A proposed new chapter on lay apostolate

On 15 January 1962, Cardijn again wrote to Archbishop Garrone of Toulouse thanking him for his letter of 10 January and following up with further proposals.

“In an earlier note to His Eminence Cardinal Cento, I expressed the wish that the importance of the apostolate specific to the laity should be highlighted in the documents of the Commission with a special chapter, either before or after the chapter on the family apostolate,” Cardijn noted.

“I took the liberty of sending you a copy of that previous note.

“I have now attempted to draft the contents of this chapter in the note that I am now sending you – a copy is attached,” Cardijn continued, referring it seems to his Note 12 “The essential and irreplaceable apostolate of lay people.”

“I don’t know if such a chapter could find a place among the documents already proposed by the three Sub-Commissions.

“I am sending it to you, Excellency, in order to let you know how much the question haunts me. Please excuse me for daring to be so forthright.”

SOURCE

ORIGINAL FRENCH

Joseph Cardijn – Gabriel-Marie Garrone 15 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn – Gabriel-Marie Garrone 15 01 1962 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Lay apostolate not clear enough in draft PCLA documents

On 28 December 1961, Cardijn wrote to PCLA president, Cardinal Fernando Cento, enclosing his reflections and his concerns regarding the three draft documents prepared by the Commission.

And he does not hold back in expressing his fears.

“On returning from Latin America, I found among other items on my desk the three texts: TC3, De Apostolatu Laicorum – TC1, de Actione Sociali – TC2, De Actione Caritative.

“I have reread them successively and I am taking the opportunity to now send your Eminence a brief note commenting on all of them since I do not have time to annotate each paragraph.

“May I be permitted to express my concern to your Eminence? I fear that the decisive importance of the proper and irreplaceable apostolate of the laity, their apostolate in temporal life, does not emerge sufficiently from these documents.

“The long journey that I have just made has confirmed my observation over fifty years of priesthood devoted to this apostolate, namely that the clergy in general do not see the urgency of combating materialism, secularism and social disorder that threaten the world and the Church. It seems to me that a solemn appeal – a true SOS – by the Ecumenical Council, addressed to both laity and priests is essential.

“Your Eminence will forgive me for insisting so simply. It is my conscience that prompts me to make this appeal.

I am pleased to send your Eminence my most fervent wishes for a holy and happy Year 1962!” Cardijn concluded.

The priesthood and the place of the laity in the Church

On 13 October 1961, L’Osservatore Romano published an article entitled “Le sacerdoce et la place des laïcs dans l’Eglise,” being the text of a speech delivered by Cardinal Fernando Cento to the Second Theology Congress organised by the Dominican Study Centre in Bologna.

In his article, Cardinal Cento borrows heavily from Bishop De Smedt’s pastoral letter on the priesthood of the faithful.

SOURCE

Bishop De Smedt Archives, Bruges Diocesan Archives

Copy to Cardinal Cento

On 8 August 1961, Cardijn wrote to Preparatory Commission president, Cardinal Fernando Cento, enclosing a copy of the letter he had sent a day earlier to Mgr Glorieux in relation to young domestic workers.

“I am taking the liberty of communicating to your Eminence the letter that I have just sent to Monsignor Glorieux concerning my intervention at the last session of our Conciliar Commission, as well as with respect to several other points that concern me,” Cardijn wrote.

Evidently, he was not satisfied with what was being done in response to his concerns and wanted to make this clear to Cento in his usual polite way.

“I apologise for disturbing Your Eminence in this way, bringing to your attention concerns of which You are very well aware, but which I again humbly submit to your authorised judgment,” Cardijn emphasises.

And he concludes with reference to the death the day before of Cardinal Van Roey, who was well known to Cardinal Cento who had been nuncio to Belgium from 1946 to 1953.

“Your Eminence certainly shares the mourning which has struck the Church of Belgium with the death of His Eminence Cardinal van Roey. I am struck by the unanimity expressed in this mourning, not only among Catholics, but also among the whole population and the whole of the press. Everyone recognises the righteousness and greatness of the Eminent Primate,” Cardijn concluded.

SOURCE

FRENCH ORIGINAL

Joseph Cardijn – Cardinal Fernando Cento, 08 08 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Joseph Cardijn – Cardinal Fernando Cento, 08 08 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Domestic workers issue to be addressed

On 28 July 1961, Mgr Glorieux sent a card to Cardijn enclosing documents from the recent Prep Commission meeting where Cardijn had raised the issue of young domestic workers.

“In the last line,” Glorieux informs Cardijn, “mention is made of your important intervention on domestic workers and the suggestion by Cdl Cento: not to decide anything at the moment regarding the most suitable place to discuss this; however, it will be done.”

SOURCE

ORIGINAL FRENCH

Achille Glorieux – Joseph Cardijn, 28 07 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Achille Glorieux – Joseph Cardijn, 28 07 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Ecumenism and the lay apostolate

On 11 July 1961, Prep Com secretary, Mgr Achille Glorieux, wrote to Cardijn acknowledging receipt by Commission president, Cardinal Cento, of a letter “forwarding him the Declaration of the Executive Committee of the International YCW on Ecumenism on the day before the General Session of our Commission.”

“He already thanked you in person during your stay with us; but he would like me to emphasise again the significance he attaches to this document and that you, Mr Maione, and Miss Meersman, receive an expression of his gratitude,” Mgr Glorieux wrote.

