ACI Newsletter Apr 21

Anzac Day Edition

Dear Friends,

Welcome to our April issue which appears this Anzac weekend. We remember those Australian YCW and YCS leaders who served during the Vietnam War as we also remember those who were its victims or protested against it, including Cardijn himself.

We remember too that Cardijn narrowly avoided execution as a spy during World War I in which YCW co-founder, Fernand Tonnet, served in the trenches. And of course many YCW leaders from Belgium and France, including Tonnet, died on the battlefields and in the concentration camps of World War II. We remember all their sacrifices.

In this issue, we also recall the 130th anniversary of Rerum Novarum with a Bruce Duncan webinar next month. We note the publication of a new translation of the Reflections of Mondragon founder, Fr Arizmendi.

Brian Lawrence shares his thoughts on the importance of the Review of Life. I remember my meetings with the late Cardinal Edward Cassidy. The Vatican Dicastery on Laity, Family and Life praises the Covid response of the Specialised Catholic Action movements.

We note the establishment of a new Faith Workers Alliance and we have the video of Sr Claire Griffin's excellent see-judge-act webinar on "Combating People Trafficking."

Finally, we farewell Malaysian YCW leader and human rights defender, Aegile Fernandez, and remember the contribution of the Argentine business leader and Cardijn disciple, Venerable Enrique Shaw.

Stefan Gigacz
130 years of Catholic Social Teaching Webinar - Saturday 15 May
130 Years Rerum Novarum
On Saturday 15 May, the Australian Cardijn Institute, Social Policy Connections and Yarra Theological Union will host a webinar marking the 130th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s landmark encyclical “On the Condition of the Working Classes.”

Keynote speaker will be Bruce Duncan CSsR, who will address the theme ‘Why Pope Leo’s social manifesto remains critical today’, noting also the influence of England’s Cardinal Manning on the document and is impact in Australia.

“Faced with our gig economy, low or stagnant wages, housing stress, astonishing wealth in the hands of a few and neoliberal economics driving growing inequality, Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical, known in Latin at Rerum Novarum, is acutely relevant today,” Fr Bruce explains. “It has guided Catholic social teaching ever since.”


Celebrating the birth of Catholic Social Teaching (Australian Cardijn Institute)
The Social Thought of Mondragon founder, Fr Arizmendi
"Saints are an antidote to whatever the age neglects, as G.K. Chesterton once pointed out," writes Elias Crim from Solidarity Hall. "Such figures restore the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever it has overlooked."

One of these figures was Fr Josemaria Arizmendiarrieta, founder of the Mondragon cooperatives and chaplain to the local Catholic Action movements, including the JOC.

"Amazingly, Mondragon continues to operate today on ten basic cooperative principles: Open Admission, Democratic Organization, the Sovereignty of Labor, Instrumental and Subordinate Nature of Capital, Participatory Management, Payment Solidarity, Inter-cooperation, Social Transformation, Universality and Education," Crim notes. "The average wage differential between employees in the lowest and highest paid positions continues to be 1:5."

As a way of better understanding Fr Arizmendi's Catholic vision and its relevance for our current situation, Solidarity Hall has launched a new English translation of his thought under the title, Reflections.


The Priest at the End of the Search for a Third Way (Church Life Journal)

Book Launch/Reading: Reflections, by Fr. Josemaria Arizmendiarietta (Email registration required)
Review of life: Building social activism and personal formation
IYCS gathering
"The term Review of Life, which is now a fundamental description of the YCS, and the YCW, was a product of the 1960s," writes ACI president and Australian YCS National Adult Support Team chairperson in a reflection for an IYCW Online Global Training Session.. It was a term unknown to the Australian YCW and the Australian YCS in 1965.

"It emerged in a description of YCW methodology at the International Council of the YCW in Bangkok in November and December 1965. It was a major preoccupation of the Montreal International Council of the YCS in 1967. In substance, it was intended to take the see, judge, act approach beyond a meeting methodology into a way of life, which included a life of prayer.

"Michel Quoist’s Prayers of Life was part of this change. Quoist, who had been a JOC chaplain in France showed how the see, judge act approach could extend to personal reflections on life and into prayer. And this fitted into the engagement with the world that Vatican II had inspired."


Brian Lawrence, From the personal to the social (Australian Cardijn Institute)
Cardinal Kevin Farrell praises movements' response to Covid
Cardinal Kevin Farrell
Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the president of the Holy See Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life has praised a statement on responding to Covid by the International Movements of Specialised Catholic Action (MIACS).

The letter, which addressed the theme “From crisis to conversion,” aims “to identify shared objectives and priority action areas that seek to address the many social, economic and human crises, caused by the pandemic,” Cardinal Farrell noted.

“The praiseworthy effort at reflection and sharing that you have made to compose these guidelines deserves to be better and more widely known.

