpose of which are common to all who are called to it and who exercise it. But the exercise and applications of this apostolate are diverse – albeit inseparable – depending on the roles of those who are called and consecrated with a view to the common goal.

“2. There is only one divine Apostle, sent by the Father: Christ, Jesus, God-Man, who calls and sends all the other apostles as his Father sent him:

a) to restore the Kingdom of God, on earth as in heaven, in time as in eternity;

b) to call and consecrate all his collaborators, at all times and among all peoples, for the roles and services required for the restoration of this Kingdom (the Church: mystical body of Christ).

“3. The establishment and restoration of God needs to reach people first, each person in particular and all people together as well as all of their religious needs; these also need to reach and modify temporal structures themselves so that they are not an obstacle but on the contrary a support for the life of this Kingdom,” Cardijn explains.

Based on baptism and confirmation, the apostolate of lay people “does not remain confined within the Church.” Indeed, it extends not only to other Christians but non-Christians as well, Cardijn argues.

“It becomes increasingly missionary, extending to non-members of the Church, whether Christians or non-Christians; by collaborating with them, Christians will assist them to rediscover and realise the human and divine mission for which they were created by God and redeemed by Christ.

Nor does he accept a division of labour that would see priests as exclusively responsible for the spiritual domain while lay people retain responsiblity for the secular world.

“The apostolate of lay people is not limited to the transformation of minds and hearts,” Crdijn writes, “but tends to the transformation of secular environments and institutions which, from the local level to the international level, need to enable people, families and societies to create a social human order which which will promote the development of the human race and the universal restoration of the Reign of God: ‘Instaurare omnia in Christo’.”

Distinct but inseparable roles

While priests and lay people have distinct roles, he argues, these roles are nevertheless inseparable.

“Without the priestly apostolate there is no lay apostolate, no apostolic transformation of the life of lay people,” Cardijn says. “Without the apostolate of the laity, the apostolate is powerless for the human and Christian transformation of the world.

“Union and collaboration between priests and lay people is therefore essential to the unity of the Church and of her mission, to the development of the whole apostolate and in particular of the lay apostolate.

“This collaboration is essential, whatever the immediate objective of the lay apostolate:

a) ecclesial objective: catechesis, liturgy, sacraments – parish, diocesan or supra-diocesan life – etc.

b) temporal, secular objective: Properly lay life in all its aspects, in which they must discover and realise its divine, apostolic and missionary value (family, work, leisure, economic security, cooperation in the city, national and international relations, etc. .)

“Regarding the first objective, it can be said that lay people are collaborators in the priestly apostolate.

“Regarding the second, priests are the sacerdotal collaborators in the apostolate of lay people. They have an eminently priestly role there: not only do they represent the Hierarchy and provide official approval or mandate, but above all they form, help, support and advise the laity in taking up their own responsibility, in all aspects and dimensions of their work and apostolate.

SOURCES

Original French

Joseph Cardijn, Note 4 – Prêtres et laïcs dans l’apostolat (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, Note 4 – Priests and lay people in the apostolate (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library

Two essential, primordial and inseparable aspects

Note 2

Having responded to the proposed plan of work of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate in Note 3 “Reflections and suggestions”, Cardijn now drafts another document, Note 2, entitled “The apostolate of lay people.” Freed from his shackles, he summarises in a single elegant page his own vision not only for the Commission but for the Council as a whole.

He begins:

“The apostolate of lay people has two essential, primordial and inseparable aspects:

1. Its relationship with God, Christ and the Church; with the plan of God in the work of Creation and Redemption.

2. Its relationship with the fundamental problems of man and the world, with their influences and their depth, in their total dimension.”

“In the texts of the Ecumenical Council on the apostolate of lay people,” Cardijn asks, can one not bring out these two aspects: the divine, Christian, ecclesial, and at the same time the fundamental link with the problems of the world and their solution.”

Simply put, Cardijn is proposing that the Council organising its work around two poles: God, Christ and the Church on one hand and humankind and the world on the other.

He goes on to detail these two poles and the indissoluble link between them in terms that can scarcely be summarised or improved upon:

I. RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, CHRIST AND THE CHURCH

God, Creator and end of the world and of humanity, has given to each person and to the whole of humanity a terrestrial and eternal mission and intervenes in history to ensure the realisation of this mission (citations from Genesis and other texts of the Old Testament).

