Call for worldwide survey of working conditions

PETROPOLIS, Brazil, Nov. 9 — Young Christian Workers from 85 countries unanimously called for a worldwide survey of working conditions of young workers and resolved to set up an international program for vocational training for young people entering the labor force.

Some 350 delegates gathered here for the YCW’s second international congress (Nov. 2 to 11). They had held no similar meeting since their first congress in Rome in 1957.

Present for the meeting in this resort city was Msgr. Joseph Cardijn, 80-year-old founder of the movement. The congress began with a Mass offered by Jaime Cardinal de Barros Camara, Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, during which the various delegations recited prayers in their own languages.

The congress was opened officially by Canada’s Romeo Maione, outgoing president of the International YCW, in the presence of high dignitaries of Church and State. Archbishop Armando Lombardi, Apostolic Nuncio to Brazil, read a letter sent on behalf of His Holiness Pope John XXIII.

“There is no doubt,” the letter said, “that this meeting will result in new missionary development and strengthen the union of young workers of All races and colors in the Mystical Body of Christ.”

The general program of the YCW was outlined by Malone in his keynote address.

“Basically,” he said, “our task here is to do something about the problems of working youth, but at the same time we must realize how the problems of young workers exist within the context of larger problems which are now sweeping the earth… Modern times demand heroic virtue. Man is hungry for peace, and ‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.'”

Maione mentioned such current problems as population growth, the upheavals accompanying the end of the colonial era, migration, education and the breaking-up of family life.

But he indicated that the greatest problem is the decline of religious influence on society: “When religious values start to slide, so also does respect for the human person. Without God what is man? Without God humanism is a lie. What is man worth? Why respect him? This slippery trail leads us into confusion once again and the world becomes a Jungle where the strong do what they will with the weak.”

Calling for the construction of a new social order which is broad and realistic, Maione said: “There are few men, if any, who can prophesy about the future structure of the world. If we are humble, we must all admit that we are not competent to say how the present and future discoveries of science will affect our social structure.”

He insisted that out of the prevailing international anarchy of today anew social order based on the masses of mankind must emerge.

If the traditional ruling classes are in danger of decay today, he said, it is because they have refused to adapt, or have proved themselves incapable of adapting, to the task of the just organization of anew world.

The congress, besides calling for a survey of working conditions throughout the world and for an international training program also voted for permanent mutual aid programs between YCW groups.

It urged YCW action on behalf of workers at both the national level and before such organizations as the U.N. Economic and Social Council, the International Labor Organization, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.

Also approved were two appeals:

  • That men of good will “cooperate in the efforts of young workers to build a more Just and more human world, placing themselves at the service of the community and avoiding any kind of individualism”
  • That national government and international organizations “strive together” for world peace, and “carry out their mission by fulfilling the urgent aspirations of the people and bring about respect for the human person.”


YCWs of 85 countries call for worker survey, wider vocational work (N.C.W.C. NEWS SERVICE)