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.
PETROPOLIS, Brazil, Nov. 9 (NC) —The Young Christian Workers at their second international congress here received a pat on the back and a go-ahead sign sent in behalf of His Holiness Pope John XXIII.
Amleto Cardinal Cicognani, Papal Secretary of State, wrote that “the Holy Father, who is extremely pleased by the progress accomplished by the YCWs, encourages them with all his heart to go forward, strengthened by the grace of Christ Jesus.”
The letter written in behalf of Pope John noted that the congress had a double theme—preparation for family life and the international action of the YCW. It continued:
“It Is absolutely necessary that, in the upheavals of the modern world, the family should retain its character as a sacred sanctuary, in which man and woman fulfill themselves in conjugal love and the Joys of fatherhood and motherhood. The YCW has already done a great deal, but it will never be able to enough to train these young people who tomorrow will be the heads of families and the guardians of homes.
“And we must rejoice that its representatives should make their voices heard at the great international organizations in favor of legislation which will allow all young workers to enjoy living and working conditions which would promote the greater human and Christian fulfillment of their personalities.”
Cardinal Cicognani transmitted the Pope’s wish that the YCW congress would “be the starting point of anew inpulse of the Young Christian Workers, especially in the countries of Latin America, which are so dear to him.”
The letter, addressed to Canada’s Romeo Malone, retiring president of the International YCW, had a special commendation for “tireless Msgr. (Joseph) Cardijn,” the founder and chaplain general of the movement.
Petropolis, Brazil, Nov. 7 —Youthful workers of the world celebrated the birthday of His Holiness Pope John XXIII with a pageant portraying the problems of farm laborers.
The pageant, a feature of the second world congress of the Young Christian Workers, invoked the principles of the Pope*s recent encyclical on social Justice.
The actors engaged the audience of delegates from 85 nations in a dialogue-chorus appealing for the development of backward countries.
During the pageant a group of young Congolese sang a “Missa Luba,” which combined Gregorian melodies with African rhythms in a dialogue between the Church of the past and the Church of the future.
The pageant and the religious music were presented on November 4, fourth day of the 13-day congress. Pope John marked his birthday that day, third anniversary of his coronation, although he does not reach the age of 80 until November 25.
A dramatic moment in the Missa Luba came at the Credo, when the words of Christ’s death were accompanied by the muffled beat of drums which announce the death of a great king in the Congo. Word of the Resurrection was greeted with a Joyous beating of Jungle tomtoms.
At the close of the pageant, delegates from all 85 nations filed before the microphone to address birthday greetings to the Pope in their native languages. A series of small congresses were held in 150 Brazilian cities to prepare for the world congress here.
The Young Christian Workers have about half a million members in Brazil. Their world membership Is edging toward the three-million mark. Simultaneous with the YCW world congress in this resort town 25 miles from Rio de Janeiro, the first National Congress of Young Workers met in Rio.
Both congresses are to close at a Joint rally in a sports stadium.
Many of the delegates helped pay the passage of delegates unable to purchase their own tickets. Brazil*s YCW contributed about $3-4,000 to pay hotel expenses for delegates.
One of Cardijn’s concerns while in Rome was evidently to ensure that there was a papal message for the imminent International Council of the YCW due to start shortly in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
He was not disappointed.
On 25 October 1961, Cardinal Amleto Cicognani addressed a letter on behalf of John XXIII to (outgoing) IYCW president, Romeo Maione.
“The presence at this Brazilian meeting of nearly 300 national leaders of the Y.C.W. of all countries is a witness to the vitality of your movement throughout the world and there is no doubt that this meeting will result in a new missionary development and strengthen the union of young workers of all races and colours in the Mystical Body of Christ,” Cardinal Cicognani wrote.
“The Holy Father, who is extremely pleased by the progress accomplished by the Y.C.W.’s, encourages them with all his heart to go forward, strengthened by the grace of Christ Jesus. For it is in Him that they must be, as the Apostle says, “rooted and built up, and confirmed in the faith, abounding in Him in thanksgiving,” (Col. 2, 7). What a splendid task it is to share in the redemption of all the working youth of the world and to reveal to it, no matter what be its material, moral and spiritual misery, the image of the living God, creator and redeemer of our souls!
“Thus the Y.C.W.’s, by their very life, their work sanctified by the state of grace, and their action based on prayer and nourished with sacramental graces, will share in the edification of the body of Christ (Eph, A, 12). United in the friendship and animated by charity, their constant concern will be to achieve a personal apostolate in their environment, in union with the other Catholic youth movements, and to give to their working comrades the example of an attractive Christian community.
