Towards a Christian Worker Movement?

Paul McGuire

Having joined the YCW as a student at age 14 in 1960 and having worked full time for the YCS national office in 1968-9, I have had an interest in the history of both and, from time to time, use Trove to look up some aspect of their history.

I recently found a reference in the index of YCW archives which referred to records dating from 1944 regarding a credit union in Glenhuntly being operated by the National Christian Workers Movement (NCWM).  I had no recollection of this organisation so I turned to Trove.

[Search tip: search “National Christian Workers Movement or NCWM and use Advance Search option to exclude “Young”, otherwise you will be inundated with YCW entries.]

A good starting point in telling the story of the NCWM is a piece by Edmund Campion drawing on his book ‘Australian Catholics’ (Viking 1987) which is published at

The Australian National Secretariat of Catholic Action (ANSCA) was established in Melbourne in 1937 by the Australian bishops for the purpose of developing specialised movements on the Jocist model.

The Advocate (in Melbourne) had an article on 3 February 1938 under the heading “Formation for Catholic Action”.  An insert introduced the article:

“The National Secretariat of Catholic Action which has been set up in Melbourne inaugurates a work of far-reaching importance for Australia. It will be conducted by laymen, but their efforts will be fruitless without the direction and cooperation of the priest. What is the function of the priest in the lay apostolate? In this article, Fr. Kothen, Assistant Chief of the Jocist movement, which has been enthusiastically praised by the Pope, defines the part of the priest in the formation of militants.”

Fr Kothen’s article commences:

“One day I asked Canon Cardijn to tell me exactly what is the role of the priest in the Young Christian Workers’ Movement, and he replied: “The priest is everything and he is nothing.”

Campion writes:

“In looking at the origins of Catholic Action Australia, we must remember Kevin T. Kelly, who corresponded with Cardijn and in 1939 published a pamphlet on the YCW (Jocists) that sold 15,000 copies in 6 months. In the same year, Paul McGuire and English priest John Fitzsimons published a book.’Restoring All Things’ – the first major English language publication on Jocism.”

The role of Paul McGuire

The reference to Paul McGuire (see photos above and below) is significant.  The earliest reference that I found in Trove to “Christian Workers Movement” was to the following in The Advertiser of 1 August 1938, under the headings “Sweeping Social Move in Europe” and “Adelaide Author Finds Workers’ Ideal”:

“The amazing development of a most significant social movement in Europe — the Christian Workers’ Movement — was described by Mr Paul McGuire, the Australian author and lecturer, on his return to Adelaide by the Mooltanon Saturday after an extensive 15 months’ tour abroad lecturing and studying social conditions — and writing detective novels in his spare time.”

Paul McGuire Paul McGuire / State Library of South Australia

Paul McGuire’s impressive entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography is at

Clearly, ANSCA was looking at adult movements to be formed along Jocist lines (as it did with the the National Catholic Rural Movement), but there is limited reference in the Trove documents to the connection between it and the National Christian Workers Movement (NCWM).

The National Christian Workers’ Movement

The earliest report regarding the NCWM that I found was in The Advocate in September 1941 reporting that the Coburg branch of the NCWM had started a credit union; see

Two years later it reported that the Coburg branch of the NCWM had sponsored school sports for the seven Mercy schools in Brunswick and Coburg;

The promotion of credit unions was a major activity of the NCWM.  An article in The Advocate of 6 December 1944 reported that there were five credit unions operating in the archdiocese.  The report was based on the annual report of the NCWM given by K.W. Mitchell, an officer at ANSCA:

On the same page of The Advocate of 6 December 1944 is a report of a “Joint Conference of Workers and Employers” held by the NCWM and the League of St. Thomas More.  The report was introduced by the following:

“A remarkable and unusual conference took place in St Ignatius’ Hall, Richmond, on Sunday evening, November 26, when two Catholic organisations—one of employers, business and professional men; the other of workers—met in a combined session to affirm their loyalty to the Church’s programme of Social Justice, and their belief in the possibility of reconstruction through the collaboration of labour and management in Industry and Commerce. His Grace the Archbishop, Most Rev. D. Mannix, D.D., in the final address of the conference, praised the two organisations for the splendid spirit they had shown and expressed his hope that the collaboration thus demonstrated would become even more widespread and fruitful in the future.”

