In another note, later numbered Note 14 and entitled “General remarks,” Cardijn offered his overall assessment of the three draft documents of the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate.
“It is not easy to locate oneself among all the Commission documents,” he began, clearly not impressed by what he regarded as a confusing presentation.
Could we not adopt the following general line, which was that of the beginning of the work of the Commission:
Part 1: DE APOSTOLATU LAICORUM – notion, relation to the apostolate of the Hierarchy, – etc. (What’s the latest official document on this topic? There are two versions of TC3 / SCI.).
Part 2: DE LAICORUM APOSTOLATU IN ACTIONE SOCIALI TC1 / SC.II
DE ACTIONS SOCIALI (What is the latest official document? There are also two versions of TC1 / SCII).
Part 3: DE APOSTOLATU IN ACTIONE CARITATIVA – TC2 / SCIII
Part 4: VARIA – the complete document.
Couldn’t a sort of Table of Contents be made that clearly shows the rest of the subjects treated?
II. THE PREAMBLES.
Couldn’t the various preambles be reduced to one in order to avoid repetitions and variations. If necessary, short introductions could highlight certain subjects or aspects.
The apostolate proper to the laity
As always, his primary was concern related to the lack of understanding of and lack of attention to the genuine apostolate of the laity:
It is notable there is a mixing in the documents between the apostolate proper to the laity and the apostolate of the laity directed directly by the clergy, in congregations, third orders, works of charity, in catechesis, liturgy, etc. (see note on “The Materially and Formally Lay Apostolate”).
I continue to regret that a chapter has not been devoted to the apostolate proper to the laity, to its necessity and importance in the world, to the construction of a world “as God wills,” and to the realisation of a truly fraternal society appropriate to the world today. No doubt the document speaks of this in several places, but it is as if by the way, in the midst of other forms of secular apostolate. It does not highlight the urgency and irreplaceable necessity; on the contrary, this diluted form diminishes its primordial value and importance.
Collaboration with the hierarchy
Nor was Cardijn satisfied with the way the draft documents dealt with relations between lay people and the hierarchy:
Can we also not:
a/ Show that the Hierarchy is in the service of the whole Church, of the progress of the whole;
b/ Emphasise the need for dialogue between the Hierarchy and the laity, for joint research, for collaboration?
Apostolic action and/or social action
Here Cardijn was concerned again to overcome any kind of division between spiritual and secular spheres:
Should it not be said that almost every secular apostolic action is or must be social, and that every Christian social action is apostolic?
Shouldn’t the terms used in the two documents dealing with this issue be reviewed in this regard: TC3 / SCI and TC1 / SCII?
From charitable action to social justice
Cardijn’s critique of the document on charitable was particularly strong.
“Most of the organised charity is actually directed by the clergy,” he lamented. “The laity are most often the executors or bear only half the responsibility.
“If we speak of a charitable action of the laity, should we not insist in the document that the initiative and responsibility for this action be effectively borne by them?” he asked.
Further he was concerned to emphasise that many fields of action regarded as charitable in fact should be categorised as areas involving justice issues:
“Some major global problems such as the fight against hunger, disease, inadequate and unhealthy housing, action against illiteracy or youth abandonment, campaigns to support migrants, orphans and the elderly, can they still be categorised as charitable works?” he asked.
“Are there not issues of justice and national and international solidarity, for the solution of which private initiative must claim its participation and maintain its freedom, but in which public, national and international responsibility must also be asserted, as well as the right and duty, for Catholics, to take an active and important part in this?”
The apostolic sense of the laity
Overall, however, Cardijn was concerned at the lack of understanding in the documents and emphasis on lay people’s vocation in their own lives:
Should not the inadequacy or lack of apostolic meaning among the faithful be attributed first and foremost to a lack of conviction and insistence on the part of the first leaders of Christian formation: priests, men and women religious?
Is there enough emphasis on the indispensable, irreplaceable, paramount mission of the laity in the Church?
Is there sufficient explanation of this mission in life, the milieux of life regarding the problems and institutions of life? Is it sufficiently explained how the whole life of lay people needs to become apostolic in order to build the world as God desires it to be?
Is there adequate explanation of the transformation indispensable to the present world through the transformation of life on the personal and collective level, national and international level as well as in the private and public spheres?
Everything is linked; and each is impossible without the other.
Joseph Cardijn, Note 14 – Remarques générales (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)
Joseph Cardijn, Note 14 – General Remarks (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)