Soon after receiving a series of corrections to the book manuscript proposed by Uylenbroeck, Cardijn responded with a note explaining his own position.
REGARDING THE CORRECTIONS PROPOSED BY THE CENSOR AND FR UYLENBROECK
1 On Catholic Action – p. 21 of the proof
I’m afraid that by inserting the proposed note, I’m raising an issue that is completely foreign to my book and my intentions.
2- On the lay apostolate of lay people
I’m afraid that this expression – especially if it’s repeated insistently – might bring to mind changes in structures (social apostolate). It’s more a question of an apostolate of evangelisation, enabling lay people to discover and realise their divine mission, in their own lives, their own environment, their own problems (see Pius XII’s 1957 address to the YCW). This is the aspect of the proper apostolate of the laity that the book aims to emphasise, and that I have emphasised all my life working with young workers.
I have never thought of this transformation of structures when I spoke of the lay apostolate.
+ + + + +
I propose two footnotes
1 – On the use of the expression “Action Catholique” (p. 21)
2 – On itempiai, the aspect of the lay apostolate I deal with in this book
book (p. 23)
+ + + + +
I quote “The Church on mission” several times.
The entire third part of the book deals with the formation of lay people, in view of their entire apostolate.
Humanize before Christianizing: p. 23 (suggested note)
To me, this is not the problem. It’s not about that, nor is it about changing structures. My book is not written with the intention of discussing these problems. I’d rather not talk about them.
On 15 March 1963 – having received a copy of the manuscript in October 1962 and after the contract for publishing had been signed, Suenens finally transmitted a list of “remarks” concerning his book manuscript.
Instead o f sending them directly, these remarks “made by His Eminence (were) transmitted by the (Diocesan) Censor and Fr Uylenbroeck.”
As always, Suenens opposed Cardijn’s conception of Specialised Catholic Action and lay apostolate, insisting on lay people playing a separate “active role in the work of evangelisation.”
REMARKS BY HIS EMINENCE
TRANSMITTED BY THE CENSOR AND VIA M. UYLENBROECK
(15 March, 1963) (Handwritten note by Marguerite Fiévez)
1- As far as the terminology used is concerned, the Council, the Bishops and the diocesan authorities consider that General Catholic Action is as fully valid as specialised Catholic Action, and do not accept it being said that CA is essentially specialised CA. This in no way prevents each Bishop from judging the application of local priorities.
2- Instead of saying that the layperson’s proper role is formally the Christianisation of the temporal, he affirms (His Eminence) that the layperson’s proper and formal role is twofold: on the one hand, it is his proper role to take an active role in the work of evangelisation, by preparing, supporting and prolonging priestly action; on the other hand, it is his proper role under his exclusive responsibility — to Christianise the temporal.
3- Instead of saying that evangelising action must first pass through temporal action, he affirms a connection and an independent relationship between the two actions. Cfr. Humaniser pour évangéliser, in L’Eglise en Etat de mission.
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.
In addition to the 160 elected bishops, John XXIII added nine appointed members bringing the total number in each commission to twenty-five.
Although there was no Jocist ‘ticket,’ the results revealed a significant representation of movement-linked bishops in nearly every Commission.
This was particularly so in the all-important Doctrinal Commission on Faith and Morals (Doctrinal Commission) and in the Lay Apostolate Commission (LAC), which now had the clumsy, formal title of Commission on the Apostolate of the Faithful, Press and Public Spectacles [sic], each of which each included at least eight such bishops.
Gabriel-Marie Garrone, longstanding proponent of the JOC Joseph Schröffer, who participated in the IYCW Rome pilgrimage in 1957 Alfredo Scherer, a JOC supporter from Brazil Paul Emile Léger, a Canadian proponent of the SCA movements André-Marie Charue, who had links with the Belgian JOC back to 1924 Marcos McGrath CSC, Holy Cross father and JOC patron in Panama Maurice Roy, pioneer JOC chaplain, cousin of Quebec JOC founder, Henri Roy
Bishop Georges Pelletier, Canadian bishop closely linked to the SCA movements
Lay Apostolate Commission
Manuel Larrain, pioneer of Specialised Catholic Action in Chile Franz Hengsbach, bishop of Essen, seat of the German JOC/CAJ Jacques Ménager, bishop responsible for Catholic Action movements in France John E. Petit, an English bishop close to the YCW Joseph Blomjous, of Dutch origin, supporter of the SCA movements in Tanzania Paul Yu Pin, JOC pioneer in China before coming to Formosa (Taiwan) Gerardus De Vet, director of (Specialised) Catholic Action, Breda, Netherlands
René Stourm, an early JOC chaplain in France
This gave the Jocist bishops close to a third of the numbers in each of these commissions, with the former responsible for the future Lumen Gentium, and both responsible for the eventual Gaudium et Spes.
Other members of the LAC also supported the JOC and Specialised Catholic Action to varying extents, including Cardinal Raul Silva Henriquez, the Salesian archbishop of Santiago, who admired Cardijn, Emilio Guano, a former International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS-Pax Romana) chaplain from Italy, as well as Castellano and Luigi Civardi from Italian Catholic Action.
