Proposed new Vatican lay apostolate body

On 27 February 1963, Jean Rodhain, wrote to Mgr Jean Streiff, secretary general of French Catholic Action and now also a member of the Lay Apostolate Commission, informing him of a proposal discussed in the commission for a new Vatican body dealing with the lay apostolate.

SOURCE

Archives Streiff 605

“The lay apostolate on a global scale”

On 4 January 1963, Jean-Pierre Delarge sent to Marguerite Fiévez a draft contract for the publication of Cardijn’s book under the title of “L’apostolat des laïcs à la dimension du monde” or “The lay apostolate on a global scale.”

SOURCE

Archives Cardijn 1788

Cardijn’s role at the Council

In an undated checklist probably written around 29 October when he was organising his trip to Rome, Cardijn lists the topics he wished to raise with Secretary of State, Archbishop Angelo dell’Acqua.

Checklist

  • Presence in Rome during the Council
  • Support for YCW Missionary Action:

1. by the Council

2. by Propaganda Fide

3. by certain foundations

Publication of “The Apostolate of the Laity in the dimension of the world”.

Clearly, Cardijn was seeking some clarity on the role he could or should play during the Council, given the fact that he had not been made a peritus.

Again, he frames his visit in terms of looking for assistance for YCW rather than lobbying or advocating at the Council.

Interestingly and significantly, he is more specific in the mention of his book on “the apostolate of the laity,” an issue he had avoided mentioning in his communication with Suenens.

SOURCE

Archives Cardijn 1300

A letter of concern to Pope John

On 8 October 1962 – three days before the official opening of the First Session of the Council – the members of the IYCW International Secretariat wrote to Pope John expressing their hopes and commitments for the Council.

Their main concern however was to ensure recognition of the apostolate of the laity as understand by the YCW movement and promoted by Cardijn:

We also thought of expressing a hope that exists throughout the whole Church by requesting Your Holiness that the Second Vatican Council specify the mission of the apostolate of the laity and of the organised laity in the Church, and provide orientations regarding its insertion into the overall pastoral care of the Church. As a movement of young workers, we would like to humbly request official recognition of the need for the proper, personal and community apostolate of the workers and young workers themselves, and an insistence on the apostolic formation which needs be given to this population group. 

In light of Cardijn’s difficulties in the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate, the ongoing criticism from Cardinal Suenens and the fact that Cardijn had not been appointed as a peritus, it is clear that the IYCW leaders were highly concerned at the direction the Council might take,

Read the full letter below.


To His Holiness Pope John XXIII.

Most Holy Father,

On the occasion of the annual meeting of its Executive Committee, which took place in Berlin in September 1962, the International YCW wishes to express to Your Holiness, on the eve of the opening of the Ecumenical Council of Vatican II, how much it participates in the faith and hope which animate Catholics throughout the world before this event of providential value for the life of the Church both at present and for the future. She especially wishes to thank Your Holiness for having convened this Council, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and for having deployed, with a view to its preparation, an immense activity in which so many personalities so rich in thought and experience were associated.

In the name of the entire international YCW, we wish to inform Your Holiness how much we pledge,, to unite ourselves with the Council in prayer and apostolic action among the young workers of the whole world.

Henceforth, we promise Your Holiness and the whole Hierarchy of the Church that, with the grace of Christ, we will neglect no effort to put into practice the orientations that the Council will provide, in the same attitude of fidelity and with the same enthusiasm, with which we have endeavoured to spread knowledge and worked on the application of the providential encyclical “Mater et Magistra.”

Your Holiness knows how, in more than 90 countries of the world, young men and women workers within the YCW and the Church are striving to respond to their vocation as apostles of Christ and the Church in the whole of their lives, in all their circles, among their working brothers and sisters. It is the YCW’s intention to constantly multiply among the humble and the little ones of this world the number of those who commit themselves to live Christianly and apostolically, to unite them in an organised laity and to collaborate with the Hierarchy for the Christian solution of the problems of life and the Christianisation of all young workers of the whole world.

It is in this spirit that we would like to express to Your Holiness some good wishes, which we humbly ask Him to submit to the Ecumenical Council.

The surveys that the YCW has carried out in all the countries where it exists regularly underline how much living conditions, both in rich and industrialised countries and in developing countries, influence the religious and moral life of young workers. Could we express the desire that in the pastoral care and liturgy of the Church, an effort be made to be very close to the realities of the life of young workers so that they can more easily find an answer to their spiritual hunger in the Church?

We also thought of expressing a hope that exists throughout the whole Church by requesting Your Holiness that the Second Vatican Council specify the mission of the apostolate of the laity and of the organised laity in the Church, and provide orientations regarding its insertion into the overall pastoral care of the Church. As a movement of young workers, we would like to humbly request official recognition of the need for the proper, personal and community apostolate of the workers and young workers themselves, and an insistence on the apostolic formation which needs be given to this population group. 

To concretise this participative effort of young workers in the Council through prayer, the International YCW has launched an appeal to all the national movements, requesting that they ask YCW members and young workers to offer up to the Lord all their work every Friday for the duration of the Council. This offering of work with its joys and sorrows, or sometimes the offering up of a “lack of work,” is a prayer that the young workers will make in union with the prayers of the whole Church for the success of the Council.

Your Holiness, please accept with all Your goodness as the common Father of men, the feeling of total adherence as well as the desires and the promises which we wish to express in the name of the young workers of the world.

Renewing the expression of our total fidelity to Your Holiness, we humbly request You to give Your paternal blessing to the whole movement throughout the world.

Bartolo Perez, President.

Jos. Cardijn, Chaplain General.

Brussels, October 8, 1962.

Betty Villa, Vice President.

Brussels, 8 October, 1962.

Source

JOCI Archives 6.3

The lay apostolate

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

“ work

“ family

“ culture

“ leisure

sections: backgrounds

continents

suggestions: methodology

missionary

technicians

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.

SOURCE

Original French

Joseph Cardijn, L’apostolat des laïcs (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Joseph Cardijn, The lay apostolate (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Draft constitution ‘well received’

On 5 July 1962, the Preparatory Commission for Lay Apostolate wrote to its members to inform them that the draft “Constitutionis Apostolatu Laicorum” had been “well received.”

We are pleased to inform you that the files of the Constitution on the Apostolate of the Laity, prepared with your skilful collaboration, proposed to the Central Commission for discussion in the last Session, were very well received.

Certain improvements of minor importance were indeed required, which are now being reduced, with the help of the Members who live in Rome.

Taking the opportunity again and again, we send our greatest greetings to you and we predict a very happy outcome in your apostolate.

SOURCE

Archives Cardijn 1584

Schema on Lay Apostolate finalised

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.

SOURCE

Stefan Gigacz, The Leaven in the Council, Chapter 6, Church, world and lay apostolate (Australian Cardijn Institute)

General remarks

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.

SOURCE

Original French

Joseph Cardijn, Note 14 – Remarques générales (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, Note 14 – General Remarks (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Detailed remarks

Along with his Note 15 on the Materially and Formally Lay Apostolate of Lay People, Cardijn prepared two additional notes (13 and 14) offering his particular and general remarks on the three draft documents prepared by the PCLA on lay apostolate, social action and charitable action.

Lay apostolate

With respect to the draft document on lay apostolate, as always he insisted on the need to emphasise the specifically lay vocation of lay people.

“Isn’t there a way to begin with what is proper to lay people: ‘negotia mundi christiane gerendo, ordinem temporalem Christo lucrifacere et in Deum ordinare…’,” he asked.

He lamented that “the lack of an apostolic sense and apostolic spirit” among lay people was “certainly the consequence of lack in religious formation.”

But he added that this was because “priests and religious responsible for this religious formation do not believe in the apostolic mission of lay people in the Church.”

” Isn’t it necessary to make an appeal” to these priests and religious, he asked. “Isn’t it necessary to insist on the unity of life under every aspect? It is the separation between temporal life and religious life that is the greatest evil of our time.”

He called for “parents to involve their sons and daughters in joining apostolic movements appropriate to their age and situation, most of on leaving school and starting work?”

Cardijn also insisted on the importance of ecumenical collaboration in this context.

“Should nothing be said about collaboration and coordination with non-Catholics and non-Christians, for certain moral, social, cultural, economic, etc.,” he asked.

Social action

Here Cardijn’s concern was on prevention rather than palliating social problems.

“In a true economic and social order should we not prevent evils, rather than organising insurance that covers certain consequences of these evils? For example, regarding unemployment, shouldn’t everything be done to prevent or eliminate it, rather than guaranteeing a subsidy, even if it is adequate, for the unemployed?

“It is the same thing for all these evils, including accidents, illnesses, robots, etc.”

As always, he insisted on the need for a focus on young people, particularly young working people.

“Above all, there is the problem of young people, including their preparation for working life, their recruitment for businesses, apprenticeship, security, etc.,” he wrote. “Lack of jobs, lack of interest and stability are among the greatest scourges affecting young people in certain countries and continents.”

He was particularly critical of the draft chapter on global issues.

“This chapter seems too weak to me,” Cardijn wrote:

“I would prefer a solemn and pressing appeal to all Christians and to people – and above all to the ruling authorities – for a deep search based on loyal understanding and effective collaboration, with a view to ending

– underdevelopment in all its forms;

– the increasingly disastrous arms race, which increases mistrust between peoples;

– public immorality, bargaining and espionage between nations and inhuman situations within nations.

AN IMPRESSIVE DECLARATION affirming that the Church is ready for unanimous participation in the efforts necessary to bring about justice, charity and peace among all people, of all races and every opinion, would provide a witness for the whole world.”

Charitable action

Here Cardijn was concerned with what he felt was a limited understanding of charitable action.

“I note that the definition includes all acts and all works inspired by charity, whether they are individual or collective acts or works, of national or international scope, relating to the social or cultural order, assistance or exchange, public or private initiative.

“It seems to me that this document confuses acts of charity performed by Christians (acts performed by virtue of the love of God and neighbour) and the action of assistance which needs to respond, at the individual and collective level, to the needs of our most disadvantaged brothers and sisters, in the temporal, social, moral, etc. fields. The purpose of this document is to deal with this assistance action in its various forms and in the various fields,” he warned.

