ACI Newsletter – May Day 2020

Dear Friends,

We’re back with a special shorter edition for May Day, which is also the feast of St Joseph the Worker, and we begin with Bishop Vincent Long’s call for social solidarity in this time of Covid-19.

We highlight a letter by Australian Catholic leaders to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling for greater solidarity with those excluded from existing government aid programs.

We feature an article on the IYCW’s International Week of Young Workers as well as an article written by Cardijn for May Day 1952 on the greatness of human work and conclude with a reflection on “labour’s battlefield” and the YCW Prayer.

Finally, please stay tuned for our normal May edition in a couple of weeks.

Stefan Gigacz


Bishop Vincent calls for ‘social solidarity’

In his annual message for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, Bishop Vincent Long OFM. Conv. of Parramatta, the chairman of the Australian Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service, has called for “social solidarity in a time of social distancing.”

“Our hearts go out to everyone who is out of work; to those whose businesses have been forced to close; and to those whose regular income has plummeted while their bills remain,” he said.

“Surviving on the JobSeeker payment, or any other form of government assistance, is difficult. However, there are also many people who are unable to access this support and are at risk of falling through the cracks,” Bishop Long warned, noting the precarious situation facing asylum-seekers, international students and those on temporary protection visas.

Excluding them from government assistance is “inhumane and unworthy of a decent society,” he added.


Bishop Vincent’s Message for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker (Australian Cardijn Institute)

ACI joins solidarity call

ACI chairman, Brian Lawrence, has joined a historic group of Australian Catholics including several bishops, Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) and the CEOs of several major Catholic health and social services providers in writing to Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, raising serious concerns for two groups of people that remain on the margins of our community and vulnerable to both the predations of the COVID-19 virus and the despair that comes with it.

“We ask that everyone in the Australian community who is in hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including people seeking protection, be given temporary access to a financial safety net, Medicare, and adequate shelter if they are homeless,” the letter says.

“We ask the Federal Government to remember its responsibility for ensuring safety and human rights of everyone residing within its jurisdiction, even temporarily. In the same way, we hope that foreign governments will be mindful of the needs of Australians stranded abroad at this time,” the letter continues.


ACI asks PM to ensure no-one left behind in Covid crisis (Australian Cardijn Institute) 

International Week of Young Workers 2020

As it has done since the 1980s, the International YCW is this week celebrating the International Week of Young Workers, which has its origins with the Brazilian YCW which first celebrated the National Week of Young Workers in 1970.

The IYCW adopted it as an international event in 1983. This year, however, the movement is celebrating the week as a virtual event.

Former IYCW chaplain, Bishop Reginaldo Andrietta of Jales, Brazil, has written a special prayer for the event.


International Week of Young Workers (International YCW) 

The greatness of human work: Cardijn

Labour “marks a glorious step on the path towards truly human and liberating progress,” wrote Joseph Cardijn in a article for May Day 1952.

“It will be a festival that will honour, respect and magnify human work but not as a god to whom people and families are sacrificed. Instead, labour will be recognised, appreciated and understood as the necessary means to liberate people, families and the whole human race.

“Labour Day is just one step in this long march forward towards recognition and appreciation of the greatness and importance of human work, as humble and as strenuous as it may be,” he wrote.


Labour Day 1952 ( 

Reflection: Labour’s battlefield

“May the soul of every worker who died on labour’s battlefield rest in peace!” reads the YCW Prayer.

Nor was it an exaggeration to speak of “labour’s battlefield” as a September 1926 article in the YCW newspaper, La Jeunesse Ouvrière makes clear.

Entitled “Le Travail Meurtrier” or “Murderous Work,” the article, probably written by Fernand Tonnet, cites a recent edition of a Belgian newspaper in which he noted eight work accidents


Labour’s battlefield (Australian Cardijn Institute)

YCW Prayers (