ACI Newsletter November

Thanks, forgiveness and hope

Dear Friends,

I've titled this edition "Thanks, forgiveness and hope," borrowing from one of the most remarkable talks I've ever heard, namely a video recorded by former International YCS and Pax Romana chaplain, Fr Antoine Sondag, before his death earlier this month.

It's also the 25th anniversary this week of another noteworthy event: Nelson Mandela's speech to the IYCW World Council in South Africa in 1995. As the text makes clear, the South African president had a genuine personal appreciation of the YCW's contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle in that country.

We also feature the video from our successful Fratelli Tutti webinar with Bruce Duncan and Danusia Kaska. Plus a further reminder of our upcoming webinar this Saturday looking at the outcome of the US elections with Patrick Carolan.

In December, ACI will launch a new ebook edition of Cardijn's famous "Challenge to Action" compilation, the first new edition since his death in 1967.

More news also about Pope Francis' "Economy of Francesco" initiative, his article this week in the New York Times and a speech for the Festival of Catholic Social Doctrine. News too about Catholic institutions in Asia committing to climate action plus a warning from Jean Ker Walsh on the crisis affecting refugees in Australia.

And finally my own new blog marking the 60th anniversary of Vatican II which will follow Cardijn's work and battles day by day over the course of the Council.

Thanks for joining us!

Stefan Gigacz
Nelson Mandela's address to the IYCW: 25 years
Nelson Mandela at IYCW World Council 1995
This week marks the 25th anniversary of former South African President Nelson Mandela's opening speech at the World Council of the International YCW held in South Africa in November 1995.

Mandela, who was clearly familiar with the work of the South African YCW, made a point of attending the opening, flying by helicopter to Oukasie, a town 45km from Pretoria, where the event took place.

Seeing the young workers gathered in the hot sun, he left the sheltered stand from where he delivered his speech to individually shake the hand of every delegate to the World Council.

"It is indeed a great privilege for me to be present at the Official Opening Ceremony of the YCW World Council," the South African president told delegates. "It is a special pleasure to associate myself with the Young Christian Workers' long record of standing up against injustice throughout the world, including South Africa."


Nelson Mandela, Opening of the Young Christian Workers World Council (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Nelson Mandela's speech to the International YCW (
US elections 2020: The impact of Catholic Social Teaching
Joe Biden with Pope Francis
On Saturday 28 November 2020, ACI will host a Zoom webinar on the theme “The U.S. elections 2020: the impact of Catholic Social Teaching on Catholic voters.”

Our speaker will be Patrick Carolan, a lifelong US based Catholic activist. He is the son of Irish immigrants who came to America in 1950. Patrick served for nine years as the Executive Director of the Franciscan Action Network and co-founded the Global Catholic Climate Movement with which the Cardijn Community International is affiliated.

Previously he served as president of a public employee union. In 2020 Patrick served as director of Catholic outreach for Vote Common Good and was a leader in organizing the Catholics for Biden campaign. Patrick is a frequent contributor to Catholic journals such as St Anthony”s Messenger, National Catholic Reporter and Novena News. He resides in Washington DC.

The webinar will cover the issues that united and divided Catholics in the U.S. 2020 presidential campaign, how they might play out in the next four years and whether Catholic Social Teaching can have a significant impact on US political processes.

Underlying these aspects is the more general issue, also relevant in Australia, of the connection between Catholic Social Teaching and the political process. Can Catholic Social Teaching move the political dial?


Saturday 28 November 2020, 12.00 noon (AEDT). Lunchtime for many.

Bruce Duncan and Danusia Kaska on Fratelli Tutti
bruce 500
Over 100 participants attended the ACI webinar on "What future for humanity? Pope Francis' new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti" with Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR and Danusia Kaska from the Xavier Social Justice Network on 22 October.

An audio recording of the whole event is now available. However, owing to technical issues, we had to re-record the video, which is also now available on YouTube thanks to the work of John Costa.


What future for humanity? Audio of the Webinar (Australian Cardijn Institute)

What future for humanity? Video of Fr Bruce Duncan and Danusia Kaska presentations (ACI/YouTube)

Refugee crisis anticipated
Asylum Seekers
Writing in Inside Story, former Melbourne YCW leader, Jean Ker Walsh, has warned that "a crisis is hovering behind the scenes of Victoria’s release from pandemic lockdown."

This is "expected to trigger the eviction from their homes of over one hundred refugees and people seeking asylum, who have been living in community detention while they await visa decisions," Jean writes.

Sister Brigid Arthur, joint coordinator of the Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project, which has been providing emergency funds, food and other material aid to refugees and people seeking asylum since 2001, agreed with this assessment.

“We are preparing for a crisis to hit,” Sr Brigid said. “We estimate that we need to find another one hundred accommodation units to house families and individuals likely to find themselves homeless within the coming month.”


Jean Ker Walsh, "We are just waiting. We are always waiting." (Inside Story)


Baptist Asylum Seeker Project
Cardijn @ Vatican II: Following his work at the Council day by day
Cardijn with lay auditors, Patrick Keegan and
It's 60 years this month since Pope John XXIII launched ten preparatory commissions to draft documents for the Second Vatican Council.

Cardijn was among those appointed to the Preparatory Commission on Lay Apostolate. Aged 78, he grasped the opportunity to have an impact on the course of the Council.

Over the next two years he would write 17 papers for the Commission. He proposed that John XXIII write an encyclical to mark the 70th anniversary of Rerum Novarum. He worked with the leaders and chaplains of the International YCW and Christian Worker movements to mobilise ideas and support.

Now, ACI secretary, Stefan Gigacz, has launched a new blog that traces these efforts in a blog that will follow the work of Cardijn and the "jocist network" at the Council on a day by day basis.