Instead, he proposed the following emphases:

1. Acts and works of assistance, mutual aid, etc. should be animated by supernatural charity. We create them or we suggest them, we make them act or we participate in them, through supernatural charity; and it is this supernatural charity that the lay apostle diffuses there, even when the people or authorities who create or manage these institutions are animated by a spirit of philanthropy or merely human social assistance.

2. There are acts and works of a charitable nature which respond to personal, particular or hidden needs, and Christians need to be educated to seek them out and devote themselves to them. But in the modern world, it is necessary that all Christians understand the collective needs that affect large sectors of humanity and endanger its future: material, physical, social and cultural needs economic, technical and scientific needs… It is also necessary for Christians be the first to seek an answer to these problems through effective and unanimous mutual aid. Thus hunger, disease, the inadequacy of technical and scientific equipment are not scourges which relate uniquely to charitable activity, but rather activities of human solidarity and collaboration. For Christians, these activities will be prompted and animated by supernatural charity.

Nevertheless, Cardijn equally emphasised the importance of the Christian obligation to charitable action, which he said “should be genuinely proposed as the fundamental sign of a Christian: the love of God, which manifests itself in and through love and assistance given to the other.”

But while insisting on respect and protection of the freedom to take social and charitable action, he also emphasised “the need for a loyal and objective collaboration of Christians in the socialisation of this order. “

“We should recommend to Christians not to distance themselves from institutions, works and organisations, whether private and public, national and international, created or directed by unbelievers, on a non-confessional or multi-confessional basis,” he emphasised.

And in this field, it was even more necessary than elsewhere for formation “to become formative action” which also needed to be “apostolic at the same time.”

Catholic Action

Unsurprisingly, Cardijn was particularly preoccupied with the draft chapter on Catholic Action. Here he called for a total revision, particularly in relation to:

The apostolate of organised lay people.

The apostolate proper to organised lay people..

The responsibility of lay leaders of Catholic Action with respect to method, action and organisation.

The links and relationship with the hierarchy.

Specialisation and coordination.

Young people and adults.

Young people

Finally, he called for attention to young people from various milieux and for attention to the method of their education.

“This document should address the following issues,” he said:

1. Notion of apostolate by young people.

2. Its necessity and importance.

3. Specialisation and coordination.

4. Young workers.

5. Young rural people.

6. Young students

7. The fundamental method of educating young people.

SOURCE

Original French

Joseph Cardijn, Note 13 – Remarques particulières (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, Note 13 – Detailed remarks (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

The formally and materially lay apostolate of lay people

On 8 March 1962, Cardijn finalises a new note (Note 15) for the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate entitled “The formally and materially lay apostolate of lay people.”

He borrows this distinction between “formally and materially lay apostolate” from another unnamed member of the PCLA.

“This distinction is not of my making,” he explains. “It comes from one of the most eminent members of our Commission.

“If, despite my previous interventions and notes, I am returning to this point, it is because I believe that, at this hour which is so decisive for the Church and the world, our Commission would be failing in its mission if it did not highlight the ‘formally secular’ lay apostolate of lay people.

“Without this, the materially apostolate of lay people will not only be inadequate but it may also be harmful to lay people themselves as well as to the Church as a whole,” he warns.

He explains further:

Purpose and necessity

1. The material apostolate of lay people is that which all the faithful are called to exercise (priests, religious and lay people); it is the apostolate of prayer, suffering, liturgy, catechesis, charity, etc.

2. The formally lay apostolate of lay people is the apostolate proper to them. No one will be able to exercise it in their place and the world will not be evangelised in all its dimension if they fail to take it on themselves; it is irreplaceable. It is essential to the Church and complementary to the apostolate of the priesthood.

3. The formally lay apostolate of lay people is increasingly important for the future of humanity. Because it is their apostolate embedded and lived out in their secular life (family, social, cultural, political), in the milieux of their lives, and in the problems and structures of temporal life (technical, scientific, economic, etc.) As Pius XII said,

“the Church today more than ever needs young workers (lay people) to valiantly build, in joy and in difficulty, in successes and trials, the world as God wants it, a fraternal society in which the suffering of the most humble will be shared and alleviated. May your apostolate therefore be exercised in a perspective of universality and always, as appropriate, in filial submission to the ecclesiastical hierarchy; may it find there the source of its effectiveness and of its fidelity to the intentions of Christ.”

And he continued:

“This is in order for lay people to become Catholics in the full sense of the term, that is to say… members of the Christian community, fulfilling a task of their own that is indispensable to the community, its life and balance.1

4. The necessity and importance of this formally lay apostolate, as well as formation for this apostolate of their own cannot be emphasised and insisted on enough. The experience developed over the past 50 years, the results of which can be seen, proves the value and effectiveness of this apostolate.

Those priests who, with perseverance and humility, have loyally tried it out, are unanimous in saying that becoming aware of and remaining faithful to this apostolate develops an unparalleled dynamism, conviction, fervour, and spirit of sacrifice in the religious life of lay people; it gives them a sense of pride in their Christianity and a desire to commit themselves which gives rise to the greatest efforts and hopes.

Finally, in my opinion, the formally lay apostolate of lay people remains the only positive response to materialism, liberalism and secularism, the separation of religion from real life, and from the problems most deeply felt and experienced by lay people.

Lay people themselves are deeply aware of the need for this apostolate and there is an increasing number who desire to commit themselves to this even at the cost of great sacrifices. They are also aware of the need for formation training and support inherent in this mission which is unique to them and they are concerned that they usually fail to get any response to this from the clergy responsible.

The documents

This is why I would like the documents on this subject to be revised. Instead of a formulation which seems to minimise the mission of lay people in the Church and which is merely negative – “neither priests nor religious”… “ordinary, common members” (1.0.3, p.4, paragraph 3) – on the contrary, words should be used that value the active presence and task of lay people in the Church.

For example, we could say: “Lay people are those members of the Church who are called to build the world of tomorrow as God wishes it and as Christ merited it; who, by their very lives, need to transform the world with the spirit of Christ; and who are invited to become witnesses and collaborators of Christ in this world through their life and their action.”

All this is said in the document, but scattered in various places and as if in passing, in the midst of many other considerations on “the material apostolate of lay people.” I would like this to be strongly emphasised, to have an impact both on lay people as well as all those – priests, men and women religious – who are responsible for educating lay people for their proper and irreplaceable apostolate.

Requests

1. It is here that I would like a request to be made that a Dicastery be appointed for the implementation of this apostolic conception of the mission of lay people in the Church, at all levels and in all “formally lay” aspects, i.e. family, professional, political and social, etc. This body should also be responsible for encouraging the formation for lay people, which is essential for this apostolate, both in method and organisation.

The conception and functioning of this institution needs be studied with the greatest care in order to always safeguard and develop – both in formation and apostolic action – the dynamism that ceaselessly begins from the grassroots of the Church and rises to the top under the irresistible inspiration and impulse of the Holy Spirit, who enabled Christ to say: “I thank you, Father, because you have revealed these marvels to the little and the humble, while you hide them to the wise and the skilful…” (Lk. 10, 21).

2. Finally, I would like the Commission to respond to the expectations of many lay people involved in the apostolate of the Church and are requesting the Council to solemnly confirm the value that the Church recognises in their formally lay apostolate and its desire to see them become more and more involved in this apostolate.

SOURCE

Joseph Cardijn, Note 15 – The formally and materially lay apostolate of lay people (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

READ MORE

Formal and material principles of theology (Wikipedia)

A proposed new chapter on lay apostolate

On 15 January 1962, Cardijn again wrote to Archbishop Garrone of Toulouse thanking him for his letter of 10 January and following up with further proposals.

“In an earlier note to His Eminence Cardinal Cento, I expressed the wish that the importance of the apostolate specific to the laity should be highlighted in the documents of the Commission with a special chapter, either before or after the chapter on the family apostolate,” Cardijn noted.

“I took the liberty of sending you a copy of that previous note.

“I have now attempted to draft the contents of this chapter in the note that I am now sending you – a copy is attached,” Cardijn continued, referring it seems to his Note 12 “The essential and irreplaceable apostolate of lay people.”

“I don’t know if such a chapter could find a place among the documents already proposed by the three Sub-Commissions.

“I am sending it to you, Excellency, in order to let you know how much the question haunts me. Please excuse me for daring to be so forthright.”

SOURCE

ORIGINAL FRENCH

Joseph Cardijn – Gabriel-Marie Garrone 15 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn – Gabriel-Marie Garrone 15 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Garrone backs Cardijn

On 9 January 1962, French Archbishop Gabriel-Marie Garrone of Toulouse responded to Cardijn’s 29 December 1961 letter expressing his concerns over the draft documents of the Preparatory Commission.

“You were able to see how much I share your concerns during our last meeting,” Garrone began.

“I believe that everyone agreed on the effort to be made and the direction to go,” he continued, defending the members of the commission. “Actually, we are currently faced with the problem of implementation.”

Nevertheless, he said he agreed with Cardijn’s concerns.

“I think that all your remarks are justified, and I am also quite favourable to your conclusions, in particular on p.3, regarding social action: the opening statement concerning the apostolate of the laity obviously applies to the whole whole and this needs to be explicitly marked.

“This statement is expressed quite well theologically. However, it still needs to be given that impetus to make an impact, and also to show the application of these remarks to the whole field of work.

“In my opinion, it is here that what you are asking for at p. 4, paragraph 1 and paragraph 2 needs to be said,” he said.

More needed to be done, he agreed, however.

“I understand that Mgr GLORIEUX had sought to constitute a small team,” he noted.

“But in a somewhat private manner,” he added, in a clear indication of the delicate problems that existed in the Preparatory Commission.

“We could perhaps hope that there will be a more explicit investiture for the last phase of the work which will be final,” he concluded.

“See you soon, dear Monsignor. We must trust in Providence and speak with the total frankness that is required.”

SOURCES

FRENCH ORIGINAL

Gabriel-Marie Garrone – Joseph Cardijn 09 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Gabriel-Marie Garrone – Joseph Cardijn 09 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Another letter to Cento

Less than two weeks after his previous letter, Cardijn wrote again on 10 January 1962 to PCLA president, Cardinal Cento, to insist on the importance of the lay apostolate and enclosing his proposed chapter on the issue (Note 12).

“Please excuse me, Your Eminence, for bothering you again,” Cardijn began:

“In my previous letter of 28 December and the note that accompanied it, I expressed my fear that the proper and irreplaceable apostolate of the laity in the Church would be drowned in all the apostolate common to all the faithful and that not enough attention would be given to this aspect and its importance in the documents under preparation. I believe, moreover, that this fear is shared by a certain number of members of the Commission.