The article included:

“Mr. K. W. Mitchell then read a report of the activities of the N.C.W.M., which appears later.

Mr. F. K. Maher spoke of the work of the League and of practical measures it had in hand.”

Mr Maher, like Mr Mitchell, was an officer of ANSCA.

Frank Maher was a lecturer in the Melbourne University Law School when I started law in 1964, but I had no idea then of his background in Church affairs. He was very well regarded by the students. (You can see his legal publications by searching “F K H Maher”.) When I was working for the YCS in 1968-9 I came across the minutes of the first meetings during the 1940s of the bishops’ advisory committee for establishing the YCS as a national body. The meetings were attended by both Mitchell and Maher and, among others, Fr James Gleeson, later Archbishop of Adelaide, and Bob Santamaria.

We should keep in mind that these were the war years and that much of the focus of the ANSCA was post-war development, a matter made clear from the early days of the war with the publication of the Bishops’ Social Justice Statement of 1941, Justice Now!.

The Trove searches suggest that the Richmond branch, based on St Ignatius where the joint conference had been organised in 1944, was the most active NCWM branch with 220 members.  Among its activities was the construction of a Trade School for the training of boys, at a cost of £1,200 and leaving it with a very large debt of £1,000. The article is worth a read:

Part of the article reads:

“The National Christian Workers’ Movement is a Catholic Action organisation, binding together all adult workers in one movement. It is a workers’ movement—it is run by workers—it is for the workers. It has nothing to do with’ an alleged body called “The Movement,” said to be working in trade unions, according to recent Communist propaganda.”


As much as the NCWM may have wished to steer clear of politics and the fights for the control of unions, the course of politics and Church and quasi-Church activities would have precluded any such independence.  The Richmond branch of the Labor Party, with many Catholic members, was a key player in the events leading to The Split in the mid-1950s, which had long term adverse consequences for both the Catholic Church and the Labor Party.

Newspaper reports of the NCWM disappear by the Split in the mid-1950s.  The ongoing contribution of the NCWM appears to have been the Cana conferences and credit unions.

How the NCWM related to the emerging YCW in the 1940s would be an interesting field of inquiry.  The relationship between Fr Lombard, the first Chaplain of the YCW was no fan of ANSCA.  Fr Bruce Duncan has written that by 1941 “the strong-willed Lombard was unwilling to have YCW come under the control of ANSCA or to follow its direction”;

The need for an adult jocist movement

Joseph Cardijn and many others worked towards an adult Jocist movement for and by workers.  In Australia it failed even though the Australian YCW became one of the strongest YCW movements in the world.  The Christian Family Movement, which emerged in the 1960s (and disappeared in the 1970s) was a Jocist-based organisation, involving a number of former YCW and YCS members, but it did not have a distinctly worker character

Internationally, the World Movement of Christian Workers is the non-youth movement most connected with the Jocist tradition; see

The World Movement of Christian Workers has a distinctly working class orientation.  “Its member organizations promote the interests of all those who rely upon their work or for their income, whether formally or informally.”  It does not have an Australian affiliate.

The WMCW has its origins in May 1961 when delegates from 42 movements met in Rome on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the encyclical Rerum Novarum. The International YCW was one of those movements.

Brian Lawrence

Adult apostolate

Finding archival treasure with Trove

Trove website

If you haven’t done so, I recommend that you visit the National Library’s Trove website at

Its principal interest for me is its digitised newspapers stretching back to the earliest newspapers across Australia, but there are many other kinds of documents, printed, sound and film.   It is a great resource for family history, but that is only a small part of its value.

The digitisation of newspapers has opened a new world for those who are interested political, social and economic aspects of Australian history.  However, there is, at this point in time, little use of the data.

