Thus, on 1 February, PCLA secretary, Mgr Achille Glorieux writes on Cardijn’s behalf to Marguerite Fiévez.
“Mgr Cardijn, whom we are happy to have with us, has asked me to write to you,” Glorieux begins, “a few days ago we received the double document (I mean, with the part also translated into Latin) from Monsignor,”
“It would be useful for us to receive 45 (forty-five) copies, in order to give them to our Members and Consultors,” he asked.
Fiévez responded quickly, sending back the documents by express post on 6 February.
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.
In his third note (Note 3) dated 15 December 1960, Cardijn offers his “Reflections and Suggestions” in response to the proposed plan of work of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate as outlined by its secretary, Mgr Achille Glorieux, during the first plenary meeting of the commission in November.
A theoretical framework
Framed very abstractly, the program read as follows:
1. Notions and definition of the lay apostolate
2. Forms and methods
3. Formation for the lay apostolate
4. Submission to the hierarchy
5. Priests and laity
6. Catholic Action
7. Relationship between the various forms of the lay apostolate
8. Charitable action
9. Drafting of texts to be presented to the Central Commission.
Many comments could be made about this framework, beginning with the fact that it appears to assume the objectives of the lay apostolate are clear and well understood.
Notable also is the fact that the issue of “submission to the hierarchy” features prior to discussion of the roles of priests and laity, a completely top down conception of the Church to say the least.
Strangely, while “Charitable action” and “Social action” are listed, there no mention of “Evangelisation”, which was the subject to be studied by the first sub-commission to which Cardijn had been appointed.
Two initial realities: Church and life
Despite the politeness of his response, it is evident immediately that Cardijn is not happy with this framework. He therefore suggested:
“In order to clarify the concept and definition of the apostolate of the laity, we can began with two initial realities :
“1. The Church, its mission, its composition: the Hierarchy and its collaborators consecrated by means of a sacrament or a vow (priests and religious), their own mission; all the other faithful, members of the People of God who are the Church and who may be called laity in the ecclesial sense – hence the apostolate of the laity in the Church.
“2. The life, the needs of all people, created by God and who have a mission and a vocation received from God : a mission, vocation and apostolate that they fulfill in their own life, with all other people and in all human institutions, to use the whole of creation for their divine destiny. The apostolate of the laity in the ecclesial sense is necessary with respect to all other people and in all human institutions in order to enable people to discover and realise the mission of humankind and the world.”
As usual, Cardijn thus refuses to focus on the Church on its own or by itself. Instead, he seeks to confront the twin “realities” of
a) the Church and its mission with
b) the life and mission of the people “created by God” and the world they live in.
The contrast with the approach proposed by the PCLA could barely be greater.
Apostolic formation based on the see-judge-act
Cardijn further develops these ideas in his comments on the subsequent paragraphs of the draft plan.
The forms and methods of lay apostolate must be “appropriate to the life, milieux as well as to the problems and institutions of life, they will give birth to the specialised lay apostolate, which by its effectiveness and competence acquires a power of penetration and representation not only within a limited local field but also at national and international levels,” he argues.
Formation “is essentially apostolic,” he continues. “There can be no deep religious formation without formation for the apostolate. Humankind has received a divine mission from God; It is by recognising it and fulfilling it that it truly gives glory to God, collaborating in the establishment of his Kingdom, “on earth as in heaven.” Prayer, sacraments, liturgy, worship and interior life cannot be separated from apostolic life, just as the latter cannot be separated from the sources and expressions of religion.”
The jocist method educates the individual to see, judge and act “as a person, and as a Christian and apostle,” he insists.
“Could the Council insist on the urgency of integrating the apostolic formation of the laity at the heart of all religious formation, especially during the age of vocation (14 to 25 years)?” Cardijn proposes.
Regarding “submission to the hierarchy,” he recognises the primacy of the clergy in doctrinal and sacramental matters but insists on limiting this in other areas.
“Temporal, professional, social and cultural matters, submission to the Hierarchy will be expressed by virtue of and to the extent of the competency of the latter,” he argues.
“This submission must never be or appear to be a form of tutelage, an impediment to the initiative and responsibility of the laity,” Cardijn warns. “On the contrary, it must be and must ppear to be a guarantee of authenticity, an encouragement and support for all initiatives, all efforts and often all the sacrifices that are necessary for the extension of the Reign of God and for the salvation of people.”