“Since then, I have tried to condense all the notions relating to this apostolate specific to the laity in a special chapter. Perhaps this short statement will not fit into the plan and the texts adopted by the Commission. Your Eminence will be the judge. Would you have any problem with the Secretariat of the Commission sending or providing this note to the other members?”

SOURCE

ORIGINAL FRENCH

Joseph Cardijn – Fernando Cento 11 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn – Fernando Cento 11 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

The apostolate in temporal life

Having provided a theological explanation of the lay apostolate proper to lay people, Cardijn naturally wished to show what that meant in practice.

This he explained in an annex to his Note 12. Naturally enough, he drew on the example of the JOC.

“The experience of the last 25 years, which, through Catholic Action formation, has oriented a great number of lay people in their specific apostolate in life, in institutions and temporal milieux, shows that this presence and action in the temporal sphere is closely linked to the christianisation and evangelisation of milieux of which the majority are not reached by the Church,” he wrote. “The religious apostolate is inserted in apostolic action at the heart of secular life.”

“The experience of the YCW is realised in this fashion and has been encouraged by the recent Sovereign Pontiffs,” he noted.

The human level

The first level of this apostolate is the human level, Cardijn said:

In general the concrete apostolate starts on the human level properly speaking, i.e. young people win their comrades to attitudes which incite greater respect, more justice, more security, more dignity whether in the milieu of work, during leisure or in the field of health, preparation for the future, etc.

And that, they want it and obtain it, not just for their immediate comrades, but for all, for all those who are around them, without distinction, and for all the workers of the world and other races of different colours, other religions and ideologies.

These acts multiplied infinitely create a habitual, permanent attitude which gives birth by itself to a climate of confidence, friendship and collaboration among all; little by little, they spread a conception of life, bring out a surge in public opinion; they transform working environments, leisure and living environments; they develop new kinds of human relationships at individual, national and international level; henceforth, these are relationships based on confidence, solidarity, collaboration for the equitable and positive solution of common human problems.

Group apostolate

The next stage, according to Cardijn, develops progressively from a personal apostolate into “a group  apostolate that is more structure and organic.”

“On one hand, this gives rise to apostolic grassroots groups (in the parish, the neighbourhood, etc.) which unite people and develop into regional federations, movements and national and international movements of the apostolate,” Cardijn explained.

“On the other hand, at local as well as national and international levels, it leads to interventions in existing secular organisations and institutions, whether private, public or semi-public.”

Preparing the way for deeper action

Next Cardijn explains the linkages between these human acts and the Church’s mission:

For Christian leaders who act in secular daily life, these acts, realisations and processes are truly acts of apostolate. To achieve this, they make personal sacrifices and all kinds of renunciations which transform themselves; to achieve this, they pray and unite themselves with Christ and the Church in sacramental, liturgical and ecclesial life. In their personal life, unity is achieved between their religious life and their secular life; in their action with and on others.

Their intentions are not limited to the human and temporal level; they aim for the glory of God, the reign of Christ, the extension of the Church, the evangelisation and salvation of souls. Their presence and action, which is profoundly human, prepares the way for much deeper action: it breaks down prejudices and obstacles; it invites people to seek and recognise the truth.

Impact on others

This kind of action also has an impact on others, including non-Christians, Cardijn argues. In some cases, it even leads to the catechumenate:

For non-Christians who participate in this action or who at least witness it, it is primarily a shock and a testimony. It raises questions in them: Why are my comrades doing this? Why have they given up that? How can they do this? Why are they so much against injustice whereas we thought that religion preached resignation?

And for a certain number of non-Christians, this shock and testimony will lead to a catechumenate of which the initial discoveries are those of a religion lived out integrally in both daily and secular life. Because it is in regard to all these secular problems that friendship and confidence lead to exchanges: “Why respect, help or love others? Why work? Why found a family? What use is money? Why earn it and how to share it?” In their turn, these occasional discussions lead to making deeper and more complete contacts: visits to homes, books and magazines, collective action in the neighbourhood, participation in meetings.

Faith comes from the interior

What is important in all of the above, according to Cardijn, is a climate of openness, sympathy and friendship without any kind of pressure:

The revelation of Christ and the Church thus takes place in a climate of openness, sympathy and friendship, which is already that of lived out charity. The faith cannot be imposed through pressure, but it comes above all from the interior; it is sought, guessed at then requested, like a gift, a grace that transforms the person, family and society. It will not always and immediately result in baptism, sacramental or ecclesial life. How many examples there are of young workers who were Sauls and who have become Pauls! And this is so in every continent, every race and every form of civilisation.

The path followed, the apostolic pedagogy which are valid for non-Christians are equally valid for non-practising Christians accustomed to separating their religious practices from their daily life; or even all those who are still – alas! – so numerous and who have never received any real religious formation or only a child’s or adolescent’s formation.

The importance of the priest as a guide

All of the above depends, Cardijn insists, on the role of the priest as guide, support and counsellor.

In this apostolate – which does not separate temporal action from religious action properly speaking – the priest is always the guide, the support, indispensable counsellor for activist Christians. And little by little, it also becomes the guide of catechumens, who he leads towards their complete conversion. He is thus the soul of the transformation of individuals, and through them, of the milieux, communities, structures and the whole of society.

Thus, there will never be a lay apostolate at the level to meet the needs of the current world unless there are clergy who understand the necessity of this apostolate, who wish to make the “consecration mundi,” who understand its specific methods, its fecundity and the sacerdotal assistance which is indispensable to it.

FRENCH ORIGINAL

Joseph Cardijn, L’apostolat essentiel propre et irremplaceable de laïcs (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn, The essential, irreplaceable apostolate proper to lay people (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

The apostolate proper to lay people – again!

Having criticised the most recent set of draft documents from the PCLA, Cardijn responded on 9 January 1962 with a new document setting out his conception of “the essential and irreplaceable apostolate proper to lay people.”

All the faithful take part in the whole apostolate of the Church: hierarchical, doctrinal, sacramental, liturgical, ascetic, catechetical, missionary, etc. apostolate,” Cardijn began.

“However, in the apostolate of the Church, lay people have a specific, essential and irreplaceable mission that was given to the whole of humanity by the Creator at the very moment  of Creation: that of procreating, taking possession of the earth, using it  and developing it (Genesis I, 26-31).

The theological basis of this, Cardijn explained, was God’s creation of man in his own image and the mission and opportunity given to humanity to share in that mission:

God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild animals and all the creatures that creep along the ground.’

God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.

God blessed them, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all the living creatures that move on earth.’

God also said, ‘Look, to you I give all the seed-bearing plants everywhere on the surface of the earth, and all the trees with seed-bearing fruit; this will be your food. And to all the wild animals, all the birds of heaven and all the living creatures that creep along the ground, I give all the foliage of the plants as their food.’ And so it was. God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good. Evening came and morning came: the sixth day. (New Jerusalem Bible translation)

The work of redemption

However, given that original and actual sin had vitiated that original mission, God now gave humanity a second opportunity to share in the work of Redemption of humanity and the world:

This primordial mission of man and humanity was vitiated by original sin and by actual sins that led to ignorance, error, corruption, injustice and under-development. It lost more and more of its divine and religious meaning. And the propagation of a materialist and secularist conception of the world — with all its practical consequences — is the greatest threat to humanity and for the Church.

It is this primordial mission of man and humanity that Christ has come, not only to re-establish, but also by his Incarnation, to raise up to a more intimate participation in the work of the Redemption of the whole human race. As the Church says in each Holy Mass:

“O God, by creating human nature, you have given an admirable dignity: in redeeming it, you have restored it even more admirable than before. Grant us, by the mystery of this water united with wine, to take part in the divinity of he who deigned to share our humanity, Jesus Christ…” (Biblical Missal)

The mission proper to lay people

The specific task of lay people, then, is to rediscover and relink the mission of humankind ot to the mystery of Creation and Redemption:

The specific (proper) mission, apostolate of the lay person thus consists in rediscovering the divine and proper mission of humanity, and rejoining it to the mystery of the Creation and the Redemption. The lay person must give or re-give to the temporal, secular world its divine, religious, redemptive meaning, in and through work, science and technology, education, international action, etc. It is the whole “consecratio mundi” of which Pius XII spoke so often:

“You are Catholics, are you are in the full sense of the term, that is to say, not only as individuals professing the truths revealed by Christ and living personally in the grace of the Redemption, but as members of the Christian community and fulfilling in this community, a specific task, indispensible to its life and its balance”. (Talk to jocists, 25 August 1957, N° 19. There are many other texts of Pius XII where he proclaimed and developed the idea of the consecration of the secular world).

It is this mission in their temporal life that it is necessary to enable lay people to discover and understand. They must know and make known the divine value of the secular world in which they live;  they must live integrally their specific and primordial mission in the secular world, its milieux, its existing and future institutions. And they must spread this divine and temporal conception and this sense of their specific religious mission, among the lay people in the midst of whom they have been providentially placed. Thus, they will transform the world and they will really consecrate it to the glory of God (See Annex).

And he explained this further as follows:

“This divine mission of the lay person and the whole laity — to procreate, dominate and develop the whole of creation — today acquires an apostolic and missionary importance, not only primordial, but decisive; and this, at a world dimension,

  • because of the unexpected growth of the world population, because of the growing needs of this population, its aspirations and its new level of consciousness;
  • because of new technological, scientific, cultural and social progress, which transforms the world and humanity;
  • because of the unity and solidarity that allthese problems create between all men, all peoples, all continents;
  • because of ideologies of all kinds which spread across the world, with an increasing facility and rapidity;
  • because of the different levels of development, which make more acute the great scourges (hunger, sickness, mortality, insecurity, illiteracy, etc.) and draw on one hand international oppositions and on the other hand international institutions which battle against the great scourges.”

No separation between religious apostolate and lay apostolate

Cardijn continues on to develop his critique of the artificial division by the PCLA of its work into evangelisation, social action and charitable action.

“The Church and religion cannot stay on the sidelines of building, humanising, transforming the world. While distinct from responsible secular authorities and the technological means of work and progress, they can neither be separated or ignored,” he insists. “This separation would be deadly for humanity and the Church.”