Christ, Eternal Son of the Father, became incarnate to repair original sin; it is a matter of man and humanity to raise them up and assist them to accomplish their terrestrial mission and achieve their eternal destiny (citations from the Old and New Testaments).

The Church, founded by Christ is animated with his Spirit; it is extension of him and his Mystical Body, visibly and invisibly helps, guides and assists bought back humanity in view of the achievement of its divine and human mission until the end of time (Old and New Testament, Tradition and History of the Church).

II. RELATIONSHIP WITH PROBLEMS OF MAN AND THE WORLD

At this moment of history that is witnessing the transformation of the world in view of its humanisation, the apostolate of lay people is more important, necessary, irreplaceable and urgent than ever for the Christian solution of worldly problems.

  • Demographic problems, international solidarity and mutual aid in every field (material and spiritual, economic and social, cultural, human and religious;
  • problems of work and its organisation, technology, advertising and leisure that must serve to raise humanity and not to enslave it;
  • problem of education in general and above adult education: for families, social, national and international life; world institutions, ideologies and religions.

III. INDISSOLUBLE LINK BETWEEN THE TWO ASPECTS

One cannot insist enough on the indissoluble link that makes these complementary aspects of the apostolate of lay people an inseparable reality.

The link, the unity between the two aspects and the following consequences:

a) On one hand:

  • the necessity and the importance of the apostolate of lay people for the accomplishment of the divine plan and for the positive and human solution of the most decisive problems of the present time;
  • the respect, dignity, responsibility that flow from it, for the most humble as well as for the greatest of men, of whatever race and whatever colour they may be;
  • the necessity of a consciousness of all the indispensable conditions for this apostolate, conditions that must be adequately safeguarded (linkage to God, Christ and the Church, recourse to sacramental sources, etc.)

b) On the other hand:

  • the necessity of formation for the apostolate with competence from a double point of view (a) knowledge of God and his plan (b) knowledge of man and the world today.

All the other consequences of action, adaptation, specialisation and organisation of the apostolate of lay people flow from this double aspect and from the global dimension of the problems. Among others are the following:

1. the character simultaneously social, cultural and representative of apostolic organisations from the local to the international level

2. the indissoluble link between formation, action and organisation in view of the apostolate;

3. the specialisation and coordination necessary for the effectiveness both of their action and their representation;

4. the participation of Christians in the battle against the great human scourges: hunger, sickness, social insecurity, illiteracy.

The diverse consequences, far from being the result of an arbitrary will, are increasingly demanded by the complexity of the present world and the apostolic task that each Christian must fulfil.”

A proposed program for the Council

This is in effect Cardijn’s proposed plan of work not just for the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate but for the whole Council itself.

“The whole world expects much of the Ecumenical Council in every field and for every problem.

“It would be a bitter disappointment if these various fields and problems were not clearly mentioned and targeted by the Council, particularly those that concern the apostolate of lay people.

“On the other hand it could be an opportunity to provoke a truly salutary shock to world opinion if these problems were mentioned. A call for an effective solution, launched by the most representative assembly of the Universal Church, would trigger an awakening of influence with incalculable repercussions.

“Today, young people in general – and young workers in particular as well the vast throng of workers; the under-developed continents as well as the most sprawling cities; the most advanced peoples as well as the most dynamic groups representing science and ideologies, are on alert for and looking out for a sincere and profound solution.

“May the Ecumenical Council bring its Light and Hope to those who have such a great need for it!

Jos. CARDIJN

16 December 1960.”

SOURCES

Original French

Joseph Cardijn, L’apostolat des laïcs (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, The apostolate of lay people (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Two initial realities: Church and life

Réflexions et suggestions

In his third note (Note 3) dated 15 December 1960, Cardijn offers his “Reflections and Suggestions” in response to the proposed plan of work of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate as outlined by its secretary, Mgr Achille Glorieux, during the first plenary meeting of the commission in November.

A theoretical framework

Framed very abstractly, the program read as follows:

1. Notions and definition of the lay apostolate

2. Forms and methods

3. Formation for the lay apostolate

4. Submission to the hierarchy

5. Priests and laity

6. Catholic Action

7. Relationship between the various forms of the lay apostolate

8. Charitable action

9. Drafting of texts to be presented to the Central Commission.

Many comments could be made about this framework, beginning with the fact that it appears to assume the objectives of the lay apostolate are clear and well understood.

