On 15 March 1962, Mgr Glorieux wrote to Cardijn acknowledging receipt of Cardijn’s notes containing his reflections on the latest draft documents from the Prep Com.
Although Glorieux thanks Cardijn, his answer cannot have given much encouragement to the founder of the JOC.
HE Cardinal Cento immediately passed me your latest letter, requesting me to thank you for it. I myself received the same documents in the following mail delivery, and I want to express our gratitude to you without delay.
We are in the process of revising the texts, first each SC separately, with two Members from each SC working together next week. Your suggestions were already mentioned while we were gathering comments; they take on even more force in your recent Note. As there will be very few of us to carry out the work, it is not necessary to send us other documents (which would moreover risk arriving too late). – Thank you also for the detailed remarks on the various documents
On behalf of His Eminence and the small Secretariat group, I also take this opportunity to send you our fervent and cordial good wishes for the feast of Saint Joseph. We will pray for you.
Be assured, dear Monseigneur, of my respectful attachment in Xo.
On 15 January 1962, Cardijn again wrote to Archbishop Garrone of Toulouse thanking him for his letter of 10 January and following up with further proposals.
“In an earlier note to His Eminence Cardinal Cento, I expressed the wish that the importance of the apostolate specific to the laity should be highlighted in the documents of the Commission with a special chapter, either before or after the chapter on the family apostolate,” Cardijn noted.
“I took the liberty of sending you a copy of that previous note.
Less than two weeks after his previous letter, Cardijn wrote again on 10 January 1962 to PCLA president, Cardinal Cento, to insist on the importance of the lay apostolate and enclosing his proposed chapter on the issue (Note 12).
“Please excuse me, Your Eminence, for bothering you again,” Cardijn began:
“In my previous letter of 28 December and the note that accompanied it, I expressed my fear that the proper and irreplaceable apostolate of the laity in the Church would be drowned in all the apostolate common to all the faithful and that not enough attention would be given to this aspect and its importance in the documents under preparation. I believe, moreover, that this fear is shared by a certain number of members of the Commission.
“Since then, I have tried to condense all the notions relating to this apostolate specific to the laity in a special chapter. Perhaps this short statement will not fit into the plan and the texts adopted by the Commission. Your Eminence will be the judge. Would you have any problem with the Secretariat of the Commission sending or providing this note to the other members?”
On 28 December 1961, Cardijn wrote to PCLA president, Cardinal Fernando Cento, enclosing his reflections and his concerns regarding the three draft documents prepared by the Commission.
And he does not hold back in expressing his fears.
“On returning from Latin America, I found among other items on my desk the three texts: TC3, De Apostolatu Laicorum – TC1, de Actione Sociali – TC2, De Actione Caritative.
“I have reread them successively and I am taking the opportunity to now send your Eminence a brief note commenting on all of them since I do not have time to annotate each paragraph.
“May I be permitted to express my concern to your Eminence? I fear that the decisive importance of the proper and irreplaceable apostolate of the laity, their apostolate in temporal life, does not emerge sufficiently from these documents.
“The long journey that I have just made has confirmed my observation over fifty years of priesthood devoted to this apostolate, namely that the clergy in general do not see the urgency of combating materialism, secularism and social disorder that threaten the world and the Church. It seems to me that a solemn appeal – a true SOS – by the Ecumenical Council, addressed to both laity and priests is essential.
“Your Eminence will forgive me for insisting so simply. It is my conscience that prompts me to make this appeal.
I am pleased to send your Eminence my most fervent wishes for a holy and happy Year 1962!” Cardijn concluded.
On 13 October 1961, L’Osservatore Romano published an article entitled “Le sacerdoce et la place des laïcs dans l’Eglise,” being the text of a speech delivered by Cardinal Fernando Cento to the Second Theology Congress organised by the Dominican Study Centre in Bologna.
In his article, Cardinal Cento borrows heavily from Bishop De Smedt’s pastoral letter on the priesthood of the faithful.
Bishop De Smedt Archives, Bruges Diocesan Archives
On 8 August 1961, Cardijn wrote to Preparatory Commission president, Cardinal Fernando Cento, enclosing a copy of the letter he had sent a day earlier to Mgr Glorieux in relation to young domestic workers.
“I am taking the liberty of communicating to your Eminence the letter that I have just sent to Monsignor Glorieux concerning my intervention at the last session of our Conciliar Commission, as well as with respect to several other points that concern me,” Cardijn wrote.
Evidently, he was not satisfied with what was being done in response to his concerns and wanted to make this clear to Cento in his usual polite way.
“I apologise for disturbing Your Eminence in this way, bringing to your attention concerns of which You are very well aware, but which I again humbly submit to your authorised judgment,” Cardijn emphasises.
And he concludes with reference to the death the day before of Cardinal Van Roey, who was well known to Cardinal Cento who had been nuncio to Belgium from 1946 to 1953.
“Your Eminence certainly shares the mourning which has struck the Church of Belgium with the death of His Eminence Cardinal van Roey. I am struck by the unanimity expressed in this mourning, not only among Catholics, but also among the whole population and the whole of the press. Everyone recognises the righteousness and greatness of the Eminent Primate,” Cardijn concluded.
On 28 July 1961, Mgr Glorieux sent a card to Cardijn enclosing documents from the recent Prep Commission meeting where Cardijn had raised the issue of young domestic workers.
“In the last line,” Glorieux informs Cardijn, “mention is made of your important intervention on domestic workers and the suggestion by Cdl Cento: not to decide anything at the moment regarding the most suitable place to discuss this; however, it will be done.”
On 11 July 1961, Prep Com secretary, Mgr Achille Glorieux, wrote to Cardijn acknowledging receipt by Commission president, Cardinal Cento, of a letter “forwarding him the Declaration of the Executive Committee of the International YCW on Ecumenism on the day before the General Session of our Commission.”
“He already thanked you in person during your stay with us; but he would like me to emphasise again the significance he attaches to this document and that you, Mr Maione, and Miss Meersman, receive an expression of his gratitude,” Mgr Glorieux wrote.
“This question of ecumenism undoubtedly also concerns the apostolate of the laity; various projects are under way regarding this issue. It was also good that we also had the point of view of the JOC on this: by inviting all local, federal and national YCWs to make an effort in this area, you are greatly contributing to this mutual understanding without which we cannot hope for rapprochement.
“I am pleased to transmit these thoughts of the Cardinal to you, dear Monsignor. I add my personal gratitude for the document received and, even more, for everything that you contributed to the last General Session, both during the meeting at the Vatican and during the Chancellery meetings.”