“Your analysis and your proposals, which are the fruit of a realistic and objective Christian perspective on events, have well interpreted and attempted to translate into concrete action the Pope’s thinking regarding the present world crisis. They also echo his urgent appeal for global solidarity, which was forcefully expressed in the encyclical, Fratelli Tutti.

“At a time when everything seems to be disintegrating and losing consistency, it is good for us to appeal to the ‘solidity’ born of the consciousness that we are responsible for the fragility of others as we strive to build a common future. (Fratelli Tutti §115).


Cardinal Farrell praises MIACS Covid response (
Combating People Trafficking: The Video
The video from our See-Judge-Act webinar on Combating People Trafficking with Sr Claire Griffin and ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans), which took place on Tuesday 20 April, is now available.

It includes many action suggestions.


Combating People Trafficking (ACRATH/ACI/YouTube)
Cardinal Edward Cassidy and the IYCW
"It came as a shock when in June 1989, (Vatican official) Archbishop Edward Cassidy signed the official letter on behalf the Holy See in June 1989 withdrawing recognition of the International YCW as an International Catholic Organisation," writes Stefan Gigacz in a blog post recalling his meetings with the Australian-born cardinal, who died earlier this month.

"Only a fortnight earlier, I had been elected as treasurer of the IYCW, a post that I would take up in January 1990. So not only was the Holy See decision a major loss for the movement but, with an Australian involved, it also felt like an almost personal blow."


Stefan Gigacz, Cardinal Edward Cassidy and the IYCW (Cardijn Research)
Enrique Shaw: A business leader inspired by Cardijn
Born in Paris in 1921, Argentine businessman, Enrique Shaw, founded the Christian Association of Argentine Business Leaders as a Specialised Catholic Action movement, following the suggestion of Joseph Cardijn

As a young man, he had joined the Navy but left at the age of 24 when he felt a call to serve God in the world of work, specifically as a worker. However, his spiritual counsellor suggested that he could do more with his abilities as a manager, a field in which he excelled.

In 1943 he married Cecilia Bunge with whom he had nine children. But he died at the young age of 41 in 1962.

“Enrique Shaw was rich, yet saintly,” said Pope Francis, who has declared him Venerable. “A person can have money. God gives it to him so he can administer it well, and this man administered it well. [He did so] not with paternalism, but by fostering the [personal] growth of people who needed help."


Enrique Ernesto Shaw (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)
Faith Workers Alliance launched
Faith Workers Alliance
A new "Faith Workers Alliance" that "supports, represents and empowers faith-based workers" has just launched and is seeking to recruit 100 Foundation Members.

"We are inspired by the long history of workers who have formed unions for mutual support, advocacy and protection. Australia has never had a 'union' for faith workers before," the organisers say. "Some faith workers in Australia, such as those who work in health, education, defence and social services, have been eligible for membership of existing unions, and we encourage them to seek membership of those unions where appropriate.

"The Faith Workers Alliance is a voice for Australian people who work in and for faith organisations, such as churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. We also welcome faith workers who work in other organisations but don't have an existing union membership opportunity. We warmly welcome students who are training to become faith workers, and those who are retired, or who work part-time or in voluntary roles.

"We don't just want to advocate for our own needs. We also dream of uniting faith workers in action for the common good. We believe that faith workers who are appropriately trained, well supported and properly paid are best placed to advocate for the needs of others in their communities and beyond. We hope to build on existing ecumenical and interfaith relationships to advocate for justice and peace."

Members of the FWA Management Committee include Victoria Burrows, who was also previously a director of ACI. Congratulations to the FWA team on this new venture.


Faith Workers Alliance Online Launch (YouTube)


Faith Workers Alliance
Farewell, Aegile Fernandez, Malaysian human rights defender
Aegile Fernandez
Former Malaysian YCW leader, Aegile Fernandez, who was also the co-founder of the human rights NGO, Tenaganita, died on 9 March at the age of 72, Herald Malaysia reports.

Following her elder sister, Irene, Aegile joined the YCW at the age of sixteen, beginning a social commitment that led to her lifetime of work with prisoners, sex workers, drug addicts, HIV/Aids patients, domestic abuse victims, refugees, human trafficking victims, and abused children.

Together, Irene and Aegile co-founded the human rights NGO, Tenaganita, with Aegile taking over as director after Irene's death in 2014.

Farewell human rights defender Aegile Fernandez (

Farewell to ‘fearless fighter’ Irene Fernandez (
Joseph Cardijn 1937
"Jocistes de France, je compte sur vous... en Avant plus que jamais! - Joseph Cardijn "French jocists, I am counting on you... Onward more than ever!" - Joseph Cardijn
French JOC postcard, perhaps dating from the 10th anniversary of the movement in 1937.
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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