The data on Trove present a new world for the teaching of Australian history.  Gone are the days when you had to turn pages of bound copies of newspapers in some hard to access place to find what you have been looking for; and then having little or no chance to make a copy.  Perhaps more will discover Trove while in lockdown.

The role of Cardinal Moran

I also have an interest in the history of the Irish and, it follows, Catholics in Australia.  And, again it follows, anything to do with both in politics and the labour movement.  I grew up in Melbourne where Archbishop Mannix had been the stand-out Irish Catholic leader since the First World War and unaware of the impact that Cardinal Moran had in Sydney and beyond in the decades before Mannix.

I discovered the full text of Cardinal Moran’s address on the Rights and Duties of Labour given in August 1891, three months after Rerum Novarum, and delivered in the New Masonic Hall in Sydney (yes, the location is correct).  The vote of thanks was moved by Edmund Barton and seconded by Richard O’Connor, both very significant players in the march to federation, with the former becoming Australia’s first Prime Minister and then a judge of the High Court and the latter becoming a senator in the first Australian Parliament and then a judge of the High Court.  You can access the 7,000 word report of Cardinal Moran’s address and the vote of thanks at

Another interesting and intriguing address by Cardinal Moran was given at the Communion Breakfast of the Irish National Foresters in 1904 where he paints a very glowing picture of life in Ireland at the end of the nineteenth century, a century that started when “the great majority of the people of Ireland were serfs in their own land” and “treated as slaves”;

Cardinal Moran saw the Australian experience of Catholics and Protestants, of Irish and English, working together for common causes as a model for a future united Ireland, capable, like Australia, of remaining within the British Empire.  Whether or not it was realistic at that time, it proved to untenable after the brutal British response to the Easter Rising in 1916.

Brian Lawrence

Cardinal Patrick Moran

Consider ‘universal basic wage’: Pope

Pope Francis

In a 12 April 2020 letter to the World Meeting of Popular Movements, Pope Francis has called for consideration of a “universal basic wage” as a means to respond to the economic disruption caused by Covid-19.

“Dear Friends,” Pope Francis writes, “I often recall our previous meetings: two at the Vatican and one in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and I must tell you that this ‘souvenir’ warms my heart.

“I think of all the beautiful projects that emerged from those conversations and took shape and have become reality.

“In these days of great anxiety and hardship, many have used war-like metaphors to refer to the pandemic we are experiencing. If the struggle against COVID-19 is a war, then you are truly an invisible army, fighting in the most dangerous trenches; an army whose only weapons are solidarity, hope, and community spirit, all revitalizing at a time when no one can save themselves alone.

“As I told you in our meetings, to me you are social poets because, from the forgotten peripheries where you live, you create admirable solutions for the most pressing problems afflicting the marginalized.

“I know that you nearly never receive the recognition that you deserve, because you are truly invisible to the system. Market solutions do not reach the peripheries, and State protection is hardly visible there.

“Nor do you have the resources to substitute for its functioning. You are looked upon with suspicion when through community organization you try to move beyond philanthropy or when, instead of resigning and hoping to catch some crumbs that fall from the table of economic power, you claim your rights.

“You often feel rage and powerlessness at the sight of persistent inequalities and when any excuse at all is sufficient for maintaining those privileges. Nevertheless, you do not resign yourselves to complaining: you roll up your sleeves and keep working.

“I think of all the people, especially women, who multiply loaves of bread in soup kitchens: two onions and a package of rice make up a delicious stew for hundreds of children. I think of the sick, I think of the elderly. They never appear in the news, nor do small farmers and their families who work hard to produce healthy food without destroying nature, without hoarding, without exploiting people’s needs.

“I want you to know that our Heavenly Father watches over you, values you, appreciates you, and supports you in your commitment.

“My hope is that governments understand that technocratic paradigms (whether state-centred or market-driven) are not enough to address this crisis or the other great problems affecting humankind. Now more than ever, persons, communities and peoples must be put at the centre, united to heal, to care and to share.

