In December 1961, the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate sent out a proposed calendar of work for 1962.
Although not signed, it is very probable that the document was sent by the commission secretary, Mgr Achille Glorieux.
It read as follows:
The Commission will hold two more Plenary Sessions at the beginning of 1962. In fixing the dates, we have tried to meet the preferences of Our Lords the Bishops; but above all we were obliged to take into account two circumstances – degree of advancement of our work and meetings of the Central Commission at that time; which led us to fix these Sessions on the following dates:
from Wednesday 24 to Wednesday 31 January and from Wednesday 4 to Wednesday 11 April
Between now and these dates, here is how the Commission will work:
1) The 2° & 3° Sub-Commissions have practically completed their work; they will finalize the texts based on the suggestions heard, in particular during the Thursday morning session.
2) As for the 1st Sub-Commission, it still has a lot to do. One of the purposes of the additional meeting on Saturday afternoon is precisely to clarify how the remaining work can be completed. It will then be necessary to coordinate between them the texts of the three Sub-Commissions.
3) The essence of the Session at the end of January will be to present in plenary session the texts of the 1st Sub-Commission and the initial results of the coordination work.
4) The comments gathered at this time will be used to prepare a general draft, which will be proposed as final. This will be sent to all Members and Consultors, to gather their latest comments, from which a definitive text will be established.
5) The April Session will be devoted exclusively to voting on this text.
On 20 November 1961, Marguerite Fiévez wrote to PCLA secretary, Mgr Achille Glorieux, to let him know that Cardijn was still travelling in Latin America following the World Council of Rio de Janeiro.
“You may be aware that Mgr Cardijn will not return from Rio before the end of this month,” Fiévez wrote.
“In his absence, I opened the latest batch of documents from the Commission. I don’t know if Monsignor will have something to send you regarding the two documents, TC 1 and TC 2.
“But even if he had any amendments or suggestions to propose, he obviously could not send them to you before the 1st December as you request. Moreover, following the YCW World Council, Mgr Cardijn needs to visit several countries before returning to Brussels.
“It is obviously practically impossible for me to reach him to send him the relevant documents. Nevertheless, in practice, I very much doubt that he would have anything to send you.”
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.