Collaborate with all, including non-Christians

Ernest Michel - Cardijn 25 03 1961

On 25 March 1961, Fr Ernest Michel, national chaplain to the French-speaking (Walloon) Belgian JOC, wrote to Cardijn, who had sought his views on the pastoral letter then being drafted by Bishop Emile-Joseph De Smedt of Bruges.

“Here are the few suggestions that I think you could make to Bishop De Smedt regarding his letter,” Michel wrote.

“In the chapter: Living in union with Christ, Reigning in his people, from page 10.

“Stress the possibility and the need for Christians to collaborate with all people of good will – even those who are non-Christian – in the construction of the world.

“Similarly, underline with a little more force the need for Christians to get involved in organisations to carry out their temporal mission (organisations which, in fact, do not always need to be confessional).

“This is what is now often describes as ‘temporal engagement,’ a term that does not appear as such in the letter.

In relation to Catholic Action, Michel suggested that the letter should indicate “that very often specialised Catholic action, especially when it works in dechristianised environments, is that impactful Catholic action of which he speaks.”

SOURCE

Original French

Ernest Michel – Cardijn 25 03 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Ernest Michel – Cardijn 25 03 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Suggestions for Bishop De Smedt

Bishop Emile-Joseph De Smedt

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.

SOURCE

French original

Joseph Cardijn, A la lecture d’un texte (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Joseph Cardijn, On reading a document (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Bishop Emile-Joseph De Smedt (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

36 Belgians in the Prep Coms

La Libre Belgique 19 01 1961

The Belgian paper, La Libre Belgique reported on 19 January 1961 that 36 Belgians, including of course Cardijn, had been appointed to the various preparatory commissions for the coming Second Vatican Council.

Others who were close to Cardijn, the JOC and/or other Specialised Catholic Action movements included:

Cardinal Jozef-Ernest Van Roey of Malines-Brussels, Cardijn’s own archbishop and a long-standing supporter, but now aged 87;

Bishop Emiel-Jozef De Smedt of Bruges, a dynamic young bishop (aged 52) who had worked with the VKAJ, the Flemish female JOC, and whose sister Livine, had been a fulltime worker for the VKAJ who had also helped launch the JOC in Germany;

Fr Bernard Botte osb, a Benedictine liturgist, who was prominent in the liturgical reform movement;

Fr Lucien Cerfaux, a Louvain theologian, New Testament scholar and expert in Paulinian theology, who had been advisor to Cardijn and the JOC during the late 1940s.

But others less sympathetic to Cardijn included the ambitious young auxiliary bishop of Malines-Brussels, Leon-Joseph Suenens.

A notable omission from the preparatory commissions was Mgr Gerard Philips, the Louvain theologian and author of an influential book Le rôle du laïcat dans l’Eglise, published in French in 1954, and in English as The Role of the Laity in the Church in 1955.

SOURCES

Archives JOCI

Cardinal Jozef-Ernest Van Roey (Catholic Hierarchy)

Bishop Emiel-Jozef De Smedt (Catholic Hierarchy)

Bernard Botte osb (Liturgical Leaders)

Stefan Gigacz, The liturgical movement and Catholic Action (Cardijn Research)

Lucien Cerfaux (Encyclopedia.com)

Lucien Cerfaux (Wikipedia.fr)