“I know that you have been excluded from the benefits of globalization. You do not enjoy the superficial pleasures that anesthetize so many consciences, yet you always suffer from the harm they produce. The ills that afflict everyone hit you twice as hard.

“Many of you live from day to day, without any type of legal guarantee to protect you. Street vendors, recyclers, carnies, small farmers, construction workers, dressmakers, the different kinds of caregivers: you who are informal, working on your own or in the grassroots economy, you have no steady income to get you through this hard time … and the lockdowns are becoming unbearable.

“This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out. It would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights.

Moreover, I urge you to reflect on “life after the pandemic,” for while this storm shall pass, its grave consequences are already being felt. You are not helpless. You have the culture, the method, and most of all, the wisdom that are kneaded with the leaven of feeling the suffering of others as your own. I want all of us to think about the project of integral human development that we long for and that is based on the central role and initiative of the people in all their diversity, as well as on universal access to those three Ts that you defend: Trabajo (work), Techo (housing), and Tierra (land and food) .

“I hope that this time of danger will free us from operating on automatic pilot, shake our sleepy consciences and allow a humanist and ecological conversion that puts an end to the idolatry of money and places human life and dignity at the centre.

“Our civilization — so competitive, so individualistic, with its frenetic rhythms of production and consumption, its extravagant luxuries, its disproportionate profits for just a few — needs to downshift, take stock, and renew itself.

You are the indispensable builders of this change that can no longer be put off. Moreover, when you testify that to change is possible, your voice is authoritative. You have known crises and hardships … that you manage to transform — with modesty, dignity, commitment, hard work and solidarity — into a promise of life for your families and your communities,” Pope Francis concluded.

ACI has been considering the possibility of researching some of these issues, particularly evident in poorer countries and in the gig economy within all countries, in conjunction with the Vatican-based Future of Work: Labour After Laudato Si’ project (see website at

Brian Lawrence new ACI Chair

Brian Lawrence

The former Chairman of the Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations, Brian Lawrence, has accepted a new appointment as Chair of the Australian Cardijn Institute Cooperative Ltd (ACI).

Mr Lawrence has said that he accepted the appointment because the “Australian Cardijn Institute is a strong supporter of the Church’s social ministry and the principles of lay formation adopted by the Second Vatican Council”.  He added “A necessary step in shaping the future of Church in Australia is understanding what the universal Church said five decades ago about the role of lay people within society and within the Church.”

On a personal level, Mr Lawrence recalled that he joined the Young Christian Workers, which was co-founded by Father Joseph Cardijn, in 1960 and was inspired by the then Cardinal Joseph Cardijn during his visit to Melbourne in 1966.  “Cardijn and the Vatican Council shaped my view of Catholicism in the 1960s and I am convinced of the relevance and importance of both in 2020”.

In his recently published paper reviewing the Catholic Social Ministry Conference held at Catholic Theological College, Melbourne, in November 2019, Mr Lawrence argued that the Church needs to rediscover the mission of social engagement and lay formation promulgated by Vatican II.  His paper, which is now on the ACI website, argues that the Church’s social ministry and the development of lay formation are inextricably linked.

Mr Lawrence called on the Australian Catholic Plenary Council to focus more deeply on “the Church’s social mission and the reforms that are needed to promote the lay apostolate and the Church’s social ministry”.

Mr Lawrence has proposed three practical steps to promote the Church’s social ministry and lay formation.  First, he recommended that every deanery in Australia should establish a Catholic Social Ministry Council which would support the Church’s social ministry, provide education in Catholic Social Teaching, develop the resources needed for lay formation and encourage and support parish-based initiatives.

Second, in order for the Church’s social mission, he proposed that a Catholic Conference be established in each State to provide public advocacy in support of the Church’s social mission and provide support and resources for local Catholic Social Ministry Councils.

Third, he proposed that a National Council of the Laity be established to promote  lay formation in accordance with the objectives and principles of the Second Vatican Council.