The Doctrinal Commission also included Vienna Cardinal Franz König, who had known Cardijn for decades particularly through the Pax Romana network.
A notable absentee in the LAC, however, was Cardijn’s Belgian ally, Charles-Marie Himmer, whose nomination had been opposed by Suenens, who confirmed this in a 16 October 1962 letter to Veronica O’Brien of the Legion of Mary:In any event, the 65 Belgian missionary bishops are behind me – which is not the case for the seven here (i.e. the seven diocesan bishops)… I felt this in De Smedt’s manoeuvres which aimed to place Himmer on the list of candidates for the Catholic Action Commission (i.e. Lay Apostolate Commission). I told him privately that I did not agree with the idea but he publicly returned to the charge for him to be included on our list.
Indeed, Suenens was ‘very isolated among the Belgian bishops on account of his ideas of the lay apostolate,’ as Congar noted, although he remained undeterred in his campaign against the alleged ‘monopolisation’ of Catholic Action.
Promisingly, every other commission also included a Jocist presence.
Bishops and Government of Dioceses
Emile Guerry, another French JOC pioneer Pierre Veuillot, previously in the Holy See, connected to France’s Mission ouvrière
Discipline and Sacraments
Alexandre Renard, Liénart protégé, involved in the Ecole Missionaire du Travail in Lille
Discipline of the Clergy and the Christian People
Guillaume Van Zuylen, bishop of Liège, Belgium Agnelo Rossi, JUC/JIC chaplain from Brazil François Marty, JOC/JAC chaplain in France Thomas Cooray omi, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Gerard Huyghe, bishop of Arras, another Liénart protégé and promoter of SCA Jean Janssens SJ, the Jesuit Superior General and close friend of Cardijn
Guy Riobé, bishop of Orleans, JAC chaplain and promoter of JOC and ACO Jean Zoa, bishop of Yaoundé, Cameroon, former JOC chaplain Cardinal Manuel Gonçalves Cerejeira, a Cardijn disciple since the 1930s
Henri Jenny, Sillon sympathiser from Lille, and auxiliary bishop to Guerry at Cambrai Joseph Malula, JOC chaplain from Congo Kinshasa Enrique Rau, former national chaplain of JOC Argentina Bernardo Fey Schneider, former national chaplain of JOC Bolivia Seminaries, Studies and Catholic Education Ramon Bogarin, JOC founder in Paraguay Denis Hurley omi, Cardijn disciple from South Africa Emile Blanchet, participated in 1950 JOC Internationale congress, Brussels Justin Simonds, Melbourne co-adjutor and long-time JOC supporter
Christian Unity Emile-Joseph De Smedt, former JOCF chaplain and close to Cardijn
In another undated and probably uncirculated document from around the time of the opening of the First Session of Vatican II, Cardijn again summarised his conception of the lay apostolate.
Emitti spiritum tuum
Et renovabis facium terrae.
THE LAY APOSTOLATE.
I believe that it is necessary to give greater emphasis to, to insist more on the absolute necessity of the apostolate of the laity and for a profound and complete conception of the necessary, essential, proper, irreplaceable apostolate of the laity.
Yes, individual, personal apostolate, but leading to an organised apostolate encompassing life, the whole of lay life – personal, proper, autonomous – with each one having a mission, a vocation proper to them that is necessary for the realisation of the plan of love of God in the order of creation and redemption.
But also and necessarily organised on the scale of the modern world, including all aspects of modern life – education, family, work, profession, culture, production – locally, regionally, nationally, internationally.
In movements, organisations, institutions which allow and ensure formation, education, action, responsibility of the interested parties, of the agents who must discover, seek, realise the problems and their solutions.
By collaboration, solidarity, association, both between individuals and between institutions; both between private initiative and with public authorities.
It is the very conception of the Church, of the Mission of the Church, that needs to be renewed, the whole Church, priesthood and laity, hierarchy and mystical body.
The lay apostolate cannot appear as a faculty, a possibility, an accessory, but as indispensable : without the lay apostolate the Church is powerless to fulfill its mission of transforming the world into a Christian world : renovare faciem terrae, omnia instaurare in Christo.
Hence the necessary collaboration of the clergy, their support, their vigilance in the necessary formation, action and apostolic organisation of the laity everywhere and always.
This conviction must shine through in all relations of the clergy with the laity, children, young people, adults, in all aspects of religious education in the family, in the parish and in movements.
Personally, I believe that this conception of the lay apostolate cannot be sufficiently and effectively expressed in general Catholic Action, but that it absolutely requires specialised Catholic Action. Not expressing it clearly enough seems to me not only a setback in pastoral care, but an impossibility of responding to the problem of the present world and in particular of the world of work which will become more and more decisive for the future of the whole world.
With regards to this, could we not employ an even more dynamic, more enthusiastic, more colloquial tone in the schema on the apostolate of the laity, insisting above all on the decisive importance of the vital problems posed by the modern lay world, always more technical, more intrusive, ever more influential in all essential aspects of social life; family, work, leisure, culture in an increasingly united, inseparable and diverse world.