“The essential, proper and irreplaceable apostolate of lay people, whose importance cannot be exaggerated, is inseparable from their religious apostolate properly said: doctrinal, sacramental, liturgical, etc. as moreover from their religious life properly speaking.”

And he cites Pope Pius XII 1957 speech to the JOC pilgrims to Rome:

As Pius XII told the jocists:

The YCW “works to restore in all its nobility the Christian notion of work, its dignity, its holiness. You like to consider the gestures of workers as personal acts of a son of God and a brother of Jesus Christ, through the spirit and the body, for the service of God and the human community. May the members of your movement (…) cause this conception of work to penetrate the factories, offices, professional schools. This is an apostolate that is practical and necessary to a very high degree”. (Speech, 25 August 1957, N° 16).

Indispensable formation to make the whole of lay life apostolic

And he concludes with an explanation of the need for a holistic formation process for lay people in order that the whole of their life becomes apostolic:

This apostolate, which both sanctifies lay people and builds a more human world, always more conform to the plan of God and Christ, always more at the service of temporal happiness and the eternal destiny of humanity, always more exalting of the glory of the Creator.

The whole clergy and all lay faithful must see the need to transform the whole of lay life, to understand the increasingly important specific and irreplaceable mission of lay people. They must give and receive the indispensable formation, so that the whole of lay life becomes apostolic. Religion must be incarnated in the whole of life, to make this life an apostolate which helps to transform all milieux and all the institutions of life.

“The Church today needs more than ever young workers to valiantly build, in joy and suffering, in success and failure, a world as God would want it, a fraternal society in which the suffering of the most humble will shared and lightened.” (Speech of 25 August 1957, N° 19).

To raise this consciousness and give this formation are the only means, not only of saving the faithful from false conceptions of lay life, but also of exercising an appropriate apostolate among the non-faithful — Christians and non-Christians — that they rub shoulders with every day in their milieux of life and in institutions; to collaborate with them on the temporal and lay level; to overcome prejudices and errors in order to reveal little by little, in all their dimension, religion and the Church and to obtain that the whole of creation be redeemed by Christ and sing the glory of God.

FRENCH ORIGINAL

Joseph Cardijn, L’apostolat essentiel propre et irremplaceable de laïcs (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn, The essential, irreplaceable apostolate proper to lay people (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Lay apostolate not clear enough in draft PCLA documents

On 28 December 1961, Cardijn wrote to PCLA president, Cardinal Fernando Cento, enclosing his reflections and his concerns regarding the three draft documents prepared by the Commission.

And he does not hold back in expressing his fears.

“On returning from Latin America, I found among other items on my desk the three texts: TC3, De Apostolatu Laicorum – TC1, de Actione Sociali – TC2, De Actione Caritative.

“I have reread them successively and I am taking the opportunity to now send your Eminence a brief note commenting on all of them since I do not have time to annotate each paragraph.

“May I be permitted to express my concern to your Eminence? I fear that the decisive importance of the proper and irreplaceable apostolate of the laity, their apostolate in temporal life, does not emerge sufficiently from these documents.

“The long journey that I have just made has confirmed my observation over fifty years of priesthood devoted to this apostolate, namely that the clergy in general do not see the urgency of combating materialism, secularism and social disorder that threaten the world and the Church. It seems to me that a solemn appeal – a true SOS – by the Ecumenical Council, addressed to both laity and priests is essential.

“Your Eminence will forgive me for insisting so simply. It is my conscience that prompts me to make this appeal.

I am pleased to send your Eminence my most fervent wishes for a holy and happy Year 1962!” Cardijn concluded.

The apostolate of the laity vs the apostolate of the faithful

Finally back in Brussels, Cardijn now has to catch up with his work for the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate.

On 24 December 1961, he drafted Note II, containing his reflections on three draft documents prepared by the Commission.

It was now becoming clear that Cardijn’s patience was starting to wear thin as the opening of the Council approaches and his insistent pleas for recognition of the lay apostolate of lay people continued to go unheard.

The apostolate of the laity vs the apostolate of the faithful

“The enumeration of different apostolic tasks that lay people are called to fill too easily conflates those  that they carry out in religious life properly speaking (e.g. their participation in the Holy Sacrifice, in works of charity, etc.) and those that they exercise in temporal life (in their profession, civic life, etc.),” Cardijn complains.

“This mixing creates a certain confusion with respect to basic concepts. The chapter is intended to be consecrated to the apostolate of lay people, but is in fact consecrated for the most part to the apostolate of the faithful,” he laments.

“As a result of this mixing, the document fails to adequately highlight the necessity and importance of the proper and irreplaceable apostolate of lay people in temporal life.

“This point seems to me, however, to be decisive in the world of the present and the future! The Hierarchy, clergy, religious cannot replace lay people, because it is the latter who ensure the building up of the world and must positively and Christianly resolve the problems that will decide the future of the Church: materialism, secularism, moral and social disorder, etc., which threaten the mass of the whole of humanity.

Family life and the lay apostolate

Cardijn was also particularly concerned with the section of the documents dealing with family life.

The long chapter consecrated to the family apostolate shows the importance of this. However, isn’t it necessary to say that the apostolate in and by the family and the preparation for this apostolate is inseparable from the apostolate in all aspects of temporal life which influence and will influence the family even more:

  • ensure all the resources of the family and safeguard the possibility of existence, faithfulness, education and morality;
  • Life of leisure and culture: vacations paid or not, passed with the family or separately; environments and conceptions of leisure; advertising which invades the  family (radio, television, the press);
  • civic and public life: legislation, institutions, public morality;
  • international life: displaced families, spouses and young people separated from the family; mixed families of races, different moral and religious conceptions who live and work together..

How then should the documents be redrafted?

“Is it not possible – before or after the chapter on family apostolate – to consecrate a whole chapter to the apostolate of the lay person in life, milieux, temporal institutions, chapters which would show methodically the primordial and decisive importance of this apostolate? Among other points:

  • the apostolic conception of temporal life;
  • the proper and irreplaceable character of the apostolate of lay people in this temporal life, its importance, its inseparability from religious life properly said, sacramental, liturgical, hierarchical;
  • the formation and education to be given to lay people and to priests with respect to this conception and this apostolic action in  temporal life;
  • the absolute necessity of forming young people who work outside and far from the family, uniting them and organising them in view of the apostolate at a level appropriate to the world of today and the future.

Social action vs lay apostolate

Cardijn again confronts the problem created by the artificial division of the Prep Com’s work into three subcommissions on evangelisation, social action and charitable action.

“Doesn’t it cause concern and misunderstanding to separate the presentation on social action from that on lay apostolate?” he asks pointedly. “Isn’t social action the direct or indirect lay apostolate?”

Moreover, “isn’t social action done in practice with organisations of the lay apostolate, e.g. the JOC, the LOC, the MOC, and others?” Cardijn asks, clearly concerned at the separation of social action from the work of the lay apostolate.

Charitable action

Concerning charitable action, Cardijn is clearly concerned about an “aid” mentality present in the draft documents. He insists on the need for an emphasis on social justice.

“Isn’t it necessary to pay homage to the universal preoccupation of our era, which seeks to promote and to organise the aid necessary to ensure that all people of all races and all continents have a more human and dignified life?

“Isn’t it necessary to add that this preoccupation with aid now involves  what is called ‘social and international justice‘ and which requires education as well as international institutions (Caritas, Misereor, etc.),” Cardijn asks.

Proposals

Offering his own response to his critique, Cardijn concludes with his own proposals:

“1- Couldn’t a very clear chapter be inserted in the text setting out what is the specific role of lay people in the apostolate of the Church, the tasks by which and in which it is exercised, its relationship to the apostolate of the priest, etc. (see above, page 2)? The fact of this declaration would enlighten immediately the other documents which follow.

“2-. To meet the expectations of the world today and of the whole Church, in particular those of lay people involved in the apostolate, could not the text also include a solemn appeal by the Council which would commit the whole Church — Hierarchy, priests, religious, lay people — to promote by all means the apostolate of the laity and the personal and collectie formation of all those who must become involved?

“3-. Would it not be possible to form a small team within the Commission which would coordinate the drafting of the three documents referred to in this note and which presents the apostolic action, the social action and the charitable action of lay people with a more pronounced unified character?”

SOURCE

Joseph Cardijn, Note 11 – Réflexions sur les trois textes de la Commission, 24 décembre 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn, Note 11 – Reflections on the three documents of the Commission, 24 December 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

A leaven of expanding influence

On 23 October 1961, Archbishop D’Souza of Nagpur, India wrote to the Indian YCW chaplain, Fr Rupert, who was preparing to leave for the YCW International Council in Rio de Janeiro.

“My dear Father Rupert,

“I am sorry I could not get a message across to you before you left, as I was out of station for a while. I do hope I am not late in reaching you. We have just finished two Conferences here – one of the Bishops of the Region and the other an Interdiocesan Conference of Priests, where, among other things, we discussed the question of the social uplift of our people. The Y.C.W. as is but natural figured in our discussions.

“I would have loved to be present on an occasion like this when our young Christian workers, from all over the world, have assembled together. However, I shall follow all your proceedings in spirit and in prayer. This is indeed, an unique occasion which can spell great things for the Church and I wish you to convey to Mr. Romeo Maione my heartiest congratulations. Tell him from all of us, how deeply interested we are in this Conference and also in the programme that the Y.C.W. has chalked out for itself for the spiritual welfare of the working classes. We here in India have pledged ourselves to make the Y.C.W. a leaven of expanding influence and a power for good. To this end also, our Five Year Plan will give us an opportunity to spread the Y.C.W. far and wide till it infiltrate into every industrial area where its presence is needed.

“Remember me also to all our Delegates and I am sure all of you will give a good account of yourselves. We shall be waiting to hear the results of your deliberations.

“With my heartfelt blessing and best wishes for a successful Conference and tour.

Yours devotedly in Christ,

(+ Eugene D’Souza)

Archbishop of Nagpur.

Director of the Section for the Lay Apostolate”

C.B.C.I.

SOURCE

Archives JOCI 2.10.7.38-2

The Layman and the Council… Does the Layman ‘Belong’?

Romeo Maione, a Canadian with long experience in the lay apostolate is currently international president of the Young Christian Workers. He sends this article from Belgium. He recently visited Rome for meetings in connection with the anniversary of the social encyclicals of Leo XIII and Pius XI. He will return to Canada at the end of this year to become assistant to the director of the Social Action Department of the Canadian Catholic Conference.

