Proposed new Vatican lay apostolate body

On 27 February 1963, Jean Rodhain, wrote to Mgr Jean Streiff, secretary general of French Catholic Action and now also a member of the Lay Apostolate Commission, informing him of a proposal discussed in the commission for a new Vatican body dealing with the lay apostolate.


Archives Streiff 605

Lack of balance among Lay Apostolate Commission periti

On 26 December 1962, French priest, Jean Rodhain, wrote to Cardinal Liénart seeking intervention by the French bishops over what he regarded as a lack of balance among the periti.

“I consider it as the most elementary loyalty to share my concern and to admit how much the designation as an expert in the Commission of a French priest resident in France and specialising in Catholic Action appears desirable to me,” he wrote.

Although, according to Rodhain, the experts only had a “very accessory role,” the lay leaders of Catholic Action might also “like me, end up astonished and worried,” he warned.

In striking contrast with Suenens failure to react to Cardijn’s non-appointment, Liénart responded swiftly, immediately intervening to obtain the appointment in January 1963 of Msgr Jean Streiff, secretary of the French bishops’ commission on lay apostolate.


Stefan Gigacz, The Leaven in the Council, Chapter 7, The Council opens without Cardijn (Australian Cardijn Institute)

Archives Jean Streiff St 11, 465 (Institut catholique de Paris)

Linking the life of the world with the Council program

Writing in the magazine, Informations Catholiques Internationales, French priest and Secours catholique founder, Mgr Jean Rodhain, wrote:

Sans être prophète,, on peut parier qu’un jour ou l’autre, ce pionnier qui, du Pérou aux Indes, a visité les masses misérables du monde entier, interviendra de toute sa flamme pour relier la vie du monde avec le programme du Concile?


Without being a prophet, one can bet that one day or another, this pioneer, who from Peru to the Indies, has visited the miserable masses of the whole world, will intervene with all his fire to link the life of the world to the program of the Council?


Henri de Riedmatten, Histoire de la Constitution pastorale in Gauudium et Spes, L’Eglise dans le monde de ce temps, Mamé, Paris, 1967.


Fondation Jean Rodhain

Hunger and the Council

In an article entitled “La faim et le Concile,” French former JOC chaplain and founder of the French relief agency, Secours catholique, Mgr Jean Rodhain, reflects on the problem of hunger in light of the Council.

“What linkage between hunger and the Council?” he asks.

He responds:

The historian would reply that all the Councils (2) of the Middle Ages by condemning usury took the defense of the poor and the hungry. Above all, he would explain to him how the definitions and legislation resulting from the Councils built this Christian civilization which, after all, is the most revolutionary of all.

And, citing Cardijn, he shares his experience of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate:

As for the social and economic consequences of the future Council, only a prophet could speak about it…

Being neither a prophet nor a historian, of this next Council I know only one thing: I am returning from Rome where, as a member appointed by the Supreme Pontiff to a Preparatory Commission, I participated in the initial stages of this Vatican Council II.

This is merely preparatory work, since only the assembled bishops will decide.

It is just one Commission and there are nine others as well.

Moreover, we have taken an oath to keep the work secret.

All the same several things have already been published on the subject by Rome itself:

First the Commission in which I am working is entitled: “Apostolate of the laity”. The list of its members is printed in broad daylight and we see that there several experts in social or charitable issue who were not chosen by accident. My work neighbor is Mgr Cardijn, the founder of the YCW. Without being a prophet we can be sure that one day or another this pioneer who, visited the miserable masses of the whole world from Peru to India, will intervene with all his passion to link the problem of hunger in the world with the program of the Council.

Without being a prophet or indiscreet, how can we imagine that the bishops from regions of extreme poverty, that all the bishops of the world haunted by the misery of their sheep, gathered around the common Father, will not be obsessed with the same spectacle and the same concern as the Apostles and their Lord before the multitude gathered around the single basket with the five barley buns? “I have pity on these people, because they have no food”.

And he concludes, offering his own vision for the Council:

L’Osservatore Romano revealed that, in order to work, the members of the Commissions were given the enormous volumes hastily printed and containing the inquiries made in all the dioceses of the whole world in view of the Council.

I have to admit that, gripped by the varied documents, I read them all in two days and two night. Although I cannot say anything about the content of these volumes, I must admit that I remain dazzled in the face of this “slice of life of this Church always rejuvenated by the Charity of Christ”.