This insistence could perhaps be made via interventions from the authorised spokespersons of the lay apostolate movements in the various continents for the various milieux in the General Assemblies of the Council.
This insistence on the need for the Apostolate of the Laity could also appear in the spirit, the composition, the suggestions, the implementations of the World Secretariat of the Apostolate of the Laity at the Vatican.
Spirit : apostolic and missionary, an irresistible atomic center; open, representative, realistic, not a priori; not theoretical, but speaking loudly as a spokesperson for the world movements; dialoguing with all, seeking with all, listening to all; in which the varioius sections are not ????, but collaborate closely for the goal as a doctrinal section:
theology of the laity
sessions, internships, exchanges
achievements – international, continental,
regional, national, local
WSAL would be both a mirror, an echo, Cenacle, a driving force: through its information, its documentation, its assignments, its calls for collaboration.
The guarantee for such apostolic program would be based on the composition of the permanent team of the secretariat which should include genuine representatives of the various milieux, continents, aspects.
This permanent team would form working teams with the leaders of the various movements and various aspects:
international movements of mediums
“ of doctrine
“ of publicity
“ of art
Suggestions and realisations.
Suggestions and realisations would be valued on their content and would never be imposed by the Hierarchy.
The Preparation Committee for the secretariat would propose to the Holy Father the candidatures presented by the movements. The duration of all the functions as of all the mandates will be temporary.
At its meeting on 18-19 June 1962, the Central Preparatory Commission finalised its review of the Schema on Lay Apostolate.
Criticisms included “unclear” principles, an “overly negative concept of the laity,” “insufficient stress on the dependence of the (lay) apostolate on the hierarchy,” as well as the schema’s “concept of priesthood” and the “unsuitability” of mentioning charisms of the laity.
The most significant proposed change, perhaps in a nod to Suenens’ views, was for the term “the apostolate of the laity” to become the “genus proximum” for all lay apostolic organisations, while Catholic Action, as well as other religious, charitable and social organisations, would be regarded as the various “species of the apostolatus officialis laicorum.”
Naturally, this did not please Cardijn, who continued to fight for recognition of a “specifically lay apostolate for lay people,” writes Stefan Gigacz.
Even so, the most critical comments from within the CPC came, unsurprisingly, from the now-Cardinal Suenens, who expressed “regret that the schema had not adopted a renewed understanding of Catholic Action.”
According to Ferdinand Klostermann, however, Suenens’ suggestions were “unambiguously rejected” by the PCLA, which held firm.
On 24 November 1961, Pope John XXIII appointed Auxiliary Bishop Leo-Jozef Suenens as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels, succeeding Cardinal Jozef-Ernest Van Roey.
Cardijn was still travelling in Latin America at this time and it is not clear when he learned of this appointment.
Unlike Van Roey, who had long supported Cardijn and the JOC, Suenens was not a supporter of the Specialised Catholic Action movements.
Indeed, in 1958, Suenens had published an article “L’unité multiforme de l’Action catholique” in which he criticised what he characterised as the “monopoly of Catholic Action” by “certain particular forms of organised lay apostolate” by which he meant the Specialised Catholic Action movements.
In addition, Cardijn had also experienced his own difficulties with Suenens, who as diocesan censor had sought to make the JOC chaplain change some of his writings.
Although we have no record of Cardijn’s reaction, the appointment must have concerned him.
In his April 1961 Note 9 prosaically entitled “Reflections on documents Pr. 11 – 12 – 13 – 14 (SC II),” Cardijn once again diplomatically calls into question the whole approach of the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate.
“Isn’t it necessary,” he asked, “to try to define more precisely:
“Christian animation of the temporal order?
“Social Action and Catholic Action in the temporal order, life and the environment (milieu)?
“The relationship between this animation with the Hierarchy?
“The supernatural raising up of temporal activities?”
In effect, Cardijn was challenging the assumed spiritual-temporal framework that the Commission appeared to be adopting.
Offering the JOC as an example, he insisted that a more holistic approach was required.
“Since its foundation, the YCW has specialised in the training of young workers with a view to the Christian animation and supernatural raising up of social action,” Cardijn continued, noting that the YCW had “formed social leaders for all the various milieux and all the problems of temporal life.”
It had “always affirmed itself as Catholic Action” and had been “praised and recommended as such by Pius XI, Pius XII and John XXIII.”
Moreover, “the YCW works closely with private and public, national and international, Christian and non-Christian organisations and institutions in all areas of the temporal and social order.”
And he concluded with the pointed question as to whether “the 2nd Sub-Commission, which is devoted to social action” was “taking this activity of the YCW into account.”
In Note 8, also dated April 1961 and entitled simply “Reflections on the Notes of the Commission,” Cardijn emphasises the task of “animation” in developing the apostolate of the laity.
The very fact that he needs to emphasise is a sure indication that many members of the Commission had little or no understanding of this concept, no doubt being more accustomed to the role of the priest as director.
For Cardijn, therefore, “the question of the spiritual animation of the apostolate in the temporal sphere is the essential problem to be solved with respect to this apostolate, whether individual or collective.”