By ROMEO MAIONE

A few years ago, a small group of highly regarded theologians met to discuss the role of the layman in the Church. The principal result of their discussion nicely illustrates a central problem in the life of the Church today. For nothing like a consensus on the role of the layman came out of the meeting. The theologians could agree only that the layman is neither priest nor Religious. Around the world. hopes are running high that the Fathers of the forthcoming Ecumenical Council will have something positive to say about the role of the layman. And there is good reason to believe that these hopes are well-founded. In response to the calls of modern popes, laymen have begun to shoulder more and more responsibility for action. Indeed, the question is no longer whether laymen can bear the responsibility of carrying the Christian message into everyday life, but how far to go.

Lay apostles sincerely attempting to “restore all things in Christ” according to the mandate of Pope St. Pius X are asking for clarification of the limits of their responsibility and the extent of their autonomy. In the absence of a consensus on the necessary distinctions, too-easy solutions have often been provided. Those who have advanced near temporal-spiritual distinctions, and would limit the involvement of the Church in our time to the purely spiritual level, have learned that circumstances demand something more. Many questions are heard, but perhaps the most familiar and the most critical could be put this way; “How far can the lay apostolate go into the temporal order without committing the Church to detailed, debatable, political or economic programs?”

The failure to resolve this question led to the division of the vast and well-organized family movement in France in 1950. One element wanted to plunge into the political field to solve the pressing housing problems, while others insisted the movement remain purely educational. The movement finally split, and the French hierarchy set up a new apostolate to insure live spiritual development of the two movements. Other examples of how pressing this particular question can be have occurred in Australia, Italy and Spain. In Australia, a lay apostolate organization called simply “the Movement” did a very effective job of clearing the communists out of the trade unions, then tried to clean up the small minority of communists in the Labour Party The Labour Party asked the Movement to stop its activities. It didn’t. The Labour Party condemned the Movement and, in time, the Movement split the Labour Party. In Italy, the ACLI (Associazione Christiano Laboratore Italiano), one of the major Italian lay worker movements, is facing a crisis because many of its leaders are also members of parliament. The Church has called on the organization to get out of politics. An ACLI leader can no longer take a responsible job in the political field. The Temporal-spiritual division, it appears, is better made in books than in life. The average worker neither has the theological background nor the time to treat frontiers of action as textbook exercises.

He knows that as a lay apostle. he is called to be a good politician. As the leader of an organized movement, it is his job to develop an apostolic spirit among members, encouraging them to take positions on moral issues in political and economic life, the temporal order. 

At least in Europe, the question of the day is, how far can an apostolic movement go into the temporal order? It cannot escape the attention of the Council. 

In Europe, of course, the rural society in which the Church was actively present and very much involved is gradually giving way to a new and industrialized Europe. This evolution is much slower than in the U. S. In America, the “new ideas” about the lay apostolate came to a new country. In Europe, they germinated and grew in a well established order. Today, the Church in Europe is trying to free itself from the “old order” so that it can embrace and bring the good news to the developing new way of life. In an effort not to be identified with the old ways, some advocate that the Church completely remove itself from the temporal order. 

This, of course, would reverse the whole movement of the lay apostolate to date. From a state of suspended animation, the laity has now been awakened, and responding to the Popes, is attempting to meet some of the serious crises of our age. And inevitably, the spiritual and temporal interests intersect. 

It would be difficult to pinpoint the moment in modern history when the laity was awakened. The lay apostolate itself is, of course, not a new thing in the Church. Pius XII pointed this out to exponents of the lay apostolate attending the First World Congress of the Lay Apostolate in Rome in 1950. The apostles used the Roman roads, and laymen in those times did an effective job of spreading the good news of the Gospels everywhere. 

Pius XII repeated the exhortation of Pius XI in asking laymen to exercise an active apostolate in the Church. The words of both these modern Popes gave new life to many traditional lay organizations, and at the same time gave birth to new lay movements like the Young Christian Workers, Young Christian Farmers, the Young Christian Students, the Christian Family Movement, and a host of others. 

This revival of lay activity was also marked by the creation of international coordinating bodies, based in Rome, designed to implement the work of lay movements. The Conference of Catholic International Organizations, whose main office is in Fribourg, Switzerland, and the Permanent Committee for the Organization of the Lay Apostolate Congresses, whose offices are in Rome, are both working to develop the lay apostolate internationally.

The Permanent Committee for the Organization of the Lay Apostolate, which has already organized two international conferences on the lay apostolate in Rome, is planning a third to be held just after the Ecumenical Council. 

Although preparations for the Council and the work of its various commissions are shrouded in silence, it is becoming clearer that one of the central themes of the Council will be the question of the lay apostolate. One of the commissions of the Council will address itself exclusively to the problems of the lay apostolate. (It is interesting to note that this commission is the only one which does not depend directly on any of the congregations making up the Curia.) 

The setting up of this commission of the lay apostolate was greeted with great joy by laymen active In the affairs of the Church, although some were less than joyful to find that no laymen are present on any of the commissions, particularly the lay apostolate commissions. 

At a recent international meeting a lay leader was overheard to say, jokingly, “Well, it was the men who discussed the role of women in society and finally granted them the right to vote; it is now the turn of the clergy to release the potential energies of the layman.”)

Many lay leaders, particularly in Holland and Austria, have been openly discussing the absence of laymen in the preparatory work of the Council —and some high Church authorities have promised to bring the matter up in Rome. 

While one may regret the absence of experienced laymen in the preparatory work, one can rejoice at the impressive array of internationally-known clerics with first hand experience of the lay apostolate who make up the Commission which will deal specifically with lay matters. 

Fernando Cardinal Cento, the president of the Lay Apostolate Commission, was once a nuncio in Belgium and has first hand knowledge of the lay movements, especially the worker movements. Monsignor Achille Glorieux, secretary of the commission, was once a Young Christian Workers chaplain in France, and is now chaplain of the Permanent Committee for the Organization of Lay Apostolate Congresses. Monsignor Joseph Cardijn, international chaplain and founder of the Young Christian Workers, and Bishop E. Larrain of Chile, vice president of CELAM, the Latin American Council of Bishops, are two others on the commission.

(It was Monsignor Cardijn, incidentally, who was the first to make the see-judge-act method which Pope John recommends in Mater et Magistra as a central part of the modern lay movement.) 

The general lines of the commission study are apparent; the role of the layman in the Church and the relations between the lay apostolate organizations and the hierarchy, the problem of the limit and extent of the autonomy of the lay apostolate in the temporal order, all these will certainly be on the agenda. 

Many well-informed laymen seem to be reasonably sure that the Fathers of the Council will set up a Congregation for the Laity which will play an active part in the Curia. In any event, the question of the laity in the Church is bound to be taken up by several of the Commissions. 

The Commission on Theological Studies will discuss the doctrinal position of the laity. The Liturgical Commission will discuss the participation of the laity in the liturgy. The Seminaries Commission will approach the problem under the heading of the necessary formation of priests who will be formers of lay apostles. The Missions Commission will surely study the question of the laity when it discusses the penury of the clergy in mission lands, and in a more particular way, Latin America. This will lead to a discussion on the pastoral role of the layman in mission countries. 

Finally, the commission set up to deal with the unity of the Churches will be discussing the laity because of the increasing contacts between Catholics and non-Catholics in everyday life. So the laity will be very much present in the Council, sharpening the awareness expressed by Bishop de Smet of Bruges in a pastoral written in preparation for the Ecumenical Council. 

“Jesus continues His priesthood in the Christian community as a whole,” the Bishop wrote. “It is in it and by it that He offers sacrifice to the Father. It is by it and in it that He spreads His gospel. It is by it and in it that He will realize the consecration of the world. It is false to think that Catholic doctrine reduces the faithful to a passive state. It is inexact to pretend that they are but a flock of sheep, docile and forcibly resigned to being led by their pastors. If you have understood correctly. you will know that the Church is a cooperation of all the baptized who —together— form the royal priesthood of Jesus Christ.”

SOURCE

Romeo Maione, The Layman and the Council… Does the Layman ‘Belong’?, Pittsburgh Catholic, Thursday August 31, 1961 (Catholic News Archive)

Cardijn seeks support from Mgr Emiliano Guano

On 9 August 1961, Cardijn wrote to Mgr Emiliano Guano, a former chaplain to the International Movement of Catholic Students, at the national secretariat of the Italian Catholic Action movement seeking his support to set up a small team to work on some new proposals for the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate.

He is clearly concerned that his efforts are not cutting through.

He wrote:

May I disturb you by communicating my concerns to you?” Cardijn began. “I had the impression that you also shared these concerns during the last session of our Conciliar Commission. And since we had so little time to exchange our impressions, please forgive me for disturbing you by sending you these few notes.

You will therefore find attached:

1 – A copy of the letter that I have just sent to Monsignor Glorieux regarding proposals 51 and 52 and on the subject of my desire to insist on the importance of the apostolate of lay people in the problems specific to lay life;

23 – Under separate cover, the three notes that I had prepared previously and sent to Monsignor Glorieux concerning the program of our Commission; I don’t know which of these notes you received.

As I have written to Monsignor Glorieux, until the end of November I will be entirely occupied with the International Council of the YCW in Rio de Janeiro and its preparation. But after that date I will be freer and will be able to make the time needed to work with a small team on the finalisation of some proposals concerning the apostolate of the laity, which seem to me essential at the present time.

I apologise for writing to you so simply. Do not see any pretension in it but simply a need for frankness and trust and a desire to serve the Church as best as I can. Time is advancing, the Council is approaching and I would blame myself for not having fulfilled the mandate that the Holy See deigned to entrust to me if I did not try to express all my thoughts, submitting them very humbly to the decisions of the Holy See. Authority.

We may have the opportunity to discuss all of this again at the next session. It is from there that I will leave for Rio…

SOURCE

ORIGINAL FRENCH

Joseph Cardijn – Emiliano Guano 09 08 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn – Emiliano Guano 09 08 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Social and economic defence of young workers

On 7 August 1961, Cardijn wrote to Mgr Glorieux expanding on his proposal for action on the issue of young domestic workers.

“Prior to receiving your letter, I had written the attached short note on Proposals 50 and 51, on the subject of the family,” Cardijn wrote. “The secretariat will decide whether it should still be taken into account.”

