ACI Newsletter Dec 21


Dear Friends,

Christmas greetings at the end of another eventful year. We wish you all a restful break before we relaunch our activity in February 2022. However, we leave you with a series of articles and items that will hopefully inspire reflection and inspiration over the summer.

The word of the year in Catholic circles in 2021 was “Synodality”, with “integral” continuing its prominence. Both are intended to break down silos in the Church’s structures and thinking. For both, Cardijn’s movement and the Jocist method remain as relevant as ever. True synodality must be based on a full understanding and application of the goals and principles of the lay apostolate, so championed by Cardijn.

And the Jocist application of the see, judge, act methodology remains as relevant as ever as the means of integral faith formation, a formation that recognises the essential link between the commitment to Jesus Christ and the need for transformation of society in all its dimensions.

2022 will also be a big year, not just for ACI but for the whole Australian Church, as we prepare for the Second Assembly of the Plenary Council. The example of Latin America and the Caribbean's historic "Ecclesial Assembly" of bishops, priests, religious and lay people offers much food for thought here. So too does the example of the Paraguayan Church, which has launched a Year of the Laity, a model that we could perhaps fruitfully follow here in Australia.

We include a reflection by Cardijn's successor as chaplain to the International YCW, Fr Marcel Uylenbroeck, on the Vatican II conception of lay apostolate embedded in the conciliar constitution, Lumen Gentium.

We remember the sacrifice of the Argentinian YCW martyrs, Pepe Palacio, and +Enrique Angelelli, whose partnership in promoting the lay apostolate foreshadows Pope Francis' dream of a synodal Church. We recall the 50th anniversary of Peruvian YCS chaplain's groundbreaking 1971 book, A Theology of Liberation.

And we announce our first webinar of 2022 on the theme "The Campion Society and the development of the lay apostolate in Australia," recalling the pioneering work of those lay apostles of the 1930s.

Meanwhile, we wish you all the peace of Jesus and his family, which in reality was not so peaceful and calm, over the Christmas break.

Stefan Gigacz
Bringing the Good News to people's lives
St Paul at Areopagus
During his recent trip to Greece, Pope Francis met with priests, religious, seminarians and catechists in the Cathedral of St Dionysius in Athens.

Recalling the example of St Paul preaching to philosophers in the Areopagus, Pope Francis noted that an attitude of acceptance is essential to evangelisation.

Such an attitude “does not try to occupy the space and life of others, but to sow the good news in the soil of their lives; it learns to recognize and appreciate the seeds that God already planted in their hearts before we came on the scene.

“Let us remember that God always precedes us, God always sows before we do. Evangelising is not about filling an empty container; it is ultimately about bringing to light what God has already begun to accomplish,” the pope said.


Evangelisation according to Pope Francis (Australian Cardijn Institute)
Video: Australian YCW 80th anniversary webinar
YCW webinar
Former YCW leader, Bill Armstrong, and current Australian YCW president, Marilyn Bellett, shared their experience of the movement during a special webinar commemorating the 80th anniversary of the founding of the movement in 1941.

Bill's contribution provided great insight into the legacy of the integral formation offered by the YCW while Marilyn delivered a scintillating presentation of what the YCW means in the world of today.


80th Anniversary Video (Australian YCW/YouTube)
Gustavo Gutiérrez’s A Theology of Liberation at 50
Gustavo Gutiérrez
Peruvian priest and former YCS chaplain Gustavo Gutiérrez’s 1971 book A Theology of Liberation “forced Christians to hear the voice of God among the world’s suffering and to ask whether the church’s talk of salvation meant anything for their liberation,” writes Michael Lee at National Catholic Reporter in a tribute marking the 50th anniversary of the book’s publication.

“That this book would spawn perhaps the most influential, and most controversial, theological movement in the last half century is a bit of a surprise,” Lee continues.

“The book has no inflammatory passages. It does not call for armed rebellion. Nor does it engage in the kind of polemical attacks that pass for public discourse today.

“Yet, in the way that it offers both a diagnosis of our world’s ills and a vision for the way that the church can help transform them, A Theology of Liberation remains as relevant today as it was half a century ago," Lee concludes.


Gustavo Gutiérrez’s A Theology of Liberation at 50 (Australian Cardijn Institute)
12 pastoral priorities for Latin America's Ecclesial Assembly
Ecclesial Assembly priorities
The historic Ecclesial Assembly for Latin America and the Caribbean, which concluded in Mexico last month, adopted a series of 12 pastoral priorities.

These included
  • Recognising and valuing the initiative of young people in the ecclesial community and society as agents of transformation.
  • Increasing formation in synodality to eradicate clericalism.
  • In the light of the People of God and Vatican II, renew the conception and experience of the Church as People of God, in communion with the richness of its ministeriality, while avoiding clericalism and promoting pastoral conversion.
  • Accompanying victims of social and ecclesial injustices with a process of recognition and reparation.
  • Promoting the participation of lay people in spaces of cultural, political, social and ecclesial transformation.
Lots of food for thought in the lead up the Second Assembly of the Australian Plenary Council.


12 pastoral priorities for Latin America's Ecclesial Assembly (Australian Cardijn Institute)

Ecclesial Assembly, Document for the Journey
Pope Francis and the vision of Vatican II
Fr Arizmendi with vocational school teachers and alu,ni
Writing in the Yarra Theological Union Alumni Digest, Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR, who is retiring as a lecturer at YTU but not from academic life, offered his reflections in a series of imaginary “conversations” with Pope Francis.

"For some years I have been acting as the literary agent in Australia for Pope Francis, and in a recent phone call I was chatting with him about how so many women and men around YTU were inspired by his writings, and trying to revision the mission of the Gospel today. He was delighted to hear this, and wanted to know more about YTU," Fr Bruce began.