“Without this spiritual animation, temporal action cannot be apostolic,” he insisted.
“That’s why this animation – including prayer through suffering or sacrifice – cannot be alongside or at any distance from apostolic action and life themselves,” he insisted.
“In order to be the soul as well as the engine and lever of the apostolate, prayer, suffering, sacrifice need to be identified with the apostolate itself, which must in turn become prayer and sacrifice. ‘It is not I who live, suffer, work; it is Christ who lives, suffers and works in me.’ Animation transforms our temporal life into spiritual and apostolic life.
Without a doubt, there is the apostolate of prayer and suffering for those who specially devote themselves to it, as well for all Christians; but I think it is better not to call this “animation” of the apostolate. Let us reserve the word “animation” for the spiritual life which wants and must transform the whole temporal action of the laity into an apostolate for, by and with Christ and the Church. Any separation in this area distorts both the life of prayer and the life of action. A soul without a body and a body without a soul are impossibilities in earthly life, whether temporal or spiritual
Regarding the spiritual animation of the lay apostolate in the temporal order, could we not make three suggestions? ?
1 ° That all catechesis and all pastoral care insist on the importance and the necessity for the apostolate of the laity in the Church and in the world; and this apostolate in the whole (secular) life of the laity, in all aspects and all settings of this life. The whole of catechesis and the whole of pastoral work must demonstrate and ensure the spiritual animation necessary for the realisation of the apostolate of the laity in the temporal world;
2 ° That the revalorisation of the sacrament of Confirmation should express and emphasise the importance of the apostolate of the baptised in temporal daily life, and effectively introduce it into his life as an adult Christian, at the age of learning his proper and irreplaceable apostolic mission;
3 ° That the term “apostolate of the laity” and particularly the term “Catholic Action” be reserved for this proper and irreplaceable apostolate, which is the apostolate of the laity in the temporal. “The first and immediate apostles of the laity in lay life and the lay environment (milieu) will be lay people”. Certainly the laity have an apostolate of prayer, suffering, sacrifice and dedication which they share with all Christians, priests, religious and lay people; but they have their own apostolate, which is not that of religious and apostles, even if the latter exercise it in fact in a supplementary manner, either to initiate or make up for deficiencies, but in which they can never replace lay people, for the good and fruitfulness of the Church.
On 25 March 1961, Fr Ernest Michel, national chaplain to the French-speaking (Walloon) Belgian JOC, wrote to Cardijn, who had sought his views on the pastoral letter then being drafted by Bishop Emile-Joseph De Smedt of Bruges.
“Here are the few suggestions that I think you could make to Bishop De Smedt regarding his letter,” Michel wrote.
“In the chapter: Living in union with Christ, Reigning in his people, from page 10.
“Stress the possibility and the need for Christians to collaborate with all people of good will – even those who are non-Christian – in the construction of the world.
“Similarly, underline with a little more force the need for Christians to get involved in organisations to carry out their temporal mission (organisations which, in fact, do not always need to be confessional).
“This is what is now often describes as ‘temporal engagement,’ a term that does not appear as such in the letter.
In relation to Catholic Action, Michel suggested that the letter should indicate “that very often specialised Catholic action, especially when it works in dechristianised environments, is that impactful Catholic action of which he speaks.”
On 5 March 1961, Cardijn composed Note 6, which he entitled “Reflection on the note “DE MISSIONE CANONICA ET MANDATO HIERARCHIAE” of Rev. Fr. Papali O.C.D.”
In this he sought to dispel some of the (many) misconceptions surrounding the meaning of “canonical mission” and “mandate” that were then in circulation and to present his own conception of how these terms applied to the JOC and other Specialised Catholic Action movements.
In relation to “canonical mission,” he asks: “Could the meaning of this term not be extended to a mission which of itself belongs to lay people in the Church, which is proper to them, but the organisation of which is mandated by the Hierarchy?”
In other words, lay people have a mission of their own without the need for any sort of superadded canonical mission. On the other hand, the term was applicable to organisations which had been mandated by the local bishop or bishops.
Secondly, he insisted that any hierarchical mandate granted to a Catholic Action organisation was limited to the “mission confided.”
“It does not give a monopoly, nor does it give an international organisation a power above the power of the local Hierarchy,” he insisted, repudiating the accusation made by then-Bishop Léon-Joseph Suenens of Brussels that the movements were seeking a monopoly.
Rather, ” it is more an order of mission, than an encouragement or an approval, in order to officialise a private mission and to guarantee it to the subordinated hierarchies, who maintain all their power of jurisdiction and to stimulate the members of the organisation,” Cardijn explained.
Nor was this a personal mandate.
“As a general rule, the mandate as the mission is given to the organisation as such; to the leaders named as such, the ordinary leaders, the leaders and members only participate in a relative manner, depending on their authority, their competency and their activity in the movement,” he continued.
“The mission or the mandate increases the responsibility of the leaders and members and is a stimulant to vigilance and the spirit of conquest and sacrifice.
