On 3 July 1959, Cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo, the president of the Vatican Congregation for Seminaries and Universities as well as secretary of the Holy Office, which was responsible for doctrinal matters, wrote to French Cardinals Maurice Feltin of Paris and Achille Liénart of Lille, to clamp down even harder on the worker priests.
In 1941, the French Church had launched the “Mission de France” in a bid to reach the working class. Two years later, Cardinal Suhard launched the “Mission de Paris” with a similar objective.
Cardinals Liénart, who was president of the Assembly of (French) Cardinals and Archbishops, and Feltin, both of whom had been early JOC chaplains, were
Many of the priests, including many who had been or were JOC chaplains, also began to work in factories, on wharves and elsewhere as “worker priests.” Indeed, Bishop Alfred Ancel, a Prado father, auxiliary bishop of Lyon and keynote speaker at the JOC Internationale Congress in Brussels in 1950, had also taken up part-time work.
However, as an increasing number of priests became involved in trade union struggles and strikes, often alongside communists and communist trade unions, fears began to rise.
As a result, in 1953, the Holy See requested the French bishops responsible for the worker priests to prohibit them from engaging in fulltime paid employed.
Now, Cardinal Pizzardo had again written to his French colleagues asking for the prohibition of even part-time work outside the Church.
To the extent that this decision was a portent, the early signs for the Council were not promising.
Giuseppe Pizzardo (Press Photo)