Notable also is the fact that the issue of “submission to the hierarchy” features prior to discussion of the roles of priests and laity, a completely top down conception of the Church to say the least.

Strangely, while “Charitable action” and “Social action” are listed, there no mention of “Evangelisation”, which was the subject to be studied by the first sub-commission to which Cardijn had been appointed.

Two initial realities: Church and life

Despite the politeness of his response, it is evident immediately that Cardijn is not happy with this framework. He therefore suggested:

“In order to clarify the concept and definition of the apostolate of the laity, we can began with two initial realities :

“1. The Church, its mission, its composition: the Hierarchy and its collaborators consecrated by means of a sacrament or a vow (priests and religious), their own mission; all the other faithful, members of the People of God who are the Church and who may be called laity in the ecclesial sense – hence the apostolate of the laity in the Church.

“2. The life, the needs of all people, created by God and who have a mission and a vocation received from God : a mission, vocation and apostolate that they fulfill in their own life, with all other people and in all human institutions, to use the whole of creation for their divine destiny. The apostolate of the laity in the ecclesial sense is necessary with respect to all other people and in all human institutions in order to enable people to discover and realise the mission of humankind and the world.”

As usual, Cardijn thus refuses to focus on the Church on its own or by itself. Instead, he seeks to confront the twin “realities” of

a) the Church and its mission with

b) the life and mission of the people “created by God” and the world they live in.

The contrast with the approach proposed by the PCLA could barely be greater.

Apostolic formation based on the see-judge-act

Cardijn further develops these ideas in his comments on the subsequent paragraphs of the draft plan.

The forms and methods of lay apostolate must be “appropriate to the life, milieux as well as to the problems and institutions of life, they will give birth to the specialised lay apostolate, which by its effectiveness and competence acquires a power of penetration and representation not only within a limited local field but also at national and international levels,” he argues.

Formation “is essentially apostolic,” he continues. “There can be no deep religious formation without formation for the apostolate. Humankind has received a divine mission from God; It is by recognising it and fulfilling it that it truly gives glory to God, collaborating in the establishment of his Kingdom, “on earth as in heaven.” Prayer, sacraments, liturgy, worship and interior life cannot be separated from apostolic life, just as the latter cannot be separated from the sources and expressions of religion.”

The jocist method educates the individual to see, judge and act “as a person, and as a Christian and apostle,” he insists.

“Could the Council insist on the urgency of integrating the apostolic formation of the laity at the heart of all religious formation, especially during the age of vocation (14 to 25 years)?” Cardijn proposes.

Regarding “submission to the hierarchy,” he recognises the primacy of the clergy in doctrinal and sacramental matters but insists on limiting this in other areas.

“Temporal, professional, social and cultural matters, submission to the Hierarchy will be expressed by virtue of and to the extent of the competency of the latter,” he argues.

“This submission must never be or appear to be a form of tutelage, an impediment to the initiative and responsibility of the laity,” Cardijn warns. “On the contrary, it must be and must ppear to be a guarantee of authenticity, an encouragement and support for all initiatives, all efforts and often all the sacrifices that are necessary for the extension of the Reign of God and for the salvation of people.”

Collaboration across the board

Concerning the relations between priests and laity, he emphasises the need to determine “the proper role and the complementary link between the priestly apostolate and the lay apostolate in the mission of the Church, both for the formation of the laity in their apostolate as well as in the permanent collaboration between priests and laity in the exercise of this apostolate.”

He calls for clarification of the notion of Catholic Action and insists on the need to find ways for Catholics to cooperate “with all the various non-Catholic and non-Christian lay organisations and institutions, whether private or public, governmental or non-governmental, local, national and international.”

He insists on the need for collaboration between the various forms of lay apostolate as well as emphasing the importance of both charitable and social action.

A declaration by the Council

Finally, in relation to the drafting of conciliar documents, Cardijn proposes “a kind of solemn declaration by the Council insisting on the current importance of the apostolate of the laity, its growing necessity before the current problems of the world to which the Church must and desires to provide a response.”

“This declaration would also be addressed to non-Catholics and non-Christians, recalling the divine mission of the whole of creation and the whole of humanity, expressing how much the Church desires to collaborate with all people and all human institutions against the terrible scourges that threaten the world and in favour of the complete progress of the human race,” he explains.

“This union of all people in a common effort to overcome obstacles to human freedom and to promote genuine progress responds closely to the desire of the Creator and the Redeemer,” Cardijn explains.

“The Church desires to be the leaven of this union in peace for the respect, raising up and happiness of all,” he concludes, offering his vision of a Church acting from within society rather than from on high.

“The Church’s call to the faithful, members of the Church is also addressed to all people who are all created by the same God and saved by the same Christ in order that together they may be united at this decisive hour for the peace of the world and the salvation of the human race,” he notes in a final appeal for the Council to look beyond the confines of the Church itself.

SOURCES

French Original

Joseph Cardijn, Réflexions et suggestions (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, Reflections and suggestions (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

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)

Note 1 – The lay apostolate

Note 1 - L'apostolat des laïcs

With the first plenary meeting of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate just over two weeks away, Cardijn has finalised an 18-page typed and roneoed note entitled “L’apostolat des laïcs” (The Apostolate of Lay People).

While there is no indication of the number of copies printed, no doubt he prepared enough for distribution to the members and consultants of the PCLA as well as for his other contacts in Rome and elsewhere.

Cardijn opens by summarising the document, which is organised into five chapters that follow the form of his see-judge-act method.

See: Chapter I (naturally!) thus opens with an overview of “the essential problems of lay life,” ranging from personal, physical, family, community and social level to cultural, professional, civic and political at national and international levels.

As illustrations of the issues, Cardijn highlights population growth, rapid technological change, the break down of traditional lifestyles as well as the growing power of government, non-government and international institutions.

Judge: He divides Chapter II into three parts, setting out his own vision of the required response by the Church:

a) The apostolic and missionary dimensions of these problems and their solution;

b) the indispensable formation required to solve them;

c) the role of the Church in providing that formation and working towards solutions.

Act: Cardijn final three chapters set out Cardijn’s conception of the action required by the Church:

a) Catholic Action (Chapter III), which Cardijn characterises as both a “participation” in the formational aspect of the Hierarchy’s role “forming the faithful to share the apostolic mission of the Church in their own life and in the lay world” but also involving “the responsibility of lay people both in the direction and in the action and organisation of the apostolic movements that have received a mandate” from the Church.

b) Pious, charitable and social organisations in the Church (Chapter IV), which Cardijn views as working alongside and complementing the work of the Catholic Action movements with their focus on formation.

c) Formation of priests and religious men and women (Chapter V) to take on the task of “the formation of lay people for the apostolate.”

Finally, Cardijn adds two annexes that call for

a) the creation of a sub-commission and working groups comprising lay people and

b) proposing a post-conciliar “Roman Congregation or Dicastery for the Apostolate of Lay People,” which would continue and develop the work begun by the conciliar commission.

It was a masterful document that synthesised the essence of the Jocist-inspired “Specialised Catholic Action” model that Cardijn had developed over the previous forty years. Without a single mention of the “Italian” model of clerically-controlled, politically-oriented and Church-defending Catholic Action, Cardijn offered a completely different vision of Catholic Action led by lay people, focused on formation and reaching out to the world.

Such was the vision that would guide and inform all his work – and that of his jocist colleagues – over the course of work of the Preparatory Commission.

SOURCE

Joseph Cardijn, Note 1, L’apostolat des laïcs (Archives Cardijn 1576) (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, Note 1, The apostolate of lay people (Archives Cardijn 1576) (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

A first draft of a note for the Prep Com

Now that he has been appointed to the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate, as usual, Cardijn prepares meticulously, drafting an extraordinarily wide-ranging and detailed note of the way in which he would like the commission to work.