“This mission or mandate officially inserts the apostolate and the organisation within that of the Church and makes it an apostolate of the Church, an apostolic institution of the Church,” he concluded.
As clear as Cardijn’s explanation was, it was not easily accepted by his opponents.
In March 1961, Bishop Emile-Joseph De Smedt of Bruges consulted Cardijn on the drafting of a proposed pastoral letter on “the priesthood of the faithful.”
And he does not fear to correct De Smedt, characterising one phrase as simply “erronée” – erroneous or incorrect.
Whereas De Smedt appears to have mentioned “les fidèles” or “the faithful”, Cardijn insists on speaking of the “lay faithful.”
In typical fashion, he is concerned that ordinary people will be able to understand the document, questioning terms such as “ministerial” as in “ministerial priesthood.”
Nor does he approve of the term “corporation” used by De Smedt to distinguish between the “corporation of priests” in the Church and the “corporation of all the baptised.”
He emphasises the “missionary apostolate.”
And he insists that priests are “animators” and “not just administrators.
Specialised Catholic Action
Also highly significant is Cardijn distinction between Specialised and General Catholic Action
Specialised Catholic Action is concerned with “the whole of life, all the problems of life,” he says.
On the other hand, he views “General Catholic Action” as a “coordination of all Specialised CA organizations.”
Moreover Catholic must be more concerned with having an “impact” than providing “services,” Cardijn argues, adding characteristically that it must be organised “at the parish, diocesan, national and international level.”
“Shouldn’t more importance be given to studying its development” he asks in conclusion.
In his third note (Note 3) dated 15 December 1960, Cardijn offers his “Reflections and Suggestions” in response to the proposed plan of work of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate as outlined by its secretary, Mgr Achille Glorieux, during the first plenary meeting of the commission in November.
A theoretical framework
Framed very abstractly, the program read as follows:
1. Notions and definition of the lay apostolate
2. Forms and methods
3. Formation for the lay apostolate
4. Submission to the hierarchy
5. Priests and laity
6. Catholic Action
7. Relationship between the various forms of the lay apostolate
8. Charitable action
9. Drafting of texts to be presented to the Central Commission.
Many comments could be made about this framework, beginning with the fact that it appears to assume the objectives of the lay apostolate are clear and well understood.
Notable also is the fact that the issue of “submission to the hierarchy” features prior to discussion of the roles of priests and laity, a completely top down conception of the Church to say the least.
Strangely, while “Charitable action” and “Social action” are listed, there no mention of “Evangelisation”, which was the subject to be studied by the first sub-commission to which Cardijn had been appointed.
Two initial realities: Church and life
Despite the politeness of his response, it is evident immediately that Cardijn is not happy with this framework. He therefore suggested:
“In order to clarify the concept and definition of the apostolate of the laity, we can began with two initial realities :
“1. The Church, its mission, its composition: the Hierarchy and its collaborators consecrated by means of a sacrament or a vow (priests and religious), their own mission; all the other faithful, members of the People of God who are the Church and who may be called laity in the ecclesial sense – hence the apostolate of the laity in the Church.
“2. The life, the needs of all people, created by God and who have a mission and a vocation received from God : a mission, vocation and apostolate that they fulfill in their own life, with all other people and in all human institutions, to use the whole of creation for their divine destiny. The apostolate of the laity in the ecclesial sense is necessary with respect to all other people and in all human institutions in order to enable people to discover and realise the mission of humankind and the world.”
As usual, Cardijn thus refuses to focus on the Church on its own or by itself. Instead, he seeks to confront the twin “realities” of
a) the Church and its mission with
b) the life and mission of the people “created by God” and the world they live in.
The contrast with the approach proposed by the PCLA could barely be greater.
Apostolic formation based on the see-judge-act
Cardijn further develops these ideas in his comments on the subsequent paragraphs of the draft plan.
The forms and methods of lay apostolate must be “appropriate to the life, milieux as well as to the problems and institutions of life, they will give birth to the specialised lay apostolate, which by its effectiveness and competence acquires a power of penetration and representation not only within a limited local field but also at national and international levels,” he argues.
Formation “is essentially apostolic,” he continues. “There can be no deep religious formation without formation for the apostolate. Humankind has received a divine mission from God; It is by recognising it and fulfilling it that it truly gives glory to God, collaborating in the establishment of his Kingdom, “on earth as in heaven.” Prayer, sacraments, liturgy, worship and interior life cannot be separated from apostolic life, just as the latter cannot be separated from the sources and expressions of religion.”
The jocist method educates the individual to see, judge and act “as a person, and as a Christian and apostle,” he insists.
“Could the Council insist on the urgency of integrating the apostolic formation of the laity at the heart of all religious formation, especially during the age of vocation (14 to 25 years)?” Cardijn proposes.
Regarding “submission to the hierarchy,” he recognises the primacy of the clergy in doctrinal and sacramental matters but insists on limiting this in other areas.
“Temporal, professional, social and cultural matters, submission to the Hierarchy will be expressed by virtue of and to the extent of the competency of the latter,” he argues.
