As usual, Cardijn’s preparation for his planned trip to Rome in late February 1960 was minutious.
Even the list of people he planned to visit is impressive.
Archbishop Angelo Dell’Acqua, the Substitute at the Vatican, with whom Cardijn has been in regular contact since his appointment in 1954 to replace Mgr Montini, who had been promoted to archbishop of Milan.
Cardinal Fernando Cento had previously been nuncio to Belgium from 1946 to 1953.
A tough-minded conservative who had been Substitute for Pope Pius XI from 1929-35, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani had only recently been appointed as Secretary to the Vatican Holy Office. The son of a working-class baker, Ottaviani, was sympathetic to Cardijn and the JOC.
Now the Secretary of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Archbishop Pietro Sigismondi was previously the nuncio to Rwanda the Belgian colony that hosted one of the strongest JOC movements in Africa.
Lebanese-born Cardinal François Agagianian was the Pro-Prefect of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.
Soon to be appointed as a cardinal, Archbishop Pietro Marella became nuncio to France succeeding the then-Archbishop Roncalli in 1953 and would serve in that role until the end of 1959.
Archbishop Antonio Samorè was the secretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, the foreign affairs branch of the Vatican Secretariat of State.
Cardijn knew and had working relationships if not friendships with them all.
In addition to these Vatican personalities, Cardijn planned to see Fr Jean-Baptiste Janssens, the Belgian-born superior general of the Jesuits, along with the heads of other missionary orders whose priests worked closely with the JOC, including the Oblates, White Fathers and Holy Cross Fathers.
He planned to visit Archbishop Maximilien de Fürstenberg, the rector of the Belgian College in Rome. Interestingly, he also planned to visit the Opus Dei priest, Fr (now Blessed) Alvaro del Portillo, who was on the “Commission laïcs pour le Concile” (Laity Commission for the Council).
In addition, he also foreshadowed a visit to Mgr Achille Glorieux, the French-born former JOC chaplain from Lille, who was secretary to the Permanent Committee for the Apostolate of the Laity.
Most of the topics Cardijn listed for his discussions revolved around the work of the YCW on the various continents and regions.
Particularly interesting and significant, however, is Cardijn’s note of issues to raise with Archbishop Dell’Acqua:
“Peut-on suggérer une Encycllque ?
a/ à l’occasion du 70ème anniversaire de Rerum Novarum, sur ‘L’Eglise face au monde du travail’
b/ pour dissiper le désarroi et la confusion sur « L’ Apostolat des laïcs ».”
“Could we suggest an Encyclical,” Cardijn asks,
“a/ on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Rerum Novarum on “The Church and the world of work”
“b/ to dissipate the disarray and confusion over ‘The Lay Apostolate’.”
“The Church and the World of Work” and “The Lay Apostolate”: two themes at the heart of Cardijn’s mission.
Clearly, he was also highly concerned about the “disarray” and “confusion” over the latter.
Although he makes no specific mention of the Council, surely it was not absent from Cardijn’s thoughts.
Voyage à Rome de Mgr Cardijn et Romeo Maione (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)
Trip to Rome of Mgr Cardijn and Romeo Maione (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)