If some do not yet see the connection between a Council and Hunger in the World, let us dare to look attentively at the time which is coming: I seem to see the primitive Church reviving the first Council in Jerusalem (Act. Apost. XV 4-35) ) but working at the same time to collect and deliver relief for the hunger of this same Jerusalem (Act. Apost. XI 28-30). The history of the Councils in fact already began with hunger and a sharing by Christians.

The bread we share in this time of the Council is Charity.


Jean Rodhain, La faim et le Concile, Messages du Secours Catholique, décembre 1960 (Archives Cardijn 1529/Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Jean Rodhain (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Members and consultors of the PCLA

L’Osservatore Romano published the full list of members and consultors for the new Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate in its editions of 1 and 16 September 1960.

In this initial round of appointments, Pope John named twenty-nine members and nineteen consultors to the PCLA, including many who had previous involvement in the 1951 and 1957 World Congresses on Lay Apostolate and/or one or other of the Specialised Catholic Action movements.

This is the list:

Archbishop Evasio Colli of Parma;

Archbishop Ismael-Marie Castellano, titular archbishop of Colossae;

Archbishop Gabriel Garrone of Toulouse;

Bishop Allen-Jacques Babcock of Grand Rapids;

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, auxiliary of New York;

Bishop Gabriel Bukatko, eparch of Krizevci;

Bishop Primo Gasbarri of Velletri;

Bishop Franz Hengsbach of Essen;

Bishop Ferdinand Baldelli, titular bishop of Aperle;

Mgr Aurèle Sabbatini;

Mgr (Bishop) Luigi Civardi;

Mgr (Bishop) Emile Guano;

Mgr Pietro Pavan;

Mgr Augustin Ferrari Toniolo;

Mgr Joseph Cardijn;

Joseph Géraud;

Mgr Santo Quadri;

Mgr Ferdinand Klostermann;

Mgr Jean Rodhain;

Mgr Antoine Ramselaar;

Fr Albert Bonet Marrugat;

Fr Antoine Cortbawi;

Fr Henri Donze;

Fr Cyrille-Bernard Papali, O.C.D.;

Fr Jena Hirschmann, S.J.;

Fr Paul Lopez de Lara, S. J.;

Fr Robert Tucci, S. J.;

Fr Georges Jarlot, S. J.;

Fr Jean Ponsioen, S.C.J.


Archbishop Emmanuel Trindade Salgueiro of Evora;

Archbishop Owen McCann of Cape Town;

Archbishop Ambroise Rayappan of Pondicherry and Cuddalore;

Archbishop Bernardin Gantin of Cotonou;

Bishop Emmanuel Larrain Errâzuriz of Talca;

Bishop Joseph Blomjous of Mwanza;

Bishop Boleslas Kominek, titular bishop of Vaga;

Bishop Bryan Gallagher of Port Pirie;

Bishop Benedict Tomizawa of Sapporo and Apostolic Administrator of the Prefecture of Karafuto;

Bishop Joseph Armand Gutierrez Granier, auxiliary of La Paz;

Bishop Reginald-John Delargey, auxiliary of Auckland;

Mgr Ferdinand Lambruschini ;

Fr Henri Caffarel;

Fr Victor Portier;

Fr Raymond Spiazzi, O.P.;

Fr Salvatore Lener, S.J.;

Fr Peter Pillai, O.M.I.;

Fr Wiliam Ferrée, C.M. ;

Fr Vincent de Vogelaere, O.P.

Among the members of the Commission with jocist links – apart from Cardijn himself – we can identify Gabriel Garrone, Jean Rodhain, Henri Donze, chaplain to the French Action Catholique Indépendent, Henri Caffarel, a former JOC national-secretariat chaplain who founded the Teams of Our Lady from France, Franz Hengsbach from Germany, Albert Bonet, founder of the JOC affiliate in Catalonia, and Antoine Cortbawi from Lebanon.

The consultors also included several with close ties to Cardijn, the JOC and the Specialised Catholic Action movements, notably Larrain but also McCann, Gantin, Blomjous, Gallagher, Gutierrez Granier, Delargey and Pillai.


J. Bouvy, “Composition des Commissions préparatoires du II Concile oecuménique du Vatican,” in Nouvelle Revue Théologique 82 N° 8 (1960): 861-869.

Stefan Gigacz, Vatican II bishops with links to Cardijn, the JOC and other SCA mvts