Cardijn @ Vatican II website

Cardijn @ Vatican II (Twitter) Cardijn @ Vatican II (Facebook)


Cardijn @ Vatican II: A new blog (Cardijn Research)
Greg Crafter, a papal knight
Greg Crafter
Congratulations to former Adelaide YCW leader and national extension worker, Greg Crafter, for his appointment by Pope Francis as a Knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great.

Greg later practised law in Adelaide before entering the South Australian Parliament as the Labor member for the seat of Norwood. He also served for seven years as the Minister for Education in that state.

In 2011, he co-authored a paper with current ACI president, Brian Lawrence, proposing the establishment of a Cardijn Institute in Australia, a proposal that has now come to fruition with the Australian Cardijn Institute.


Greg Crafter now a papal knight (Australian Cardijn Institute)

Papal honours for SA leaders (The Southern Cross)
Pope Francis calls for post-Covid economic transformation
Pope Francis
In a video message for the ‘Economy of Francesco’ event he convened to give flesh to his “dream of a new humanism”, Pope Francis has urged a “transformation” of the economy post-COVID, insisting that “it is time” to let “the poor” and “the excluded” become “protagonists in their own lives and in the fabric of society as a whole”.

"You recognize the urgent need for a different economic narrative, for a responsible realization that “the present world system is certainly unsustainable from a number of points of view” and is harming our sister earth, so gravely maltreated and despoiled, together with the poor and the excluded in our midst," the pope said.

"Your voice is much more than an empty, passing outcry that can be quelled with the passage of time," he continued. "Rather, you are called to have a concrete impact on cities and universities, workplaces and unions, businesses and movements, public and private offices, and to work with intelligence, commitment and conviction in order to reach the centres where ideas and paradigms are developed and decided."


Pope urges “transformation” of economy post-COVID: “It is time to let ‘the poor’ and ‘the excluded’ become protagonists in society” (Novena News)


Pope's video message to Economy of Francis (Vatican News/YouTube)


Pope Francis: A Crisis Reveals What Is in Our Hearts (New York Times)

Pope: Church's social doctrine makes us agents of hope (Vatican News)
Asian Catholic institutions commit to climate action
Pollution Philippines
Several Catholic institutions in Asia have joined the growing number of faith-based groups that have committed to divest from fossil fuels and champion “ethical investment," the Global Catholic Climate Movement – Asia has announced.

It said the announcement was the first since the Vatican issued “operational guidance” on the environment in May. The guidelines entitled “Journeying Towards Care For Our Common Home, Five Years After Laudato si” aim to encourage Catholics “to avoid investing in companies that harm human or social ecology or environmental ecology.”

“The future of our economy is in clean energy, and the Catholic commitment is clear. We invite governments to join us in urgent, ambitious action to protect our common home,” commented Fr Augusto Zampini-Davies, adjunct secretary of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.


Catholic institutions across Asia join calls for ‘ethical investment’ (Licas News)


Devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 in Tacloban, Philippines. Photo by A.G. Saño. (Global Catholic Climate Movement)
Books: Challenge to Action ebook to be launched
Frank Marriott
The Australian Cardijn Institute is publishing a new ebook edition of Cardijn’s classic “Challenge to Action," making his thought available to a new generation of movement leaders, pastoral workers and others.

The book, which has been out of print since Cardijn's death in 1967, contains several of his most important speeches and writings, including the iconic “Three Truths” talk originally delivered at the First International Congress of the YCW in 1935, the 1948 lecture series “The Hour of the Working Class” and “The Young Worker Faces Life” from 1949.

Former YCW chaplain, Mgr Frank Marriott (above), from Bendigo, in Sandhurst Diocese, Victoria, will launch the book at a special online event that will take place at 7.00pm AEDT on Tuesday 8 December 2020.


Cardijn’s classic ‘Challenge to Action’ relaunches (Australian Cardijn Institute)

Antoine Sondag's Three Last Things: Thanks, forgiveness and hope
antione 500 02
French priest, Fr Antoine Sondag, a former chaplain to the International YCS and later to the Pax Romana ICMICA movement, died on 7 November.

Known to many generations of movement leaders for his personal qualities and friendship as well as his intellectual capacities, Fr Antoine also served the French Church in a variety of roles.

Educated at the elite Institute of Political Science in Paris, he renounced an academic career to train as a priest in his home diocese of Metz, where he began his involvement with the French JEC or YCS.

Later he directed the research department for Caritas France and led the "mission universelle" or international affairs department for the French Catholic Bishops Conference.

Recently, he animated a dialogue process between the two YCW international movements, the International YCW (IYCW) and the International Coordination of the YCW (ICYCW).

Knowing that his end was near, he recorded a remarkable video reflection on the meaning of life and death that has already been viewed online over 20,000 times and translated into 12 languages in less than two weeks since his death.


Antoine Sondag, A Dieu (Diocese of Metz) (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Antoine Sondag, A Dieu (English Transcript) (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)


Stefan Gigacz, Antoine Sondag, a diaconal priest (Cardijn Research)
Coming Events
challenge to action 03
Saturday 28 November, 12 noon AEDT: US Elections 2020: The impact of Catholic Social Teaching, with Patrick Carolan, former executive director of the Franciscan Action Network, Washington, DC. Click here to register:

Tuesday 8 December, 7.00pm AEDT: Challenge to Action Ebook Launch, with Mgr Frank Marriott. Click here to register:
Editorial Note: The purpose of the ACI Newsletter is to share information and promote discussion. Citing or linking to articles does not imply any endorsement by ACI of the authors' views.
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