Preparing young workers for family life
Evidently, Cardinal Cicognani had been well briefed on the topics the Council was to deal with.
“The programme of these days of study is largely concerned with “the preparation of young workers for family life” and the international action of the Y,C.W. ,” he continued. “These are without doubt two subjects of capital importance.
“For it is absolutely necessary that, in the upheavals of the modern world, the family should retain its character as a sacred sanctuary, in which man and woman fulfil themselves in conjugal love and the joys of fatherhood and mother hood. The Y.C.W. has already done a great deal, but it will never do enough to train these young people, who to morrow will be the heads of families and the guardians of homes. And we must rejoice that its representatives should make their voice heard at the great international organizations in favour of legislation enabling still more all young workers to enjoy conditions of life and work permitting the greater human and Christian fulfilment of their personalities.
Mater et Magistra
And Cardinal Cicognani did not miss the opportunity to mention Pope John’s recent encyclical, Mater et Magistra, which had been suggested by Cardijn himself and specifically recommended the Jocist “see-judge-act” method.
“The Holy Father, who again recently has expressed his paternal solicitude for all workers in his Encyclical Letter MATER ET MAGISTRA, is hoping that the Rio de Janeiro meeting will mark a new development of the Y.C.W., especially in the countries of Latin America, which are so dear to him.
“And that is why he grants a fatherly Apostolic Blessing to tireless Mgr. Cardijn, to yourself who are to preside this meeting, to all taking part in this Second International Council, and to all the chaplains and leaders of the great Y.C.W. family throughout the world.
“I am happy to send you this precious encouragement of His Holiness and I should like to express my own best wishes for the work of the leaders of the groat international Catholic movement of young workers,” the cardinal concluded.
On 7 October 1961, Cardinal Valerian Gracias of Bombay, India, addressed a message to the IYCW for its International Council in Rio de Janeiro.
7th October, 1961
I am happy to learn that the 2nd International Council of the Y.C.W. (J.O.C.) will be held at Rio de Janeiro from the 2nd to the 19th November, 1961. Delegates from all over the world will assemble to exchange views, to assess what has been done in the past and to plan for the future. The very fact that the delegates meet will be for each one of them a source of added strength and encouragement for the great and noble vocation which is theirs as Young Christian Workers of the world. The Council will certainly contribute to a greater sense of solidarity and help in no small measure to further promote the cause of this apostolate of the Young Workers.
This movement, begun in Belgium under Canon Cardijn, has slowly developed and gained momentum like the proverbial mustard seed of the Gospel, and to-day it has blossomed into an enormous tree with its branches outspread to carry the Christian message far and wide. No greater compliment could have been paid to the Y.C.W. movement than the recent reference made by our Holy Father, Pope John XXIII, in his recent Encyclical Letter “MATER ET MAGISTRA”, in which he clearly indicates the three stages in the practical application of social principles: look, judge, act, and says:
“It is particularly important that youth be made to dwell often on these three stages, and as far as possible, reduce them to action. The knowledge acquired in this way does not remain merely abstract ideas but is something to be translated into deed.”
I bless abundantly all the delegates who will assemble for the 2nd International Council and wish their deliberations every success.
BRUSSELS, Aug. 10—Requiem Mass has been offered here for Josef Cardinal van Roey, who defied the nazis, battled the communists and brought school peace to his nation after more than a century of Church-State strife.
The Archbishop of Malines died (Aug. 6) at the age of 87. Long a victim of a circulatory ailment, he took a turn for the worse and received Extreme Unction the day before his death.
Belgium’s King Baudouin and Queen Pablóla, whom the Cardinal married last December, were out of the country when he died. They were expected to return for his funeral. Also due to return for the funeral was Belgian Premier Theo Lefevre.
After the Requiem Mass in St. Rombaut’a cathedral, presided over by Archbishop Efrem Forni, Apostolic Nuncio to Belgium, the cardinal was buried in the cathedral’s crypt.
Cardinal van Roey was the third member of the College of Cardinals to die within eight days. Domenico Cardinal Tardini died on July 30 and Nicola Cardinal Canall died on August 3. Their deaths reduce membership in the Sacred College to 81.
(At his summer residence in Castelgandolfo, Italy, His Holiness Pope John XXIII went to his private chapel to pray as soon as he was told of Cardinal van Roey’s death. The Pope offered his August 7 Mass for the repose of the Cardinal’s soul.)