“This submission must never be or appear to be a form of tutelage, an impediment to the initiative and responsibility of the laity,” Cardijn warns. “On the contrary, it must be and must ppear to be a guarantee of authenticity, an encouragement and support for all initiatives, all efforts and often all the sacrifices that are necessary for the extension of the Reign of God and for the salvation of people.”
Collaboration across the board
Concerning the relations between priests and laity, he emphasises the need to determine “the proper role and the complementary link between the priestly apostolate and the lay apostolate in the mission of the Church, both for the formation of the laity in their apostolate as well as in the permanent collaboration between priests and laity in the exercise of this apostolate.”
He calls for clarification of the notion of Catholic Action and insists on the need to find ways for Catholics to cooperate “with all the various non-Catholic and non-Christian lay organisations and institutions, whether private or public, governmental or non-governmental, local, national and international.”
He insists on the need for collaboration between the various forms of lay apostolate as well as emphasing the importance of both charitable and social action.
A declaration by the Council
Finally, in relation to the drafting of conciliar documents, Cardijn proposes “a kind of solemn declaration by the Council insisting on the current importance of the apostolate of the laity, its growing necessity before the current problems of the world to which the Church must and desires to provide a response.”
“This declaration would also be addressed to non-Catholics and non-Christians, recalling the divine mission of the whole of creation and the whole of humanity, expressing how much the Church desires to collaborate with all people and all human institutions against the terrible scourges that threaten the world and in favour of the complete progress of the human race,” he explains.
“This union of all people in a common effort to overcome obstacles to human freedom and to promote genuine progress responds closely to the desire of the Creator and the Redeemer,” Cardijn explains.
“The Church desires to be the leaven of this union in peace for the respect, raising up and happiness of all,” he concludes, offering his vision of a Church acting from within society rather than from on high.
“The Church’s call to the faithful, members of the Church is also addressed to all people who are all created by the same God and saved by the same Christ in order that together they may be united at this decisive hour for the peace of the world and the salvation of the human race,” he notes in a final appeal for the Council to look beyond the confines of the Church itself.
Cardijn had only been back a month from the first plenary meeting of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate (PCLA) in Rome but he was already on the move again, this time to Africa for an important leaders training session of the International YCW.
Before leaving, he hurried to complete two more notes for the Commission numbered as Note 2 and Note 3. Note 3, entitled “Quelques réflexions et suggestions (A few reflections and suggestions) and dated 15 December 1960, offered a detailed response to the PCLA’s proposed plan of work.
Note 2, again entitled simply “L’apostolat des laïcs” (The apostolate of lay people) and dated 16 December 1960, explained what Cardijn characterised as the “two essential, primordial and inseparable aspects” of the lay apostolate, namely “its relationship with God, Christ and the Church; with the plan of God in the work of Creation and Redemption,” and on the other hand “its relationship with the fundamental problems of man and the world, with their influences and their depth, in their total dimension.”
Seeking theological counsel – but not in Brussels or Louvain
Before sending these notes to the PCLA, Cardijn therefore sought to get feedback from a trusted confidant and theologian, namely Mgr Désiré Joos, the vicar-general of the Diocese of Tournai in the industrial south of Belgium. Why Mgr Joos rather than say Mgr Gerard Philips, a recognised expert on the theology of the laity at the University of Louvain whom Cardijn had previously consulted?
Cardijn does not explain of course. Nevertheless, he had previously come into (theological) conflict with Philips during the preparation and holding of the Second International Congress on Lay Apostolate in Rome in October 1957 where the latter was a keynote speaker. Moreover, Philips appeared to have allied himself with the Malines-Brussels auxiliary, Bishop Léon-Joseph Suenens, who had also criticised Cardijn’s approach.
Indeed, Suenens had published a major 1958 article in the Belgian Jesuit journal, Nouvelle Revue Théologique, entitled “L’unité multiforme de l’Action catholique” (The multiform unity of Catholic Action) in which, without mentioning Cardijn, he accused the Specialised Catholic Action movements of seeking a “monopoly” of Catholic Action.
Mgr Désiré Joos and Bishop Charles-Marie Himmer of Tournai
Cardijn’s choice of Mgr Désiré Joos from Tournai was therefore highly significant. Just 20km from the northern French city of Lille, Tournai lies in the middle of the coal mining belt that extends across Belgium and into France.
Its bishop was Charles-Marie Himmer (photo above), originally from the neighbouring Diocese of Namur, who had been a JOC and Specialised Catholic Action chaplain from the 1930s. As a bishop, he had already made himself known for his closeness to the working class.
In 1952, he had organised a Social Week that began with an enquiry carried out in every parish of the diocese into the “economic and social problems” in each parish. Addressing JOC chaplains at the conclusion of this enquiry, he took as his subject “Le problème ouvrier” (The worker problem), emphasising the importance of the work of the JOC in educating young workers to enable them to face up to the issues that had emerged.
“J’ai pratiqué à plein la méthode de Cardijn : voir, juger, agir,” Bishop Himmer also said on another occasion. “I fully practised the method of Cardijn: see, judge, act.”
“J’y suis resté fidèle, et j’y crois toujours,” he continued. “I have stayed faithful to it and I still believe in it.”