“Note Ri 55 seems to address my concerns about the plight of domestic workers, especially younger ones. We should perhaps add the social and economic defence of these young employees. An organisation which brings together and helps young domestic workers, in which they themselves are trained to train and support each other, seems to me very advisable. The JOCF in Chile and Brazil have taken the initiative to launch such an organisation, within the JOC movement itself, with excellent results.”

Moving on, he raised questions – indeed perhaps frustration – about the method of work being followed by the Preparator Commission.

“At the point the work of the Commission has arrived at, would it not be useful to provide its members a copy of all the proposals adopted so far? This would help us to gain an overview of these Proposals in order to be able to evaluate and add to them.”

And he again returned to his primordial concern for the “apostolate of the laity.”

“Personally, I am very concerned with the apostolate of the laity – individual, but above all organised – in their lay life, in their lay environment, at the heart of the problems and institutions that influence them; I am referring to the proper and irreplaceable apostolate that the laity must exercise personally or through their organisations with respect to secular problems.

“Can we not highlight even more the importance and the necessity of this and underline the formation which the laity need, as well as the indispensable collaboration with the Hierarchy, as much for their formation as for their action?” he asked.

And it is an issue that he sees as important in the ecumenical or even inter-religious context as well.

“The problem seems so important to me for the years to come! Catholics and non-Catholics alike expect a clear and definite declaration from the Council on such a fundamental point. This statement needs to make an impact, both inside and outside the Church.

“I apologise for returing to this point so often. I hope that after the International Council of the YCW in Rio (November 1 to 23), I will find more time to put on paper a few moer concrete observations concerning the distinctions to be made regarding the direct and indirect apostolate as well as, apostolic, social and charitable action, collaboration between chaplain and lay leader, relations between the Hierarchy and the laity.

“I will be in Rome from 23 to 28 October and will leave from there directly to Rio de Janeiro. Do not forget us in your prayers!” Cardijn concluded.

SOURCE

FRENCH ORIGINAL

Joseph Cardijn – Achille Glorieux 07 08 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn – Achille Glorieux 07 08 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Thoughts of a group of YCW leaders and chaplains

With the next meeting of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate looming the JOC Internationale published an 8,000 word paper in July 1961 in three languages setting out its Vatican II proposals under the title “Thoughts of a group of YCW leaders and chaplains of North and South America, Asia, Africa and Europe submitted to the Preparatory Commission of the 2nd Vatican Council.”

Although many of Cardijn’s ideas are present, stylistically the document clearly reflects the input of those who participated in the reflection process.

In its introduction, the document highlights three critical aspects of concern:

a) The sphere of the lay apostolate

b) Long-term consequences of the Council’s decisions both for Christians and non-Christians

c) A desire for the Church to become “more effectively present in the working class world” in order to “reclaim the masses” who knowingly or unknowingly await “their salvation through its message.

It then sets outs its reflections and proposals in three chapters of the document that follow a see-judge-act format:

Chapter1: The process of industrialisation… The gap between young workers and the Church

“The YCW never works from a definition or a system,” Chapter 1 begins, “but always – and this can be seen from this report – from facts gathered from the ordinary life of hundreds of young working men and women.”

“The majority of young working people, through the conditions in which they live and work, drift further and further away from the Church,” it continues. “To all intents and purposes, they are beyond her reach.”

Thus, despite the fact that the industrial revolution has brought “positive and beneficial elements of great value,” it is also “causing wholesale destruction.” Not only is this impacting Christianity, but “in North Africa it is destroying Islam; in Central Africa, the animist religions; in Asia, Hinduism and Buddhism.”

It characterises the impact of working life as follows:

Working life today, with its modern processes demanding a progressively more advanced technique, its frantic desire for production, its small regard for morality in business, kills the human dignity of the worker – and ’a fortiori’ that of the young worker. But the greater part of his life is spent at work; this is the milieu which has the predominant influence on him.

Again modern life splits the person up into more and more watertight compartments; life at work is a completely self-contained unit: the time spent in travelling, is not in harmony with this time at work, it is spent in the company of another group of people, with different outlook: leisure time bears no relation to the first two activities, on the contrary it serves as a means of escape from the monotony of work; and so family and social life completely lose their link with work. This splitting up and dissection of life depersonalises the young worker: he is no longer able to form an integrated picture of life or to think out his philosophy of life as that of a being who has a dignity all his own; and that, in the final analysis, the true purpose of work, travel, leisure time and family atmosphere should be to serve the dignity of man.

The outcome of all this is “depersonalisation,” “dehumanisation” and ultimately “dechristianisation.” Moreover, such a civilisation “leads the worker to a materialism which in bringing comfort, becomes by that fact the true ‘opium of the people’.” Thus not only is the world confronted by “Marxist Communism” but also by “practical materialism.”

As a result, “more and more the worker is the victim of the powers which operate in industrial society; he goes further and further into a frightening emptiness where no interior motive whatsoever is present to make him think of higher realities.”

All this raises several questions for the Church, which the document outlines as follows:

In these circumstances, is it not up to the Church to go more deeply into certain aspects of her social teaching? Should she not find ways of helping young Christian leaders to work out coherent economic systems and to perfect effective methods? Above all, has not the Church the sacred obligation in every part of this new world to give substance to a deep, strong life and a. faith which can be the Christian driving force of the whole?

Chapter 2: The faith that claims all life… The apostolate and the realities of life… The organisation of the Church

The document begins to seek an answer to these questions in Chapter 2:

The evolution of the modern world, which has now passed into a scientific age, raises for most workers the problem of their allegiance to Christianity. By this very fact, the Church is faced with the problem of the method to be used in persuading young Christian workers to commit themselves to their faith. The way he is guided, instructed and involved in the Christian life must be revised, because as it stands, it is no longer adequate to the mentality and the spiritual needs of the young worker today.

Criticising traditional approaches, it notes that:

The catechism lays great stress on the bare facts of Theology and little indeed on the bearing which the mysteries of the Faith have on the everyday life of the Christian who must be transformed in his resolution to follow Christ by these mysteries. Instruction is given, but it does not easily produce this true faith; the deep commitment of the whole person and the witness of a good life.

And it outlines the Jocist response:

By using its teaching methods in both the secular and religious spheres, the YCW movement does adapt its catechesis to the mentality of the young worker; he is on the look-out for a dynamic ideal which he can live up to by commitment to a person and to solid truths. The YCW lays before him a choice and a loyalty involving his whole being and life. By starting from this commitment (which is both a conscious act of the will and a way of life) it instills a thirst for a doctrine which throws more and more light on perseverance and progress in the act of commitment. At the time when a young worker is about to be baptised or is about to make his First Communion, the YCW does not ask itself: “Has he understood? Is he quite clear about it?” Instead, it asks him: “What steps do you intend to take in order to be a true Christian? Have you decided to change your way of life?” The first stage is always the decision, an initial transformation of the individual’s way of life, attachment to Christ and service to others. Then gradually, further progress is achieved, further demands are made and more abstract truths taught.

What it amounts to is a kind of apprenticeship system of the Christian life for the masses. It begins with a simple act of faith, but leads on to a total commitment.

The key point in this context is to begin with “everyday life and experience,” which is the starting point for kindling “the act of faith in the young worker’s soul.”

“Too often, as far as the priest is concerned,” the document warns, “the study of the life of the people is only an academic matter – like the research undertaken for a thesis – when it ought to be the manifestation of a lasting desire to prepare the way for God’s life which has to take root in soil that is ever changing and always new.”

Thus, “the young worker must, above all, acquire the basic insight into the connection that exists between the gospel – what he hears preached every Sunday from the pulpit – and his daily life.”

“For until he does, he does not know how to live the Christian life,” the document warns. Moreover, “this lack of relevance to everyday life can be seen in practice in many circumstances of the life of the Christian community,” it explains offering several examples:

– The clergy do not always see that the Apostolate is for the layman in day-to-day life; this is his essential mission: far greater importance is laid on what he does, or ought to do, in the service of the parish, helping out with Church services and activities, etc,

– On Sunday, the parish priest gets his parishioners to pray together and teaches them truths, only rarely does he ask them to do something which involves their whole lives. In some countries, the Catholic schools are more preoccupied with ensuring victory (over state schools) in sporting activities, than with training lay apostles who are to go out to lead Christian lives.

– In rural areas (in Asia, for example) many Catholic parents only allow their daughters-out in the evenings to work in the support of the Church, but not to act as lay apostles to some other girl, or in the midst of a family or some other meeting.

On the basis of this experience, “we feel justified in asking that the Council should insist on the importance of the problems of the incarnation which are the gateway to faith and the ground in which it develops,” the document continues.

These problems also raise further questions about the Church’s organisation:

Faced with the world of today, which is changing at a dizzy pace, should not the Church rethink her organisation? This should be done at any rate, in the areas where it is becoming obsolete, because it was devised to evangelise a static world. Even in the village, the parish church is no longer the focus of the activity of the inhabitants, not even of the Christians. A new civilisation has completely shifted the centres of influence and poles of attraction.

Chapter 2 thus suggests several responses including:

More and more the accent will have to be put on an effort to create Christian communities which are completely integrated into society. These should be firmly anchored in the mental background of their members and given their form within the daily round of profane life. This is necessary precisely because these communities must be able to Christianise all the potentialities of the varied environment of which they form part, by reason of the very presence of lay Christians there. If the parish does not change in the face of present-day phenomena of urbanisation and culture, etc., the inner dichotomy which the Christian experiences between his life and religion will be increasingly accentuated.

Chapter 3: Doctrine of work… The apostolate of the working world and young workers

In its response to the above issues, Chapter 3 proposes that the Council “must also, we feel, invite Christians to live and to be active in the world of labour.”

Moreover, “it should recommend them to instil a Christian soul into these organisations: the motive force which urges them to act effectively in this field, and thus give their apostolic witness its true dimension of justice, must be love.”

It continues:

Further, for our part, we must make every effort to see that working conditions themselves correspond to the human dignity of the worker, which we hope to see restored to its full value.

The value of work, the dignity of the worker, the effort in productivity, all ought to be put into a view of creation in which man and his work respond to the divine plan in a lasting collaboration. This presupposes an education for the workers which will embody the doctrine in concrete situations

Chapter 2 also emphasises the need for more and better cooperation between hierarchy and laity:

In all humility and loyal obedience, we wish to stress the importance we attach to frank relations being established between the Church’s Hierarchy and the laity responsible for the apostolate in the world of work

In this context, it offers the example of Bishop Chappoulie of Angers, France, who “each month receives the leaders of the YCW and discusses with them the problems they meet with in the diocese.”