Mr Lawrence added that an immediate task of the ACI will continue to be agitating for these kinds of reforms within the Church, but that its longer term task is to fulfil its objective when established in 2018: undertaking research and developing training resources for the promotion of the lay apostolate and the Church’s social ministry.

Outgoing ACI Chair, Kevin Vaughan welcomed Mr Lawrence’s appointment. He noted that YCW founder, Joseph Cardijn had long insisted on the need for an adult lay apostolic movement.  “ACI is well placed to contribute to this task,” he said.


Brian Lawrence, Promoting Catholic Social Ministry and the Lay Apostolate: Proposals for the Plenary

Catholic Social Ministry Conference 2019


Mass for Fernand Tonnet and Paul Garcet

Fernand Tonnet

For all people involved in what was called the “Lay Apostolate”   ( we now have many other names , describing people’s response to their Baptismal calling, )  and in particular  for people formed for action by the NCGM / YCW / YCS, two dates in the next few weeks are of historic importance  .

Paul Garcet   January 23 , and Fernand Tonnet, February 2 , co founders of the YCW with Joseph Cardinal  Cardijn  are to be remembered at a special Mass in St Therese’s Church, Kennington, Victoria.

The Mass will be celebrated on Sunday February 2 at 10.30am.

Paul and Fernand were both arrested as indeed was Cardijn  during WW2, for their Christian Action.  Cardijn was eventually released, Paul and Fernand were sent to Dachau, suffered for their witness even in the camp and died  on the above dates.

2O20 is the 75th anniversary of their deaths. Work is underway to consider a proposed beatification process.  You are invited to attend, remember and Celebrate their contribution to the life of our Church.

Mgr Frank Marriott


Visit by Fr Mike Deeb OP

Fr Mike Deeb OP

Our first international visitor this year will be Fr Mike Deeb O.P., a former YCS chaplain in South Africa and also former chaplain to the International YCS and International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS).

Fr Mike is now working for the Dominican Congregation as their General Promoter of Justice and Peace and their Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Join us for an informal mass and coffee at Catholic Theological College, Melbourne on Thursday 23 January from 2.30-4.00pm.

Please call Stefan Gigacz 0491 077 033 or email to confirm your participation so we can arrange coffee.

More about Fr Mike here:

Download poster here:

Mike Deeb poster

Highett YCW project

YCW Athletics Flyer

It is rare for local YCW branch records to come to light. Kevin Ryan’s records of St Agnes Parish Highett include minutes of 1960s meetings, letters from members in New Guinea, records of activities such as the YCW campaign to rebuild houses burnt after a bushfire, and organisation of YCW athletic carnivals.

ACI commissioned an archivist report on cataloguing, and digitisation of those documents that are either fragile or would be of general interest (such as ‘The Friday Evening Post’ and ‘The Highett Whisper’) if published on-line, and also to canvass future secure storage options for Kevin’s consideration.

Highett was an influential branch of the Australian YCW, producing leaders who subsequently made significant contributions within credit, land and trade co-operatives, trades unions, social movements (such as the road safety campaign, and the community legal services movement), business, and sport, and also within the church.

There is also interest in production of a short history based on these records and interviews. These might stimulate reflection by veterans on this formative part of their lives, and strengthen their continuing bonds.

A history would also contribute to an understanding of the place of the YCW in society and church. It might also inspire other branches to launch a similar exercise.

For the present generation of YCW leaders a history might provide insights into former methods, and provide some inspiration in this rebuilding phase.

The successful grant applicants will be announced in July.

Image credits: Kevin Ryan archives

YCW Athletics

Fernand Tonnet and Paul Garcet – 75 years

Paul Garcet and Fernand Tonnet

This month the world will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation by the Soviet Red Army of the infamous Auschwitz Concentration Camp on 27 January 1945.

Sadly, it was too late for many of its inmates as well as too late for many in other similar camps, including the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany, where YCW co-founders, Fernand Tonnet and Paul Garcet died on 2 February and 23 January 1945 respectively.