"I said YTU readily understood his notion of ‘mission’ as attending to the cry of the poor and of the earth, and involved everyone, especially in their civil vocations and roles. As he has said, the church does not exist for itself, but to serve in the tasks of social as well as personal transformation as the metaphor of Reign of God beckons us.


Bruce Duncan CSsR, Pope Francis and Vatican II vision of Yarra Theological Union (Australian Cardijn Institute/YTU Alumni Digest)
Paraguay launches Year of Laity
Year of the Laity Paraguay
Paraguay’s bishops launched a Year of the Laity on the Feast of Christ the King, Sunday 21 November with a real focus on areas of the lay apostolate.

“In 2022 we invite you to continue like those disciples of Emmaus, who ‘instantly set out to proclaim Christ’ (cf. Lk 24, 33-35). In the light of this Gospel we want to remain open to what the Lord wants to say to us and dedicate a new time of reflection on the being and mission of the laity, who ‘are men and women of the church in the heart of the world and men and women of the world in the heart of the church.’

“We must give priority to evangelisation,” the bishops noted in a statement at the end of their General Assembly. “Furthermore, it is necessary to evangelise the field of politics and politicians, according to the proposal of the Church’s Social Doctrine, so that they love the country and not just their interests”.

Looking at the situation in the country, the bishops called, among other things, for agrarian reform and real dialogue with a concrete and in-depth approach to solving the problems related to land tenure and ownership.

They also noted a “deepening of inequalities” in various sectors and areas, citing in particular education, land rights, health, labor, indigenous peoples and farmers.

“We are in a very difficult context, there is no clear proposal or adequate support for the development of peasant and indigenous family agriculture, an agriculture that provides food to people; rather, large-scale agriculture is preferred for export,” the statement continued.


Paraguay launches Year of Laity (Australian Cardijn Institute)
Pepe & Amalia Palacio and Enrique Angelelli: Synodality in action
Pepe Amalia Enrique
11 December 2021 marked the 46th anniversary of the abduction by security forces of José Serapio "Pepe" Palacio, an Argentinian JOC leader, later a trade unionist and leader of the Workers Catholic Action (MOAC) movement and finally the first lay collaborator of the International YCW.

Two days later, after being tortured, Pepe was killed on 13 December 1975. It would take another 25 years before his wife, Amalia, also a JOC leader, and their sons, would find out the details of what had happened to him.

The abduction took place just a few weeks after Pepe's return from Bogota, Colombia, where he had attended a Workers Meeting organised by the IYCW. And it seems likely that his abduction was linked to that event.

According to research by Pepe's son, José-Luis, he was abducted and killed as part of the US-backed Operation Condor, a campaign of political repression and state terrorism aimed at eliminating worker and community leaders in Latin America.

Eight months later, Blessed +Enrique Angelelli, who had worked with Pepe and Amalia Palacio to found the JOC in the Diocese of Cordoba, was also martyred along with several lay collaborators in the Diocese of La Rioja.

Today, perhaps, we can look at their lives and sacrifices as examples of synodality in action.


Stefan Gigacz, Pepe & Amalia Palacio and Enrique Angelelli: Synodality in action (Cardijn Research)
The laity and Vatican II
Marcel Uylenbroeck
Writing in the IYCW Bulletin in early 1965, Cardijn's successor as chaplain to the International YCW, Fr Marcel Uylenbroeck, welcomed the promulgation of the Vatican II
Dogmatic Constitution “Lumen Gentium” on the Church, including a special chapter on “Laity in the Church.”

"The doctrinal richness of the Constitution is immense and, as a movement of the apostolate of the laity, we must rejoice deeply that the Supreme Authority of the Church has defined the place and the mission of lay people in the Church in such an official way," Uylenbroeck wrote.

"At the same time, it is a call to all YCW leaders and chaplains, whose mission is to animate and train lay leaders, to believe ever more deeply in their vocation and to commit generously to the apostolate among the working youth of the world.

"Let us note first of all the extent to which it insists on the dignity of the laity as members of the People of God and the way they are called to participate in the mission of the Church.

"It is undoubtedly the first time that the Church has emphasised the specific character of the lay apostolate in such an official document. We know how much Cardinal Cardijn has always been an ardent defender of what he calls 'the lay apostolate proper to lay people.'

"If the Council has now emphasised this so clearly, is not it because the 'Message of Cardijn' has gradually made its way in the universal Church?" Fr Uylenbroeck concluded.


Marcel Uylenbroeck, The laity and the Council (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)
The Campion Society and the development of the lay apostolate in Australia
Campion Society
Inspired by the encyclicals Rerum Novarum and later by Quadragesimo Anno, in 1929 a group of Catholic university students from Melbourne launched a study circle they called "The Campion Society" to study and act on the social issues facing Australia.

As the Great Depression took hold over the next decade, the Campion Society members launched or helped launch a wide range of social initiatives, including the YCW, the Australian National Secretariat of Catholic Action, the National Catholic Rural Movement and many others.

In our first ACI webinar of 2022, Colin Jory, author of "The Campion Society and Catholic social militancy in Australia 1929-39" and Richard Doig, author of a doctoral thesis "The National Catholic Rural Movement and a 'New Deal' for Australia: the rise and fall of an agrarian movement 1931-1958", will share their research on these pioneering lay apostolate initiatives.


The Campion Society and the development of the lay apostolate in Australia, Tuesday 15 February 2022, 7pm AEDT.


Richard Doig, The National Catholic Rural Movement and a 'New Deal' for Australia: the rise and fall of an agrarian movement 1931-1958 (Charles Sturt University)
The specifically lay apostolate of the lay person
Fiévez - Religious witness
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