“This question of ecumenism undoubtedly also concerns the apostolate of the laity; various projects are under way regarding this issue. It was also good that we also had the point of view of the JOC on this: by inviting all local, federal and national YCWs to make an effort in this area, you are greatly contributing to this mutual understanding without which we cannot hope for rapprochement.

“I am pleased to transmit these thoughts of the Cardinal to you, dear Monsignor. I add my personal gratitude for the document received and, even more, for everything that you contributed to the last General Session, both during the meeting at the Vatican and during the Chancellery meetings.”

SOURCE

ORIGINAL FRENCH

Achille Glorieux – Joseph Cardijn, 11 07 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Achille Glorieux – Joseph Cardijn, 11 07 1961 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

A letter to Cardinal Cento “clarifying ideas”

Cardijn Cento 18 12 1960

Prior to leaving for Africa, Cardijn had also drafted a letter to the president of the Preparatory Commission, Cardinal Cento. This too was sent by Marguerite Fiévez on 18 December along with Note 2 and Note 3 that he had completing writing before his departure.

In the letter he explained that he was leaving to attend a JOC training session in Lomé, Togo, after which he would continue his punishing travel schedule to other countries.

“After the meeting, I will continue to Dahomey, Cameroon, Brazzaville, Leopoldville, Rwanda and Urundi, thus completing the African tour that I had to interrupt in July following the painful events in Congo,” Cardijn wrote.

“I am sending your Eminence two notes which attempt to clarify the one I sent to Him on October 31,” he added.

“The first contains reflections and suggestions about the work program of the Commission, proposed by Monsignor Glorieux; the second seeks to set out the two essential and parallel aspects of all lay apostolate. I apologise in advance for the repetitions they include; but it is often by repeating and confronting that we end up clarifying ideas!

“I am sending two copies to Monsignor Glorieux, hoping that they will arrive before December 22. Other copies are available to Your Eminence and the Commission, if there is a need to communicate these texts to other Members.

“I will be in Rome for the next Session of our Commission from January 30 to February 4. I can extend my stay there after that date if that would be useful for the work of the Commission.

“I also take the opportunity with this letter to offer to Your Eminence my most fervent wishes for a Holy Feast of Christmas and a Happy New Year! And may He deign to accept my deepest homage and respect,” Cardijn concluded.

SOURCE

Cardijn à Cardinal Cento 1960 12 18 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Cardijn to Cardinal Cento 1960 12 18 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Three sub-commissions: More bad news

There was more bad news for Cardijn on 17 October 1960.

The Rome-based members of the PCLA had already met in October to discuss and decide upon the organisation of the work of the commission.

Now Cardinal Cento announced that three sub-commissions were to be created to study three themes: evangelisation, social action and charitable action, with Cardijn appointed to the first of these commissions.

But from Cardijn’s point of view, how could such a division of tasks be reconciled with his vision of lay apostolate transforming the whole of lay life? It was a compartmentalisation that risked reducing evangelisation to its spiritual dimension and confining social and charitable action to their temporal dimensions.

Moreover, it completely contradicted the “incarnational” approach that Cardijn had defended and presented to Pope John just nine months earlier:

“The formation of the disciples of Christ, from whatever social rank, includes this authentic lay apostolate, which will become increasingly urgent and must reach the whole of humanity,” Cardijn had argued.

“And the more we invite the faithful to seek the means to incarnate and realise this spirit, the more the Church will raise up the militants and the apostles that the new world needs in order to be truly animated by the spirit of Christ,” he wrote.

How could lay people be formed to grasp such a mission if the task of evangelisation was to be separated from social and charitable action?

Moreover, at a practical level in terms of the work of the PCLA, Cardijn now found himself sidelined if not excluded from the important work of the social and charitable action sub-commissions.

Nor was Cardijn alone in his concerns. In his history of the drafting process, Ferdinand Klostermann would later write somewhat cryptically of the creation of three sub-commissions: “This division was later to prove a source of difficulty for the commission.”

SOURCES

Achille Glorieux, Histoire du Décret ‘Apostolicam Actuositatem’ sur l’Apostolat des laïcs” in A. Glorieux, R. Goldie, Y. Congar, H.-R. Weber, G. Hasenhüttl, J. Grootaers, M-J. Beccaria, P. Toulat et H. Küng, L’Apostolat des Laïcs, Décret “Apostolicam actuositatem” (Sous la direction de Y. Congar), Séries Unam Sanctam 75, Cerf, Paris, 1970, 91-140.

Ferdinand Klostermann, “Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, History of the text,” in Herbert Vorgrimler (editor), Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, Volume III, Herder and Herder, 1969, 273.

Joseph Cardijn, Priests and the social doctrine of the Church (Archives Cardijn 1299) (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Cardijn sends Note 1 to Cardinal Cento

Cardijn to Cento 31 10 1960

On 31 October 1960, Cardijn sent his Note 1 to the president of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate, Cardinal Fernando Cento.

“I am honoured to send Your Eminence a note which was inspired by the program proposed for study by the Pontifical Commission for the Apostolate of the Laity,” Cardijn wrote.

“Your Eminence will judge whether it is advisable to communicate this note to the members of the Commission.

“I have no need to repeat to Your Eminence how happy I am to be able to participate under His presidency in the study of this problem to which I have devoted the whole of my priestly life,” he concluded.

SOURCE

French original

Cardijn à Cardinal Cento (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

English translation

Cardijn to Cardinal Cento (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)