Read more about their story here:

Fernand Tonnet and Paul Garcet – 75 years (Cardijn Research)


Remembering Georges Guérin

Jacques Hanon with Jo and Denise Weber

Stefan Gigacz visited France in October to take part in a conference on the theme Fr Guérin and the YCW, Yesterday and Today.

Held in Toul, near Nancy in eastern France, on 5-6 October, the conference focused on the role of Fr Georges Guérin, the founder-chaplain of the French JOC (YCW).

Stefan’s paper was entitled “Cardijn, Guérin and the Jocist Network at Vatican II” and it is available here (French only at this stage).

Géorges Guérin and Joseph Cardijn 1930s Géorges Guérin and Joseph Cardijn 1930s

Board changes

Greg Lopez

We would like to thank Vicky Burrows and Jacques Boulet who were members of the first ACI Board of Directors but who have both now resigned owing to other commitments.

We are also pleased to welcome Dr Gregore Lopez, a lecturer at the Murdoch University Executive Education Centre in Perth, as a new member of the Board. Greg was involved in the YCS in Malaysia as well as in the Cardijn Community International and Young People for Development network.

Cardijn Anniversary Mass

Cardijn Mass

Over 50 people gathered at Mary MacKillop Church, Ballajura in the northern suburbs of Perth on Wednesday 13 November to celebrate the 137th birth anniversary of YCW founder, Joseph Cardijn.

Hosted by ACI together with the Perth YCW and Cardijn Community, Fr John Jegorow and Fr Geoff Aldous, both longtime YCW and YCS chaplains, concelebrated the mass.

Former YCW and YCS leaders

L to R: Marya Stewart, Fr Geoff Aldous and Sophie Stewart
L to R: Kashia, Travis D’Souza and Jermaine Beins (Perth YCW)

First AGM

Catholic Theological College

ACI held its first Annual General Meeting at Catholic Theological College, Melbourne on Saturday 24 August 2019.

Secretary Stefan Gigacz reported on the activities for the first year of ACI’s operation, including two study circle sessions, the Cardijn Online project to publish Cardijn’s speeches and writings on the web.

He noted that ACI had made a submission to the Australian Plenary Council of the Catholic Church on the need to focus on developing the lay apostolate.

He reported that a Perth ACI committe has also been created and a local centre opened at The Platform in the Perth CBD for one day per week.

Treasurer Michael Rice reported an operating surplus for the first year of $828.

David Moloney reported that Race Mathews had donated a collection of books related to Cardijn and the YCW to the ACI library project. The meeting formally thanked Race for the gift.

Other board members and meeting participants reported on Cardijn-related activities in the various states, including review of life activities in Perth and Adelaide, the sale of the YCW house in Brisbane and the social services and economic participation activities of the O’Sullivan Centre.

Des Ryan highlighted the need for developing a major fundraising program for ACI. The meeting appointed Des and Michael Rice to develop a business plan to achieve this.

Brian Lawrence pointed to the need to address changes in the world of work. Kevin Vaughan suggested that an enquiry on work in the modern world could be developed. The meeting resolved to take up the issue of “the future of work” as a focus of ACI activity.

Race Mathews suggested that ACI could look at inviting a researcher from the Cardijn-inspired Mondragon cooperatives in Spain to visit Australia to promote the development of worker coops here. This proposal was also adopted.

Stefan Gigacz reported that his PhD thesis “The Leaven in the Council” was being readied for publication. The meeting resolved to develop a crowdfunding project to finance the publication.

Bishop Angelelli beatified

Bishop Angelelli marches

A former JOC chaplain, Bishop Enrique Angelelli, and three companions, Franciscan Fr Carlos Murias, French priest Fr Gabriel Longueville, and lay catechist Wenceslao Pedernera, who were all martyred by the military during Argentina’s military dictatorship, were beatified in April this year.

Bishop Angelelli co-founded the JOC in the Diocese of Cordoba in the late 1940 with Jose Serapio “Pepe” Palacio, later the first lay collaborator for the IYCW. In fact, Pepe Palacio was also martyred six months before Bishop Angelelli, when he “disappeared” in December 1975 as part of Operation Condor, the CIA program to eliminate activists and trade unionists in Latin America.