It laments that “too often, the laity are still condemned, at different levels of Church life, to a state of inactivity.” Pointing to possible solutions, it highlights the need for more and better forms of specialisation:

Cannot the Council under new forms insist on what Pius XI has already recommended: “the immediate apostles of the workers will be the workers”? This specialisation of the apostolate is not only valid for the particular needs of industrial society, but for all the most fundamental problems of our time. It is a question of wanting an apostolate and apostolic organisations which specialise less on the foundation of fixed social classes, but rather on the basis and in the terms of the continually more specialised social milieux of the modern world.

Finally, it emphasises the need to stir up an increasing number of priestly vocations from the vocation as well as for a greater focus on Catholic social teaching.

CONCLUSION

In a concluding section, the YCW leaders and chaplains formulates a series of concrete proposals for the Council:

1. The apostolic role of the laity in the mission of the Church, its own irreplaceable task of witness and leaven at the heart of profane realities and the positive role which it has in the construction of the Church itself, should be affirmed and specified.

2. The imperative and urgent necessity of the apostolate of the workers in the world today should be underlined, as much in the countries in the process of development as in countries technically highly developed; and most particularly the apostolate of the young workers, which stands at the heart of the Christian transformation of the working world.

3. The solemn affirmation of Pope Pius XI in the encyclical “Quadragesimo Anno” should be recalled, declaring that ’”the first and immediate apostles of the workers will be the workers”: the responsibilities of those to whom the Church confides this mission should be specified at the same time as its basic requirements.

4. An appeal should be made to priests in all countries to offer their help as priests to the laity who engage in the apostolate of the worker. They should be ready to support them and help to form their personalities in the way which such important apostolic responsibilities require.

5. Finally, an institution should be created within the government of of the Church to study and take charge of the question of the lay apostolate in the world; this should not only function from the juridical point of view, but from the vital and dynamic aspect of the promotion of a true laity, which can make the message of the Gospel incarnate among the realities of the life in the world today.

SOURCE

JOC Internationale, Thoughts of a group of YCW leaders and chaplains of North and South America, Asia, Africa and Europe submitted to the Preparatory Commission of the 2nd Vatican Council, July 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Animation of the apostolate

Note 8

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.

SOURCES

Original French

Joseph Cardijn, Note 8 – Refléxions sur les Notes de la Commission (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, Note 8 – Reflections on the Notes of the Commission (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Note 4 from Lomé, Togo

Note 4

It may be Christmas but Cardijn has not stopped working. In Lomé, Togo for a Pan-African Leaders Training session organised by the JOC Internationale, he completes Note 4 written at the specific request of the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate on the theme “Priests and lay people in the apostolate.”

It totals 3500 words. Together with Note 1, 3800 words, Note 2, 845, Note 3, 5200, it means Cardijn has written over 13,000 words for the Commission in just under two months – all the while maintaining his already punishing travel and workload – and at the age of 78.

Note 4 begins with a preamble in which Cardijn again insists on placing the apostolate of priests and lay people in the context of the situation of the world and the need to build the “Kingdom or Reign of God.”

“The apostolate is the essential mission of the Church and of all the faithful in the Church; and through the Church, the whole of humanity,” he began. “This fact demands more and more study, attention and vigilance, because of all the problems that the apostolate needs to helps solve both humanly and in a Christian manner, and the solution of which will largely determine the salvation of humanity, the restoration of the Kingdom of God and its Son of Love.”

“These problems have now reached a previously unknown depth, extent, and rate of increase.

“Demographic, scientific, technical, economic, social, cultural, political, international problems: All these issues involve multiple aspects and provoke a variety of human, moral and religious responses; all these issues underlie all the various tensions between developed peoples and underdeveloped peoples, between races, between colonising countries and colonised countries, between social classes; all these issues are subject to the pressure of opposing ideological aspirations and propaganda, in a world that is increasingly unified and inseparable.

“All of these problems have an essential human, moral and religious aspect that determines the value of their solution. Depending on whether these essential aspects are respected or not, solutions will be effective or ineffective for the authentic progress of humanity and therefore for the establishment of the Reign of God and of Christ in the world which is being built.

“All these problems of life and organisation of the world are the domain of the laity; they fall into the areas of lay institutions and responsibility. It is lay people who need to provide human and Christian solutions which alone will be able to establish the Reign of God and peace among men.

“This is why lay people who are responsible for seeking and implementing this solution need to have an apostolic and missionary conception of their life and their mission in the world. This is the primordial role of the lay apostolate, whether it is organised or carried out on an individual basis.

“As a result of this, the apostolate of the laity is becoming increasingly important. This is now impossible unless lay people receive training and animation that is adequate for this purpose. This training and animation can only result from collaboration with priests who are ordained and consecrated for this purpose: this formation and this animation needs to transform the life and mission of the laity into an apostolic life and mission, which is inseparable from the priestly apostolate. The whole of the apostolate is an indissoluble whole.

“It is this vision of the importance and the worldwide necessity of the apostolate, in particular of the lay apostolate, which inspires:

  • the following reflections on “Priests and lay people in the apostolate”;
  • the proposal of formulas to be inserted into the Acts of the Council,” Cardijn argues.

Unity and collaboration between priests and lay people

Moving on to characterise this apostolate, he insists from the outset that there is only “one single apostolate” shared between priests and lay people.

“1. There is only one apostolate, the source and purpose of which are common to all who are called to it and who exercise it. But the exercise and applications of this apostolate are diverse – albeit inseparable – depending on the roles of those who are called and consecrated with a view to the common goal.

“2. There is only one divine Apostle, sent by the Father: Christ, Jesus, God-Man, who calls and sends all the other apostles as his Father sent him:

a) to restore the Kingdom of God, on earth as in heaven, in time as in eternity;

b) to call and consecrate all his collaborators, at all times and among all peoples, for the roles and services required for the restoration of this Kingdom (the Church: mystical body of Christ).

“3. The establishment and restoration of God needs to reach people first, each person in particular and all people together as well as all of their religious needs; these also need to reach and modify temporal structures themselves so that they are not an obstacle but on the contrary a support for the life of this Kingdom,” Cardijn explains.

Based on baptism and confirmation, the apostolate of lay people “does not remain confined within the Church.” Indeed, it extends not only to other Christians but non-Christians as well, Cardijn argues.

“It becomes increasingly missionary, extending to non-members of the Church, whether Christians or non-Christians; by collaborating with them, Christians will assist them to rediscover and realise the human and divine mission for which they were created by God and redeemed by Christ.

Nor does he accept a division of labour that would see priests as exclusively responsible for the spiritual domain while lay people retain responsiblity for the secular world.

“The apostolate of lay people is not limited to the transformation of minds and hearts,” Crdijn writes, “but tends to the transformation of secular environments and institutions which, from the local level to the international level, need to enable people, families and societies to create a social human order which which will promote the development of the human race and the universal restoration of the Reign of God: ‘Instaurare omnia in Christo’.”

Distinct but inseparable roles

While priests and lay people have distinct roles, he argues, these roles are nevertheless inseparable.

“Without the priestly apostolate there is no lay apostolate, no apostolic transformation of the life of lay people,” Cardijn says. “Without the apostolate of the laity, the apostolate is powerless for the human and Christian transformation of the world.

“Union and collaboration between priests and lay people is therefore essential to the unity of the Church and of her mission, to the development of the whole apostolate and in particular of the lay apostolate.

“This collaboration is essential, whatever the immediate objective of the lay apostolate:

a) ecclesial objective: catechesis, liturgy, sacraments – parish, diocesan or supra-diocesan life – etc.

b) temporal, secular objective: Properly lay life in all its aspects, in which they must discover and realise its divine, apostolic and missionary value (family, work, leisure, economic security, cooperation in the city, national and international relations, etc. .)

“Regarding the first objective, it can be said that lay people are collaborators in the priestly apostolate.

“Regarding the second, priests are the sacerdotal collaborators in the apostolate of lay people. They have an eminently priestly role there: not only do they represent the Hierarchy and provide official approval or mandate, but above all they form, help, support and advise the laity in taking up their own responsibility, in all aspects and dimensions of their work and apostolate.

SOURCES

Original French

Joseph Cardijn, Note 4 – Prêtres et laïcs dans l’apostolat (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, Note 4 – Priests and lay people in the apostolate (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library

Two essential, primordial and inseparable aspects

Note 2

Having responded to the proposed plan of work of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate in Note 3 “Reflections and suggestions”, Cardijn now drafts another document, Note 2, entitled “The apostolate of lay people.” Freed from his shackles, he summarises in a single elegant page his own vision not only for the Commission but for the Council as a whole.

He begins:

“The apostolate of lay people has two essential, primordial and inseparable aspects:

1. Its relationship with God, Christ and the Church; with the plan of God in the work of Creation and Redemption.

2. Its relationship with the fundamental problems of man and the world, with their influences and their depth, in their total dimension.”

“In the texts of the Ecumenical Council on the apostolate of lay people,” Cardijn asks, can one not bring out these two aspects: the divine, Christian, ecclesial, and at the same time the fundamental link with the problems of the world and their solution.”

Simply put, Cardijn is proposing that the Council organising its work around two poles: God, Christ and the Church on one hand and humankind and the world on the other.

He goes on to detail these two poles and the indissoluble link between them in terms that can scarcely be summarised or improved upon:

I. RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, CHRIST AND THE CHURCH

God, Creator and end of the world and of humanity, has given to each person and to the whole of humanity a terrestrial and eternal mission and intervenes in history to ensure the realisation of this mission (citations from Genesis and other texts of the Old Testament).

Christ, Eternal Son of the Father, became incarnate to repair original sin; it is a matter of man and humanity to raise them up and assist them to accomplish their terrestrial mission and achieve their eternal destiny (citations from the Old and New Testaments).

The Church, founded by Christ is animated with his Spirit; it is extension of him and his Mystical Body, visibly and invisibly helps, guides and assists bought back humanity in view of the achievement of its divine and human mission until the end of time (Old and New Testament, Tradition and History of the Church).