So it’s little surprise that he would also choose a vicar-general cut from the same jocist cloth. Thus, Mgr Joos, who served as Himmer’s vicar-general from 1954 to 1977, was also responsible for the Specialised Catholic Action movements in the diocese.
Mgr Joos was therefore clearly a man in whom Cardijn had great confidence and who shared his vision of the lay apostolate, particularly among workers.
“You are aware that I am a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Apostolate of the Laity in preparation for the next Ecumenical Council. I had to take an oath to maintain secrecy concerning all the documents I receive – and I believe this also applies to the meetings,” Cardijn wrote, clearly vexed by these restrictions.
“However, I need to consult with people more competent than myself or seek the assistance of collaborators in relation to many issues,” he continued.
“I am not able to type and I don’t understand Italian!” he lamented. “Moreover, other collaborators are also bound to the same secrecy as I am!”
“Given these circumstances, could I ask you to read and evaluate the next two notes that I would like to send to the Commission soon,” Cardijn requested. “I also enclose the first note which I sent earlier prior to the meeting that took place last November.
Cardijn’s twin concerns: Church and world
Apologising for several repetitions in the notes, Cardijn now moved to the crux of his concerns, namely “the relationship of the lay apostolate with God, with Christ, the Church and the Hierarchy in the Church; and on the other hand, the relationship with the problems to be solved by the laity and the apostolate of the laity in our modern world.
“This second relationship is often overlooked, if not ignored, particularly in the statements and definitions. Is there a way to overcome this?” Cardijn asked. “This problem really haunts me.”
Behind his polite language, Cardijn was in effect accusing the PCLA was ignoring the world and focusing only on the Church! What kind of conception of the apostolate of the laity could there be that ignored this issue?
“The Council is a unique opportunity which will not come again for a long time,” Cardijn warned. “And by then, the problems will have been solved either by us or despite us.”
Although he does not name Bishop Himmer, we can surmise that Cardijn also wanted Mgr Joos to relay these concerns to his bishop to the extent that this was possible without compromising Cardijn’s oath of secrecy.
“By the time you receive this letter,” Cardijn concluded, “I will have left for Africa where I will remain until 24 or 25 January. On 30 January, I need to be in Rome for the second session of the Commission. However, the note needs to reach the secretariat without delay (by December 22, it seems!). Could you entrust your precise remarks to Mademoiselle Fiévez who will take care of the sending the documents once the typing is finished?
“But after my return from Africa, perhaps I could see you for a moment just before my departure for Rome and discuss all this with you again.
Please excuse me for bothering you in this way. But you will me doing me a great service. And if in your view my request seems to contradict the oath that I have taken, please feel free to reject it,” Cardijn wrote.
In an eight page typed document dated 10 December 1960 and entitled “Votum de laicis eorumque loco in Ecclesia,” (Vote on the place of lay people in the Church,” Congar sought to summarise his views in response to the Theological Commission’s outline schema on the Church.
The Church’s primary mission was the salvation of all people, Congar noted.ù
However, it also possessed a secondary mission, as he explained:
“A secondary mission of the Church (deriving from the primary mission to which it was connected): tends towards ‘consecration of the world,’ thus influencing the temporal social order a) to accord with God’s justice and charity, as far as possible, and b) ordained to God,” Congar wrote.
Each person participated in this second mission in accordance with their own state in life, Congar continued. The mission of the hierarchy was to move and direct, he noted.
However, the role of the laity was to act as a “leaven the dough, because unlike priests and monks, the lay faithful live fully in the world, were engaged in issues and thus were able to act to direct human affairs towards and for God,” Congar wrote.
Monopoly of Catholic Action?
Congar also noted the controversy that had arisen from Bishop Léon-Joseph Suenens article alleging that reserving the term Catholic Action for certain organised kinds of the lay apostolate tended to create an impression that these organisations had a monopoly over the field of Catholic Action.
Congar thus sought to set out a series of criteria for Catholic Action.
“Catholic Action existed when the hierarchy, 1) Accepted that any enterprise or work of the faithful that was undertaken either voluntarily or at the instigation of the hierarchy, fulfilled at least in part some functions that had been given to the heirs of the apostles whom the Lord had sent to “teach all nations.”
2 °) Took upon themselves to cooperate with this organisation or movement and
3° ) consequently, it gave it more specific and more active guides and studies.
“In this way, the organisations or movements of Catholic Action joined with the action and directives of the hierarchy (directives that were not despotic but policy and philosophical principles) with Catholic lay people directly and immediately responsible.”
Yves Congar, Votum de laicis eorumque loco in Ecclesia (Archives Gerard Philips, 154, Leuven)
While Cardijn worked away in the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate, Yves Congar joined the corresponding Theological Commission.
To Congar’s disconcertment, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani opened the 15 November plenary meeting announcing that there were to be five pre-determined sub-commissions to look at the various proposed schemas.
“We will be told what the members of the Commission have said and we may express our opinion, but it is not a question of writing a treatise,” Congar noted in his diary.
