Among the first to realise the Council’s potential was the theologian, Yves Congar, who had begun to work with Cardijn and the JOC during the early 1930s, giving retreats to JOC leaders at the Saulchoir, the Dominican convent then located at Kain, near Tournai in Belgium.
Subsequently, Congar continued to work closely with the JOC and other Specialised Catholic Action movements, culminating in his publication in 1953 of “Jalons pour une théologie du laïcat.” This was later translated into English as “Lay People in the Church.”
Nevertheless, his work had also attracted the attention of the Holy Office, the Vatican body responsible for doctrine. Along with several colleagues, he had been banned from teaching. As a result, he was transferred to Jerusalem at his own request and later sent to England and was eventually assigned to Strasbourg, where Archbishop Weber was more open to him.
Congar therefore took a keen interest in Pope John’s announcement of a Council. Within three weeks of its announcement, in mid-February 1959, he wrote suggesting five areas of work that thought the Council would do well to focus on (Giuseppe Alberigo, “The Announcement of the Council: From the Security of the Fortress to the Lure of the Quest,” in Alberigo-Komonchak, I, 35).
- Confirming the unity of the Church
- Promoting pastoral activity,
- Reasserting the spiritual vocation of the human person
- Combating doctrinal error and
- Completing the work of Vatican I a century before.