In March 1961, Bishop Emile-Joseph De Smedt of Bruges consulted Cardijn on the drafting of a proposed pastoral letter on “the priesthood of the faithful.”
And he does not fear to correct De Smedt, characterising one phrase as simply “erronée” – erroneous or incorrect.
Whereas De Smedt appears to have mentioned “les fidèles” or “the faithful”, Cardijn insists on speaking of the “lay faithful.”
In typical fashion, he is concerned that ordinary people will be able to understand the document, questioning terms such as “ministerial” as in “ministerial priesthood.”
Nor does he approve of the term “corporation” used by De Smedt to distinguish between the “corporation of priests” in the Church and the “corporation of all the baptised.”
He emphasises the “missionary apostolate.”
And he insists that priests are “animators” and “not just administrators.
Specialised Catholic Action
Also highly significant is Cardijn distinction between Specialised and General Catholic Action
Specialised Catholic Action is concerned with “the whole of life, all the problems of life,” he says.
On the other hand, he views “General Catholic Action” as a “coordination of all Specialised CA organizations.”
Moreover Catholic must be more concerned with having an “impact” than providing “services,” Cardijn argues, adding characteristically that it must be organised “at the parish, diocesan, national and international level.”
“Shouldn’t more importance be given to studying its development” he asks in conclusion.
Joseph Cardijn, A la lecture d’un texte (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)
Joseph Cardijn, On reading a document (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)
Bishop Emile-Joseph De Smedt (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)