“We must confine ourselves to specific and necessary points,” he added, explaining the limitations on his own role as a theologian in the commission, limitations that evidently also applied to Cardijn in the PCLA.
More positively, Congar notes that the Commission will be unable to commence work on “matters of social morality” because the drafting of an encyclical for the 70th anniversary of Rerum Novarum is under way.
Intriguingly, he also adds that in the view of the conservative Dutch Jesuit, Fr Sebastian Tromp, who was the secretary to the Theological Commission, “Catholic Action and the laity are almost entirely PRACTICAL questions to be dealt with by a non-doctrinal commission created ad hoc.”
What this would mean for the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate was not clear.
After the pomp and ceremony of the previous day, finally the first plenary meeting of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate (PCLA) began on 15 November 1960.
No doubt Cardijn and his colleagues must have felt a sense of anticipation if not excitement to learn more about the task that they had been given.
They did not have long to wait because, after analysing the vota, i.e. the responses received from bishops conferences around the world, the Central Commission had decided upon the three major subjects the PCLA would tackle.
“I. The apostolate of the laity:
Determine the domain and the goals of this apostolate and its relations with the hierarchy. What are the best means for the apostolate of the laity to respond to current necessities?
II. Catholic Action:
1. To determine the notion, the domain and its subordination to the hierarchy;
2. Review its constitution in order that it be better adapted to our times;
3. Determine the relations between Catholic Action and the other associations (Marian congregations, pious unions, professional unions, etc.)
To study how the activity of existing associations could better respond during our time to the ends that they propose (charitable and social action).”
Whatever sense of elation Cardijn felt at the opening of the session must have quickly evaporated upon reading these terms of reference.
Drawing on his Three Truths dialectic and See Judge Act method, he had laid out the problems and issues facing the world, which ranged from demographic challenges to industrialisation, changes in the workforce, racism and colonialism as well as to cultural transformations and the arms race.
He had contrasted this reality with the Christian vision for humanity based on the “Creator’s plan of love.” And finally Cardijn had set out his own conception of a transformative, organised Christian lay apostolate:
“· Christians who intensively live their Christianity, their belonging to Jesus Christ ; who consciously live His message, His Gospel, in all their personal life, in all its worldly demands . . .
· Christians who are conscious of an explicit mission, who know that they are called to work for the extension of the reign of God . . .
· Christians who penetrate all the sectors, all the aspects, all the institutions of the modem world, as witnesses of Christ, carrying the doctrine of the Church with them . . .
· Christians who understand the whole importance of forming apostolic communities, of having an organised apostolate …”
And Cardijn’s 18-page 30 October note on “The apostolate of lay people” prepared specifically for the Prep Com further expanded and developed this vision.
Yet how little of Cardijn’s vision was reflected in the tasks given to the Commission.
At best, a faint echo of his concerns can perhaps be detected in the first question submitted to the commission: “What are the best means for the apostolate of the laity to respond to current necessities?”
Clearly, however, there was much greater concern over relations between laity and hierarchy and ensuring the “subordination” of Catholic Action movements as well as to pacify tensions between Catholic Action groups and others with a more “pious” orientation.
Nor did the reference to “charitable and social action” come anywhere near Cardijn’s vision of Christians living the Gospel in their “personal life,” working to “extend the reign of God” or penetrating and transforming the various sectors and institutions of the modern world.
From Cardijn’s point of view, the mission given to the PCLA was not back to the future but back to the past.
After the earlier misunderstanding (and disappointment) over a sub-commission involving lay people, it was not a promising start.
Ferdinand Klostermannn, “Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity,” in Herbert Vorgrimler (ed.), Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, Herder and Herder, New York, 1969,273-404.
An undated and unidentified press clipping in the JOCI Archives, probably from the French Catholic paper, La Croix in September 1960, notes the appointment to the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate of Archbishop Gabriel-Marie Garrone of Toulouse, “one of the French prelates who had taken a very keen interest in the Action Catholique Ouvrière,” the Workers Catholic Action movement.
Originally a priest from the Diocese of Chambéry in the French Alps, Garrone had been an early and ardent supporter of the JOC and other Specialised Catholic Action movements.
In 1958, he published a short book entitled “L’Action catholique,” explaining the importance of the Specialised Catholic Action movements.
On 26 October 1959, Bishop Charles-Marie Himmer of Tournai, a long-standing proponent of the JOC and Specialised Catholic Action, wrote to Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal DomenicTardini, with his reflections for the Ante-Preparatory Commission.
He first sought clarification on “moral” issues, particularly marital questions. He also raised the issue of using vernacular language in the mass and the use of more appropriate scriptural readings.
Finally, he sought clarification of the notion of Catholic Action, which had been under challenge in various quarters.
“Rogatur ut conceptus actionis catholicae a Pio XI traditus elucidetur et servetur ad rite secernendam hanc apostolatus laicorum formam nostris temporibus maxime adaptatam ab aliis speciebus apostolatus in quibus laici sese devovent.”
Rough translation based on Google
It is requested to clarify the concept of Catholic Action that Pius XI regarded as especially adapted to our times for the promotion of the apostolate of lay people…