II. RELATIONSHIP WITH PROBLEMS OF MAN AND THE WORLD

At this moment of history that is witnessing the transformation of the world in view of its humanisation, the apostolate of lay people is more important, necessary, irreplaceable and urgent than ever for the Christian solution of worldly problems.

  • Demographic problems, international solidarity and mutual aid in every field (material and spiritual, economic and social, cultural, human and religious;
  • problems of work and its organisation, technology, advertising and leisure that must serve to raise humanity and not to enslave it;
  • problem of education in general and above adult education: for families, social, national and international life; world institutions, ideologies and religions.

III. INDISSOLUBLE LINK BETWEEN THE TWO ASPECTS

One cannot insist enough on the indissoluble link that makes these complementary aspects of the apostolate of lay people an inseparable reality.

The link, the unity between the two aspects and the following consequences:

a) On one hand:

  • the necessity and the importance of the apostolate of lay people for the accomplishment of the divine plan and for the positive and human solution of the most decisive problems of the present time;
  • the respect, dignity, responsibility that flow from it, for the most humble as well as for the greatest of men, of whatever race and whatever colour they may be;
  • the necessity of a consciousness of all the indispensable conditions for this apostolate, conditions that must be adequately safeguarded (linkage to God, Christ and the Church, recourse to sacramental sources, etc.)

b) On the other hand:

  • the necessity of formation for the apostolate with competence from a double point of view (a) knowledge of God and his plan (b) knowledge of man and the world today.

All the other consequences of action, adaptation, specialisation and organisation of the apostolate of lay people flow from this double aspect and from the global dimension of the problems. Among others are the following:

1. the character simultaneously social, cultural and representative of apostolic organisations from the local to the international level

2. the indissoluble link between formation, action and organisation in view of the apostolate;

3. the specialisation and coordination necessary for the effectiveness both of their action and their representation;

4. the participation of Christians in the battle against the great human scourges: hunger, sickness, social insecurity, illiteracy.

The diverse consequences, far from being the result of an arbitrary will, are increasingly demanded by the complexity of the present world and the apostolic task that each Christian must fulfil.”

A proposed program for the Council

This is in effect Cardijn’s proposed plan of work not just for the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate but for the whole Council itself.

“The whole world expects much of the Ecumenical Council in every field and for every problem.

“It would be a bitter disappointment if these various fields and problems were not clearly mentioned and targeted by the Council, particularly those that concern the apostolate of lay people.

“On the other hand it could be an opportunity to provoke a truly salutary shock to world opinion if these problems were mentioned. A call for an effective solution, launched by the most representative assembly of the Universal Church, would trigger an awakening of influence with incalculable repercussions.

“Today, young people in general – and young workers in particular as well the vast throng of workers; the under-developed continents as well as the most sprawling cities; the most advanced peoples as well as the most dynamic groups representing science and ideologies, are on alert for and looking out for a sincere and profound solution.

“May the Ecumenical Council bring its Light and Hope to those who have such a great need for it!

Jos. CARDIJN

16 December 1960.”

SOURCES

Original French

Joseph Cardijn, L’apostolat des laïcs (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, The apostolate of lay people (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Two initial realities: Church and life

Réflexions et suggestions

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.

SOURCES

French Original

Joseph Cardijn, Réflexions et suggestions (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, Reflections and suggestions (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

The PCLA starts work

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.

These were:

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.)

III. Associations:

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.

A stark contrast

Just nine years earlier in October 1951, he had opened the First World Congress on Lay Apostolate with his landmark keynote speech “The world today and the apostolate of the laity.”

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.

SOURCES

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.

Joseph Cardijn, The Three Truths (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Joseph Cardijn, “The world today and the apostolate of the laity,” World Congress on Lay Apostolate, October 1951 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Note 1 – The lay apostolate

Note 1 - L'apostolat des laïcs

With the first plenary meeting of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate just over two weeks away, Cardijn has finalised an 18-page typed and roneoed note entitled “L’apostolat des laïcs” (The Apostolate of Lay People).

While there is no indication of the number of copies printed, no doubt he prepared enough for distribution to the members and consultants of the PCLA as well as for his other contacts in Rome and elsewhere.

Cardijn opens by summarising the document, which is organised into five chapters that follow the form of his see-judge-act method.

See: Chapter I (naturally!) thus opens with an overview of “the essential problems of lay life,” ranging from personal, physical, family, community and social level to cultural, professional, civic and political at national and international levels.

As illustrations of the issues, Cardijn highlights population growth, rapid technological change, the break down of traditional lifestyles as well as the growing power of government, non-government and international institutions.

Judge: He divides Chapter II into three parts, setting out his own vision of the required response by the Church:

a) The apostolic and missionary dimensions of these problems and their solution;

b) the indispensable formation required to solve them;

c) the role of the Church in providing that formation and working towards solutions.

Act: Cardijn final three chapters set out Cardijn’s conception of the action required by the Church:

a) Catholic Action (Chapter III), which Cardijn characterises as both a “participation” in the formational aspect of the Hierarchy’s role “forming the faithful to share the apostolic mission of the Church in their own life and in the lay world” but also involving “the responsibility of lay people both in the direction and in the action and organisation of the apostolic movements that have received a mandate” from the Church.

b) Pious, charitable and social organisations in the Church (Chapter IV), which Cardijn views as working alongside and complementing the work of the Catholic Action movements with their focus on formation.

c) Formation of priests and religious men and women (Chapter V) to take on the task of “the formation of lay people for the apostolate.”

Finally, Cardijn adds two annexes that call for

a) the creation of a sub-commission and working groups comprising lay people and

b) proposing a post-conciliar “Roman Congregation or Dicastery for the Apostolate of Lay People,” which would continue and develop the work begun by the conciliar commission.

It was a masterful document that synthesised the essence of the Jocist-inspired “Specialised Catholic Action” model that Cardijn had developed over the previous forty years. Without a single mention of the “Italian” model of clerically-controlled, politically-oriented and Church-defending Catholic Action, Cardijn offered a completely different vision of Catholic Action led by lay people, focused on formation and reaching out to the world.

Such was the vision that would guide and inform all his work – and that of his jocist colleagues – over the course of work of the Preparatory Commission.

SOURCE

Joseph Cardijn, Note 1, L’apostolat des laïcs (Archives Cardijn 1576) (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, Note 1, The apostolate of lay people (Archives Cardijn 1576) (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

A first draft of a note for the Prep Com

Now that he has been appointed to the Prep Com on Lay Apostolate, as usual, Cardijn prepares meticulously, drafting an extraordinarily wide-ranging and detailed note of the way in which he would like the commission to work.

In his note, he begins by outlining the issue:

“The problem of the apostolate of lay people and of the formation of lay people for their apostolate can be exposed and solved starting from different points of departure, but which all lead to the same conclusions:

1. The Church, its mission, lay people in the Church.

2. God, the plan of God, in the Incarnation and the Redemption, participation of lay people in this plan of God.

3. The Christian’s mission in the world.

4. Man, his life, his problems, his worth and the mission of each person.”

He then drafts an extensive enquiry questionnaire for himself, which he also divides into several sections

First, he tackles “Secular and human problems” which he subdivides further into several categories:

  1. Ontological and personal, beginning with “Who am I? Why do I exist? How do I relate to others?”
  2. Family and emotional issues, beginning with “Who are my family? Who are my siblings? What about marriage?” etc.
  3. Free time: “How do I spend it? With whom? etc.
  4. Teaching and education: “How many years at school? What have I learned? Why did I leave school?
  5. Work: “What is my profession? Who do I work with? How long? Am I in a union?”
  6. Society, organisations and social institutions: “Do I exist alone? With whom? Should I be interested in various organisations?” etc.
  7. Human differences: “What are the differences between peoples?”

Cardijn then moves on to “Religious issues” beginning with the question of a person’s relationship with God, the meaning of the Incarnation of God, the existence of other religions, relationships with other Christians and non-believers, whether priests and pastors receive the kind of doctrinal and pastoral formation they need, etc.

Clearly conscious of the fact that his questions are likely to be fairly distant from the concerns of the PCLA, he explains their significance:

“In themselves for the understanding of their personal life in all its aspects: personal, family, professional, social, cultural, political, national and international;

for the understanding and realisation of their own mission in their own life in its aspects;

for the mutual promotion of this life in their immediate environment and in the world and for the union, understanding, progress, peace of all humanity;

for the eternal destiny of each and everyone;

for the glory of God and the realisation of his plan in the work of Creation and Redemption;

for collaboration in the work of the Church, in the ecumenical mission of the Church in the world of today and tomorrow.”

In a short Part II entitled “The apostolic formation of lay people” he explains that:

“1. The faithful in the Church must be formed

a) to discover these problems of their own life and that of all men

b) to discover the apostolic value of these problems

c) to learning and exercising their apostolic mission in their life, i.e. of the apostolic transformation of their own life in view of their apostolic mission immediate.

2. This apostolic formation begins at birth in the family, intensifies in school, becomes more precise and adapts to the moment of choosing and learning about their state of life.

3. This apostolic formation, doctrinal and practical, is not individualistic, but takes place in an adapted apostolic movement, where young lay people unite on the spot and on the scale of the current world, to collaborate in the action and representation of the apostolic conception of life and of the world at all stages and in all aspects of their life.

–    lives, living environment, daily, concrete and practical problems;

– private and public authorities at all levels
– national and international private and public organisations and institutions, confessional and interfaith, interracial.”

Finally, in a short Part C dealing with the work of the PCLA, he again makes an important list of points to be dealt with:

Its composition

Its purpose

Its method of work:

1) definition of the lay apostolate

2) organisation of the lay apostolate

3) formation of lay people in the apostolate

4) training of priests, men and women religious for their mission in the formation of the laity for the apostolate

5) extension and deepening of the lay apostolate

in the world of work

in intellectual circles and leaders

in education

in the different continents, races,

in national and international institutions, governmental and non-governmental

with non-Catholics and non-Christians

with organisations, movements, institutions,

achievements of non-Catholics and non-Christians.

6) Should there be sub-committees or working groups with lay people for resolutions, and fruitful practical conclusions?”

It is an extraordinary document with obvious roots in the Cardijn method of beginning from the everyday life of the people rather than from the Church’s doctrine.

SOURCE

Original French:

Joseph Cardijn, Note 1: Première ébauche d’un avant projet (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation:

Joseph Cardijn, Outline for Note 1 on the Lay Apostolate (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)