Cardinal van Roey was bom in Vorsselaer, Belgium, on January 13, 1874. After studying at the Malines seminary he was ordained a priest on September 18, 1897.
After earning a doctorate at the Catholic University of Louvain, he taught theology there until 1907# when he was made vicar general, of the Malines archdiocese. He was named Archbishop of Malines in 1926 and created a cardinal a year later.
The Cardinal took a special interest in Catholic Action activities and set up a Catholic Action committee in every parish to coordinate the work of various organizations.
The Catholic congress at Malines which he organized in 1936 to give the nation’s Catholics doctrinal direction on religious, social, economic and cultural matters, is a milestone in the history of the Churoh In Belgium.
The rise of nazism in Europe brought the Cardinal perhaps the greatest challenge of his career. His reaction was among his greatest achievements.
Even before the outbreak of war, in Deoember, 1938, Cardinal Van Roey condemned nazi race theories as an expression of materialism. The Cardinal stated: “To consider the will, morality and even religion as coining from the blood is to reduce high values to mere material things.” Such race theories, he added, represent for men “what stockbreeding is for cattle.”
With the fall and occupation of Belgium in the early days of World War II, the Cardinal became a center of resistance to the nazi invaders. His resistance at first was of the passive variety, a display of the silent diplomacy which had earned him a reputation as the “silent Cardinal.” By simply refusing to reply either to friendly overtures or gibes from the nazis, the Cardinal frustrated their efforts to persuade Catholics to collaborate with them.
But when Belgian quislings began a violent attack on the Church, the Cardinal fought back.
“The unjustified invasion of a country,” he declared in an address to a Catholic Action group in September, 1941, “cannot be defended on moral grounds. There are those who say that the Church can adapt Itself to any regime. We must distinguish. The Church adapts herself to any regime that safeguards liberty and does not violate conscience. If a regime violates the rights of conscience, the Church does not adapt herself.”
He added: “It is not licit for Catholics to collaborate in the introduction of a regime of oppression… Reason and good sense will direct us in the way of confidence, or resistance, because we are certain that our country will be restored and will rise again.”
The Cardinal followed his words with actions. He ordered the expulsion from Catholic schools of students who Joined nazi youth organizations, forbade Catholics to read collaborationist papers, refused admittance to churches to uniformed groups of collaborators.
Following the war the Cardinal was quid: to recognize and speak out against the threat of communism. In a pastoral letter to Belgian Catholics he said: “We admired the Russians when they were defending their country and contributing to the collapse of the nazis. Why should Russia now sully its glory by persecuting millions for their faith?”
As Europe strove to recover from the effects of the war, Cardinal van Roey wrote in “While the United States—whose spirit of human solidarity and Christian charity has been admirable all over Europe since the end of the fighting—proposes to offer material help enabling exhausted nations to recuperate, one witnesses this incredible spectacle: Soviet Russia, its satellites and partisans, not only repudiate any help for the peoples that they dominate, but strain every nerve to thwart this kind offer.”
Meanwhile, the Cardinal also warned against a postwar wave of anticlericalism in Belgium, which manifested itself especially in efforts to reduce the subsidies granted by the government to Catholic schools. Typical of his many statements on this subject was his 1957 Lenten pastoral, which declared that such a campaign to impede Catholic education “hurts freedom of conscience and violates equality among citizens.”
His efforts led to the 1958 school pact signed by Belgium’s three main political parties which ended the generations-old controversy over government aid to Catholic schools. The pact doubled the subsidies granted to Church schools and put them on a par with provincial and local-government schools in regard to state aid.
Early in 1960 the Cardinal and Belgium’s Catholics were praised for their efforts to spread the Faith in the Belgian Congo, now an independent nation. The praise came In a letter to Cardinal van Roey from Gregorio Pietro XV Cardinal Agagianlan, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.
At the same time Cardinal van Roey, who had given protection to persecuted Belgian Jews as he fought the nazis during the wartime occupation, again spoke out against a renewed wave of antisemitism.
Last December the Cardinal successfully urged workers engaged in a series of strikes that threatened to paralyze the nation to return to their Jobs. During the same month he officiated at King Baudouin’s marriage.
As usual, Cardijn maximised his trips to Rome, taking the opportunity to visit various Vatican officials.
On 3 July, he met with Pope John XXIII’s Substitute, Archbishop Angelo Dell’Acqua to make a number of requests that he summarised in an aide-mémoire he prepared:
First, he requested a “”essage from the Holy Father for Rio de Janeiro” i.e. the International YCW World Council scheduled for the end of 1961.