Read more:

Angelelli, first martyr of Vatican II (La Croix International)

Enrique Angelelli (Cardijn Priests)

Pepe Palacio (Cardijn Pioneers)

ACI Perth centre opens

Purpose Studio

ACI has now opened its first physical centre leasing space initially for one day per week at Purpose Studio, 3rd Floor, 256 Adelaide Terrace, Perth.

ACI secretary, Stefan Gigacz, will develop a weekly presence there.

Stay tuned for news of our first events.

2019-07-24-2 2019-07-24-1-1

The jocist bishops and the Church of the Poor bishops

Bob Pennington with Stefan Gigacz

ACI secretary, Stefan Gigacz, presented a paper entitled “The jocist bishops and the Vatican II Church of the Poor group” at the Option for the Poor: Engaging the Social Tradition conference organised by the Center for Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame, USA, on 23 March 2019.

Also presenting was Bob Pennington from Mount St Joseph University, Cincinnati, Ohio, who presented a paper entitled ““The Methodological Turn toward a Preferential Option for the Poor: The Cardinal Cardijn Canon from Rome to Latin America and Back Again?”

Keynote speakers at the conference included Gustavo Gutierrez, pioneer of liberation theology.




Stefan Gigacz’s presentation

From Vatican II to the Synod on Young People

Vatican II Session

“’Twelve bishops gathered with Cardinal Pierre-Marie Gerlier for the first meeting,’ reads a contemporary report on the origins of group of bishops at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) that took as its motto, ‘Jesus Christ, the Church and the Poor.'” writes Stefan Gigacz at La Croix International.
“These prelates ‘reviewed their lives and their thinking, as well as that of their churches and the Church, on the issues raised for them by the poor and the workers, and more radically by Jesus of Nazareth, the Carpenter,’ the report continues.

“Best remembered for the ‘Pact of the Catacombs‘ they later adopted, these bishops wanted to ensure that the Council tackled the ‘anguishing’ issues of poverty, the working class and world development.

“Convened by Bishop Charles-Marie Himmer of Tournai, Belgium and Bishop George Hakim of Galilee (later Patriarch Maximos V), the group first met on Oct. 26, 1962 at the Belgian College in Rome. Cardinal Pierre-Marie Gerlier of Lyon was the group’s president.

“Inspired by Pope John XXIII’s phrase ‘the Church of the Poor,’ members saw themselves operating ‘as an extension of’ John’s 1961 social encyclical, Mater et Magistra (Church as Mother and Teacher of All Nations), following the see-judge-act method pioneered and popularized by Joseph Cardijn.


From the Vatican II ‘Church of the Poor’ group to the Synod meet on young people (La Croix International)


Second Vatican Council. (Photo by Lothar Wolleh/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Cardijn shaped Pope Francis’ destiny

Cardijn with young workers

“Fans of Vatican-themed intrigue undoubtedly would say that the Belgian cardinal with the greatest direct influence on Pope Francis has to be Godfried Danneels of Brussels, a member of the so-called “St. Gallen Group” of left-leaning Princes of the Church who, reportedly, tried to block the election of Benedict XVI in 2005, and remnants of which later allegedly helped propel Francis to the papacy,” writes John L. Allen Jr.

“More sober observers, however, probably would insist that the real answer actually is Belgian Cardinal Joseph Leo Cardijn, the famed pioneer of the “See-Judge-Act” method in applying Catholic social teaching, the 51st anniversary of whose death falls today.

The bond between Francis and Cardijn runs, in part, through St. Alberto Hurtado, a revered Chilean Jesuit deeply familiar to the future pope, since then-Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio spent a year in 1960 living in the same house of studies outside Santiago where Hurtado lived and worked for much of his career.”


Recalling the Belgian cardinal who truly shaped Francis’s destiny (Crux)
Un cardenal que marcó el destino de Francisco (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú)