Detailed remarks

Along with his Note 15 on the Materially and Formally Lay Apostolate of Lay People, Cardijn prepared two additional notes (13 and 14) offering his particular and general remarks on the three draft documents prepared by the PCLA on lay apostolate, social action and charitable action.

Lay apostolate

With respect to the draft document on lay apostolate, as always he insisted on the need to emphasise the specifically lay vocation of lay people.

“Isn’t there a way to begin with what is proper to lay people: ‘negotia mundi christiane gerendo, ordinem temporalem Christo lucrifacere et in Deum ordinare…’,” he asked.

He lamented that “the lack of an apostolic sense and apostolic spirit” among lay people was “certainly the consequence of lack in religious formation.”

But he added that this was because “priests and religious responsible for this religious formation do not believe in the apostolic mission of lay people in the Church.”

” Isn’t it necessary to make an appeal” to these priests and religious, he asked. “Isn’t it necessary to insist on the unity of life under every aspect? It is the separation between temporal life and religious life that is the greatest evil of our time.”

He called for “parents to involve their sons and daughters in joining apostolic movements appropriate to their age and situation, most of on leaving school and starting work?”

Cardijn also insisted on the importance of ecumenical collaboration in this context.

“Should nothing be said about collaboration and coordination with non-Catholics and non-Christians, for certain moral, social, cultural, economic, etc.,” he asked.

Social action

Here Cardijn’s concern was on prevention rather than palliating social problems.

“In a true economic and social order should we not prevent evils, rather than organising insurance that covers certain consequences of these evils? For example, regarding unemployment, shouldn’t everything be done to prevent or eliminate it, rather than guaranteeing a subsidy, even if it is adequate, for the unemployed?

“It is the same thing for all these evils, including accidents, illnesses, robots, etc.”

As always, he insisted on the need for a focus on young people, particularly young working people.

“Above all, there is the problem of young people, including their preparation for working life, their recruitment for businesses, apprenticeship, security, etc.,” he wrote. “Lack of jobs, lack of interest and stability are among the greatest scourges affecting young people in certain countries and continents.”

He was particularly critical of the draft chapter on global issues.

“This chapter seems too weak to me,” Cardijn wrote:

“I would prefer a solemn and pressing appeal to all Christians and to people – and above all to the ruling authorities – for a deep search based on loyal understanding and effective collaboration, with a view to ending

– underdevelopment in all its forms;

– the increasingly disastrous arms race, which increases mistrust between peoples;

– public immorality, bargaining and espionage between nations and inhuman situations within nations.

AN IMPRESSIVE DECLARATION affirming that the Church is ready for unanimous participation in the efforts necessary to bring about justice, charity and peace among all people, of all races and every opinion, would provide a witness for the whole world.”

Charitable action

Here Cardijn was concerned with what he felt was a limited understanding of charitable action.

“I note that the definition includes all acts and all works inspired by charity, whether they are individual or collective acts or works, of national or international scope, relating to the social or cultural order, assistance or exchange, public or private initiative.

“It seems to me that this document confuses acts of charity performed by Christians (acts performed by virtue of the love of God and neighbour) and the action of assistance which needs to respond, at the individual and collective level, to the needs of our most disadvantaged brothers and sisters, in the temporal, social, moral, etc. fields. The purpose of this document is to deal with this assistance action in its various forms and in the various fields,” he warned.

Instead, he proposed the following emphases:

1. Acts and works of assistance, mutual aid, etc. should be animated by supernatural charity. We create them or we suggest them, we make them act or we participate in them, through supernatural charity; and it is this supernatural charity that the lay apostle diffuses there, even when the people or authorities who create or manage these institutions are animated by a spirit of philanthropy or merely human social assistance.

2. There are acts and works of a charitable nature which respond to personal, particular or hidden needs, and Christians need to be educated to seek them out and devote themselves to them. But in the modern world, it is necessary that all Christians understand the collective needs that affect large sectors of humanity and endanger its future: material, physical, social and cultural needs economic, technical and scientific needs… It is also necessary for Christians be the first to seek an answer to these problems through effective and unanimous mutual aid. Thus hunger, disease, the inadequacy of technical and scientific equipment are not scourges which relate uniquely to charitable activity, but rather activities of human solidarity and collaboration. For Christians, these activities will be prompted and animated by supernatural charity.

Nevertheless, Cardijn equally emphasised the importance of the Christian obligation to charitable action, which he said “should be genuinely proposed as the fundamental sign of a Christian: the love of God, which manifests itself in and through love and assistance given to the other.”

But while insisting on respect and protection of the freedom to take social and charitable action, he also emphasised “the need for a loyal and objective collaboration of Christians in the socialisation of this order. “

“We should recommend to Christians not to distance themselves from institutions, works and organisations, whether private and public, national and international, created or directed by unbelievers, on a non-confessional or multi-confessional basis,” he emphasised.

And in this field, it was even more necessary than elsewhere for formation “to become formative action” which also needed to be “apostolic at the same time.”

Catholic Action

Unsurprisingly, Cardijn was particularly preoccupied with the draft chapter on Catholic Action. Here he called for a total revision, particularly in relation to:

The apostolate of organised lay people.

The apostolate proper to organised lay people..

The responsibility of lay leaders of Catholic Action with respect to method, action and organisation.

The links and relationship with the hierarchy.

Specialisation and coordination.

Young people and adults.

Young people

Finally, he called for attention to young people from various milieux and for attention to the method of their education.

“This document should address the following issues,” he said:

1. Notion of apostolate by young people.

2. Its necessity and importance.

3. Specialisation and coordination.

4. Young workers.

5. Young rural people.

6. Young students

7. The fundamental method of educating young people.

SOURCE

Original French

Joseph Cardijn, Note 13 – Remarques particulières (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, Note 13 – Detailed remarks (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)