Secondly, he requested “honorary distinctions for the former leaders of the YCW International Bureau (1957 to 1961).”
Thirdly, he sought an honour for “the former National President of the KAJ (JOC Flemish) on the occasion of the 50th pilgrimage to Lourdes that he was organising for the sick.”
Fourthly, he raised the problem of how to contact the JOC in post-revolutionary Cuba.
“The regime and situation of certain States, such as Cuba, for example, makes it very difficult for the International Secretariat of the YCW to transmit its advice and the apostolic directives intended for them to the YCWs of these countries,” he explained.
“Would it be possible for the International Secretariat of the YCW to submit these communications in an open envelope to the Belgian Nunciature with a request to forward them to the Secretariat of State which would determine the possibility of sending them through diplomatic channels to the Representatives of the Holy See in these countries?”
Finally, in a handwritten addition, he requested financial assistance for the travel of World Council delegates from “Africa, Asia, certain European countries (illegible) …. Central America.”
It seems he had received assurances of this from Archbishops Samorè (Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs) and Sigismondi (Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith) on this matter.
On 20 June 1961, Cardijn wrote to Pope John XXIII’s Substitute, Archbishop Angelo Dell’Acqua, to inform him that he would soon be in Rome again and to seek another meeting with him. As always he was concerned with the future of the International YCW.
“I am sorry for disturbing Your Excellency,” Cardijn began. “I am coming to Rome from 3rd to 13th July. I need to attend the meetings of the Pontifical Commission for the Lay Apostolate until Saturday evening 8 July. The following three days I will be free to make a few visits.
“I would be very grateful if Your Excellency could receive me for a few moments, so that I could tell Him about our very important World Council in Rio de Janeiro in November, which will certainly decide the future of the international YCW.”
Never one to miss an opportunity, he also wrote similar letters to Archbishop Pietro Sigismondi, who had been secretary of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith since 1954, and Archbishop Antonio Samorè, who was secretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, which was in effect the Vatican Foreign Affairs ministry.
Belgian priest, Fr Basil Maes, the future national director of the Belgian Catholic development agency, Broederlijk Delen, and chaplain to Caritas Catholica Belgica, later recalled Cardijn’s joy on hearing of its publication.
“I still see him joyfully entering my room, enthusiastically shouting: ‘Basil, it’s happened! See, judge, act!’.”
Indeed, §236-237 of the new encyclical had explicitly endorsed the jocist see-judge-act method:
236. There are three stages which should normally be followed in the reduction of social principles into practice. First, one reviews the concrete situation; secondly, one forms a judgment on it in the light of these same principles; thirdly, one decides what in the circumstances can and should be done to implement these principles. These are the three stages that are usually expressed in the three terms: look, judge, act.
237. It is important for our young people to grasp this method and to practice it. Knowledge acquired in this way does not remain merely abstract, but is seen as something that must be translated into action.
As we have seen, this was the culmination of much effort and advocacy, beginning with his proposal to Pope John XXIII, his and Marguerite Fiévez’s advocacy with others including Mgr Pietro Pavan and no doubt many others.
Less explicitly, the encyclical also adopted much of Cardijn’s positive theology of work, not as a punishment or merely a means of earning a livelihood but as a sharing in God’s work of creation.
On 19 March 1961, the Feast of St Joseph, Pope John XXIII, whose baptismal name was Giuseppe (Joseph) Angelo Roncalli, proclaimed him as the patron saint of the Second Vatican Council, as Cardijn himself noted (image above).
“Besides a few glimpses of his recurring figure here and there in the writings of the Fathers, he has remains for centuries and centuries in his characteristic hiding, almost as a figure of ornament in the picture of the life of the Savior,” Pope John wrote.
“And it took some time before his cult penetrated from the eyes into the hearts of the faithful, and drew from it special elevations of prayer and trusting abandonment.
“These were the fervent joys reserved for the effusions of the modern age: oh! how copious and impressive; and of these we are particularly pleased to immediately grasp a very characteristic and significant relief,” he added.
It was only with the advent of the modern popes, from Pope Pius IX till Pius XII, who raised his profile in the Church and among the faithful.
Pope Pius XII, in fact, had proclaimed St Joseph as patron saint of workers, John noted.
In a similar spirit, he now proclaimed his patron of the Second Vatican Council.
“The Council is made for all the Christian people who are interested in it for that more perfect circulation of grace, of Christian vitality, which makes the purchase of the truly precious goods of the present life easier and quicker, and ensures the riches of eternal centuries,” Pope John explaining why he had chosen Joseph, a lay man, as patron of the Council.