In his note, he begins by outlining the issue:

“The problem of the apostolate of lay people and of the formation of lay people for their apostolate can be exposed and solved starting from different points of departure, but which all lead to the same conclusions:

1. The Church, its mission, lay people in the Church.

2. God, the plan of God, in the Incarnation and the Redemption, participation of lay people in this plan of God.

3. The Christian’s mission in the world.

4. Man, his life, his problems, his worth and the mission of each person.”

He then drafts an extensive enquiry questionnaire for himself, which he also divides into several sections

First, he tackles “Secular and human problems” which he subdivides further into several categories:

  1. Ontological and personal, beginning with “Who am I? Why do I exist? How do I relate to others?”
  2. Family and emotional issues, beginning with “Who are my family? Who are my siblings? What about marriage?” etc.
  3. Free time: “How do I spend it? With whom? etc.
  4. Teaching and education: “How many years at school? What have I learned? Why did I leave school?
  5. Work: “What is my profession? Who do I work with? How long? Am I in a union?”
  6. Society, organisations and social institutions: “Do I exist alone? With whom? Should I be interested in various organisations?” etc.
  7. Human differences: “What are the differences between peoples?”

Cardijn then moves on to “Religious issues” beginning with the question of a person’s relationship with God, the meaning of the Incarnation of God, the existence of other religions, relationships with other Christians and non-believers, whether priests and pastors receive the kind of doctrinal and pastoral formation they need, etc.

Clearly conscious of the fact that his questions are likely to be fairly distant from the concerns of the PCLA, he explains their significance:

“In themselves for the understanding of their personal life in all its aspects: personal, family, professional, social, cultural, political, national and international;

for the understanding and realisation of their own mission in their own life in its aspects;

for the mutual promotion of this life in their immediate environment and in the world and for the union, understanding, progress, peace of all humanity;

for the eternal destiny of each and everyone;

for the glory of God and the realisation of his plan in the work of Creation and Redemption;

for collaboration in the work of the Church, in the ecumenical mission of the Church in the world of today and tomorrow.”

In a short Part II entitled “The apostolic formation of lay people” he explains that:

“1. The faithful in the Church must be formed

a) to discover these problems of their own life and that of all men

b) to discover the apostolic value of these problems

c) to learning and exercising their apostolic mission in their life, i.e. of the apostolic transformation of their own life in view of their apostolic mission immediate.

2. This apostolic formation begins at birth in the family, intensifies in school, becomes more precise and adapts to the moment of choosing and learning about their state of life.

3. This apostolic formation, doctrinal and practical, is not individualistic, but takes place in an adapted apostolic movement, where young lay people unite on the spot and on the scale of the current world, to collaborate in the action and representation of the apostolic conception of life and of the world at all stages and in all aspects of their life.

–    lives, living environment, daily, concrete and practical problems;

– private and public authorities at all levels
– national and international private and public organisations and institutions, confessional and interfaith, interracial.”

Finally, in a short Part C dealing with the work of the PCLA, he again makes an important list of points to be dealt with:

Its composition

Its purpose

Its method of work:

1) definition of the lay apostolate

2) organisation of the lay apostolate

3) formation of lay people in the apostolate

4) training of priests, men and women religious for their mission in the formation of the laity for the apostolate

5) extension and deepening of the lay apostolate

in the world of work

in intellectual circles and leaders

in education

in the different continents, races,

in national and international institutions, governmental and non-governmental

with non-Catholics and non-Christians

with organisations, movements, institutions,

achievements of non-Catholics and non-Christians.

6) Should there be sub-committees or working groups with lay people for resolutions, and fruitful practical conclusions?”

It is an extraordinary document with obvious roots in the Cardijn method of beginning from the everyday life of the people rather than from the Church’s doctrine.

SOURCE

Original French:

Joseph Cardijn, Note 1: Première ébauche d’un avant projet (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation:

Joseph Cardijn, Outline for Note 1 on the Lay Apostolate (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Pope John launches the preparatory commissions

On 5 June 1960, Pope John published a Motu Proprio entitled Superno Dei creating ten specialised commissions to work on preparing for the holding of Vatican II under the supervision of a Central Commission.

The proposed commissions were:

a) Theological Commission: To deal with issues relating to the Scriptures, sacred tradition, and the faith;

b) Commission for the Bishops and diocesan Governance

c) Commission on formation of the clergy and the Christian people;

d) Commission on religious principles;

e) Commission on the Sacraments;

f)  Commission on the Liturgy;

g) Commission on studies and seminaries;

h) Commission on the Eastern Churches;

i) Commission on mission;

i) Commission on the Apostolate of the Laity.

