In a letter dated 3 October 1960, Mgr Glorieux was quick to respond to Cardijn, counselling caution and patience.

“I only received your letter of the 27 September this morning,” he wrote, “and I wanted to reply without delay but not without having read and reread it with close attention.

“Your letter contains two points on the same issue (collaboration in the preparation of the Council) that I will distinguish for the moment, namely the contribution of the various movements of the apostolate in the worker milieu and the eventual creation of a sub-commission of lay people.

“Regarding the first point, I will say without hesitation (but subject to one reserve indicated below that you will understand) that every organisation is perfectly authorised to submit any documents and contributions that it desires to the Commission. Some have already done so.

“But I would be much more reserved on the second point because as of the date at which you wrote to me, no preparatory Commission has yet begun its work in Rome… That may surprise you; but it is necessary to take into account the level of international organisation that is involved and also recall that during the First Vatican Council the preliminaries – before the preparatory Commissions – last several years.

“I therefore say, if then we are only going to start in Rome and people that there are “sub-commissions” being created left and right, the effect will be deplorable. Could you and the other movements you mention wait a little; and above do mention this project. In time, it will certainly be of interest and we will look then at how to achieve it in a genuinely effective manner.

“Have no doubt, dear Monsignor, that I am the first to desire that lay people make themselves heard; they alone understand certain aspects of the problems and have the experience of their life milieux. However, we must not skip over the steps…

“And it is here that I come back to the reserve that I mentioned earlier (but not to block any initiative by the movements; from my point of view, there is no contra-indication, simply a question of whether it is opportune); is it opportune from a perspective of a common contribution made possible in a certain period of time by an initiative such as that which you envisage, that each movement or organisation actually makes its own representations to the Commission? It is up to you to decide…

“So you see that your question is not all indiscreet and I have done my best to answer; and it is clear that this response is also addressed to all those who have discussed this project with you,” Glorieux concludes, adding that he will be happy to discuss further in mid-November when Cardijn was to come to Rome for the first meeting of the Commission.


Achille Glorieux à Cardijn 1960 10 03 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)