Collaboration across the board
Concerning the relations between priests and laity, he emphasises the need to determine “the proper role and the complementary link between the priestly apostolate and the lay apostolate in the mission of the Church, both for the formation of the laity in their apostolate as well as in the permanent collaboration between priests and laity in the exercise of this apostolate.”
He calls for clarification of the notion of Catholic Action and insists on the need to find ways for Catholics to cooperate “with all the various non-Catholic and non-Christian lay organisations and institutions, whether private or public, governmental or non-governmental, local, national and international.”
He insists on the need for collaboration between the various forms of lay apostolate as well as emphasing the importance of both charitable and social action.
A declaration by the Council
Finally, in relation to the drafting of conciliar documents, Cardijn proposes “a kind of solemn declaration by the Council insisting on the current importance of the apostolate of the laity, its growing necessity before the current problems of the world to which the Church must and desires to provide a response.”
“This declaration would also be addressed to non-Catholics and non-Christians, recalling the divine mission of the whole of creation and the whole of humanity, expressing how much the Church desires to collaborate with all people and all human institutions against the terrible scourges that threaten the world and in favour of the complete progress of the human race,” he explains.
“This union of all people in a common effort to overcome obstacles to human freedom and to promote genuine progress responds closely to the desire of the Creator and the Redeemer,” Cardijn explains.
“The Church desires to be the leaven of this union in peace for the respect, raising up and happiness of all,” he concludes, offering his vision of a Church acting from within society rather than from on high.
“The Church’s call to the faithful, members of the Church is also addressed to all people who are all created by the same God and saved by the same Christ in order that together they may be united at this decisive hour for the peace of the world and the salvation of the human race,” he notes in a final appeal for the Council to look beyond the confines of the Church itself.
On 13 December 1960, Mgr Glorieux wrote to Cardijn again with a request to draft a paper for the PCLA on the theme “Priests and lay people in the apostolate.”
“During the 4th meeting of the Roman Members of the 1st Sub-Commission, a precise program of work was established,” Mgr Glorieux reported to Cardijn.
“HE Mons. Castellano, president of the Sub-Commission, then requested me to ask you to prepare over the next few weeks a special presentation for the Sub-Commission on the theme ‘Priests and lay people in the apostolate’ (also bearing in mind the Brothers and Religious Sisters who ‘assist’ certain groups),” he explained.
“I have also requested other Members and Consultors to prepare papers on other topics and I gave them the following guidelines. We would like to receive by return mail confirmation that you accept to prepare this paper. The paper would need to be sent to us by the Feast of the Epiphany or at the latest 9 January, the date of one of our meetings for the Members (of the Commission) residing in Rome. It should be presented as follows:
“1) A document briefly summarising the issue; 2) proposals of phrases to be inserted eventually in the Acts of the Council, including a preamble first, then the “declaration” (see for example Document Ri7 by Fr Papali). Point 1 may be drafted in French but for Point 2 you could translate it into Latin.
“We would like to have confirmation by return of mail that you agree to prepare this presentation. It should be sent to us for the feast of Epiphany, or at the latest by January 9, the date of one of our meetings for Members residing in Rome. present in the following way:
“Evidently, you will continue to be kept informed of all our work in order that you can offer your suggestions on each subject dealt with, either by correspondence or during our meeting at the end of January,” Mgr Glorieux concluded.
No doubt Cardijn was pleased to receive this invitation but by the time it arrived, he had already left for Africa.
As a result Marguerite Fiévez retyped Mgr Glorieux’s letter on JOC letterhead in order to forward it to Cardijn at Lomé in Togo.
On 15 October 1960, International YCW secretary-general, René Salanne, wrote to Paul Adam in Switzerland addressing this point.
“I am enclosing a copy of the letter that Mgr Cardijn sent to Mgr Glorieux on the issue of a ‘sub-commision’ of lay people as well as a copy of the response from Mgr Glorieux.
“However, it seems to me that there was a misunderstanding. Didn’t Mgr Glorieux understand that Mgr Cardijn was proposing the creation of a sub-commission by the organisations.
“When he responds ‘if while they are going to start only in Rome, they learn that “sub-commissions” are being created left and right’, then he seems to have such an interpretation of Mgr Cardijn’s project in his head.
“Mgr Cardijn will now write to him to say that he actually envisaged the creation of a sub-commission by the pontifical Commission itself, which could in fact call on other organisations,” he wrote. However, at this stage, I have found no record in either the IYCW or the Cardijn Archives of any response by him to Mgr Glorieux.