This tenth commission on lay apostolate was to deal with all issues relating to “Catholic Action as well as religious and social action.”

The Antepreparatory Commission under Archbishop Tardini had actually proposed six preparatory commissions. Now, however, Pope John had finally fixed the number at ten, including a commission on lay apostolate that the pope had decided upon himself, describing it as a “real innovation.”

Indeed, it was the first time that an Ecumenical Council had specifically addressed the issue of the apostolate of the laity.

According to Commission secretary, Mgr Achille Glorieux, a former JOC chaplain from Lille, France, this decision exercised “a great influence on the whole Council, contributing to highlight the place of lay people in the Church and the importance of their role in the apostolic mission of the Church.”

Did Cardijn himself have any particular influence on the pope in coming to this decision?

Although we have no documentation to clarify this point, it is significant that Cardijn had raised the issue of “the confusion” over lay apostolate issues in his audience with the pope less than three months earlier.

In any event, it is clear that the issue of lay apostolate was also a personal preoccupation of John himself.

SOURCES

Pope John XXIII, Superno Dei (Vatican website)

Preparing a visit to Rome

As usual, Cardijn’s preparation for his planned trip to Rome in late February 1960 was minutious.

Even the list of people he planned to visit is impressive.

Archbishop Angelo Dell’Acqua, the Substitute at the Vatican, with whom Cardijn has been in regular contact since his appointment in 1954 to replace Mgr Montini, who had been promoted to archbishop of Milan.

Cardinal Fernando Cento had previously been nuncio to Belgium from 1946 to 1953.

A tough-minded conservative who had been Substitute for Pope Pius XI from 1929-35, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani had only recently been appointed as Secretary to the Vatican Holy Office. The son of a working-class baker, Ottaviani, was sympathetic to Cardijn and the JOC.

Now the Secretary of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Archbishop Pietro Sigismondi was previously the nuncio to Rwanda the Belgian colony that hosted one of the strongest JOC movements in Africa.

Lebanese-born Cardinal François Agagianian was the Pro-Prefect of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.

Soon to be appointed as a cardinal, Archbishop Pietro Marella became nuncio to France succeeding the then-Archbishop Roncalli in 1953 and would serve in that role until the end of 1959.

Archbishop Antonio Samorè was the secretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, the foreign affairs branch of the Vatican Secretariat of State.

Cardijn knew and had working relationships if not friendships with them all.

In addition to these Vatican personalities, Cardijn planned to see Fr Jean-Baptiste Janssens, the Belgian-born superior general of the Jesuits, along with the heads of other missionary orders whose priests worked closely with the JOC, including the Oblates, White Fathers and Holy Cross Fathers.

He planned to visit Archbishop Maximilien de Fürstenberg, the rector of the Belgian College in Rome. Interestingly, he also planned to visit the Opus Dei priest, Fr (now Blessed) Alvaro del Portillo, who was on the “Commission laïcs pour le Concile” (Laity Commission for the Council).

In addition, he also foreshadowed a visit to Mgr Achille Glorieux, the French-born former JOC chaplain from Lille, who was secretary to the Permanent Committee for the Apostolate of the Laity.

Most of the topics Cardijn listed for his discussions revolved around the work of the YCW on the various continents and regions.

Particularly interesting and significant, however, is Cardijn’s note of issues to raise with Archbishop Dell’Acqua:

“Peut-on suggérer une Encycllque ?

a/ à l’occasion du 70ème anniversaire de Rerum Novarum, sur ‘L’Eglise face au monde du travail’

b/ pour dissiper le désarroi et la confusion sur « L’ Apostolat des laïcs ».”

“Could we suggest an Encyclical,” Cardijn asks,

“a/ on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Rerum Novarum on “The Church and the world of work”

“b/ to dissipate the disarray and confusion over ‘The Lay Apostolate’.”

“The Church and the World of Work” and “The Lay Apostolate”: two themes at the heart of Cardijn’s mission.

Clearly, he was also highly concerned about the “disarray” and “confusion” over the latter.

Although he makes no specific mention of the Council, surely it was not absent from Cardijn’s thoughts.

SOURCE

Voyage à Rome de Mgr Cardijn et Romeo Maione (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Trip to Rome of Mgr Cardijn and Romeo Maione (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)