“The first meeting of the Commission will take place in Rome on 14 November,” René Salanne noted. It promised to be an interesting meeting!
On 7 October 1960, Cardijn wrote to Mgr Glorieux to ask if it would be possible to delay the first plenary meeting of the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate for a few days.
“You indicated that there may be a meeting of the Pontifical Commission around 15 November. We have our International Executive Committee in Amsterdam from November 1 to 15, and I have accepted to speak in Luxembourg on 17 November.
“As I would like to attend the first meeting of the Commission in Rome, is there no way to fix a date beginning on the 18 or the 19?
“I would really appreciate it if this is still possible. If the date is already fixed I will cancel some of the engagements that I have already made here in order to be with you in Rome.”
In a letter dated 3 October 1960, Mgr Glorieux was quick to respond to Cardijn, counselling caution and patience.
“I only received your letter of the 27 September this morning,” he wrote, “and I wanted to reply without delay but not without having read and reread it with close attention.
“Your letter contains two points on the same issue (collaboration in the preparation of the Council) that I will distinguish for the moment, namely the contribution of the various movements of the apostolate in the worker milieu and the eventual creation of a sub-commission of lay people.
“Regarding the first point, I will say without hesitation (but subject to one reserve indicated below that you will understand) that every organisation is perfectly authorised to submit any documents and contributions that it desires to the Commission. Some have already done so.
“But I would be much more reserved on the second point because as of the date at which you wrote to me, no preparatory Commission has yet begun its work in Rome… That may surprise you; but it is necessary to take into account the level of international organisation that is involved and also recall that during the First Vatican Council the preliminaries – before the preparatory Commissions – last several years.
“I therefore say, if then we are only going to start in Rome and people that there are “sub-commissions” being created left and right, the effect will be deplorable. Could you and the other movements you mention wait a little; and above do mention this project. In time, it will certainly be of interest and we will look then at how to achieve it in a genuinely effective manner.
“Have no doubt, dear Monsignor, that I am the first to desire that lay people make themselves heard; they alone understand certain aspects of the problems and have the experience of their life milieux. However, we must not skip over the steps…
“And it is here that I come back to the reserve that I mentioned earlier (but not to block any initiative by the movements; from my point of view, there is no contra-indication, simply a question of whether it is opportune); is it opportune from a perspective of a common contribution made possible in a certain period of time by an initiative such as that which you envisage, that each movement or organisation actually makes its own representations to the Commission? It is up to you to decide…
“So you see that your question is not all indiscreet and I have done my best to answer; and it is clear that this response is also addressed to all those who have discussed this project with you,” Glorieux concludes, adding that he will be happy to discuss further in mid-November when Cardijn was to come to Rome for the first meeting of the Commission.
A day after meeting with the JOC, ACO and the FIMOC, Cardijn wrote on 27 September 1960 to Mgr Achille Glorieux, who had been appointed secretary to the new PCLA.
“We met in Paris yesterday with the leaders of the ACO, FIMOC and JOC Internationale to examine the possibility of international collaboration. We also considered how each movement itself and all together we could do useful work by sending to the Lay Apostolate Commission and even to other commissions one or more documents proposing a study of certain issues and experiences of solution in the field of the worker apostolate, both young and adult.
“During our discussions, we even asked if we could not propose the creation of a sub-commission comprising lay leaders and militants to submit to the Pontifical Commission their point of view, experiences as well as the wishes of the lay apostles themselves with respect to the apostolate to which they had devoted their whole lives.
“This sub-commission could work at international level or diversify into continental sub-commissions, which would examine the issue from an even more realistic perspective on a continent by continent basis.
“The issue of the worker apostolate seems to me to be so important within the ensemble of issues of the lay apostolate that I do not hesitate to ask you if it would be opportune to make such a proposal.
“If you could consult His Eminence Cardinal Cento on this subject, you could then suggest to use the right attitude to take. I am ready myself to come and speak with His Eminence if he judges it opportune.
“This collaboration of the laity themselves in the preparation of the coming Ecumenical Council seems highly opportune to me at the moment when the World Council of Churches in Geneva is preparing its own World Congress in New Delhi next year on the theme “Christ, Light of the World” and has issued an enthusiastic call to the faithful of all faiths, as well as at a time when Moral Rearmament has redoubled its activity in Africa with all African parties as well moreover will all people of colour,” Cardijn wrote.