Webinar: John XXIII & Pacem in Terris 1963 – 2023

Catholic Social Teaching specialist, Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR, will present the July ACI webinar on “John XXIII and Pacem in Terris 1963 – 2023” marking the 60th anniversary of the publication of the encyclical.

He will explore the astonishing parallels between Paul John XXIII trying to defuse the Cold War and Pope Francis’s efforts to end the conflict over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Pope John published Pacem in terris (lit. ’Peace on Earth’) on 11 April 1963 just two months before his death.

The encyclical sets out the rights and obligations of people and their states, as well as proper interstate relations. It emphasises human dignity and human equality in endorsing women’s rights, nuclear nonproliferation and the United Nations.

Coming just six months after six months after the Cuban Missile Crisis and in the middle of the holding of the Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council, the encyclical made a great impact at the time and has continued to resonate.

Biographer Peter Hebblethwaite characterised it as John’s “last will and testament” while the pope himself described it as his Easter gift following its publication on Holy Thursday 1963.

Bruce Duncan

Bruce Duncan was ordained a Redemptorist priest in 1971. He studied economics and political science at the University of Sydney so he could pursue his deep interest in Social Justice. During this time he was one of the founding editors of National Outlook magazine.

He was a member of the Melbourne Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace (1994-2007), and a consultant with Catholic Social Services Victoria (1998-2007).

Beginning in 1986, he taught at Yarra Theological Union and coordinated the program in social justice studies until his retirement in 2021.

He was also one of the founders of the advocacy organisation, Social Policy Connections, and of the Yarra Institute for Religion and Social Policy.

Webinar details

Tuesday 11 July 2023, 7.30pm AEST

Register here:


Video: John Médaille on Cardijn’s Hour of the Working Class

American Catholic Social Teaching specialist, John Médaille, shared his reflections on the issues and questions raised by Cardijn at our February 2023 ACI webinar.

Read more

Joseph Cardijn, The hour of the working class (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Books by John Médaille

Toward a Truly Free Market: A Distributist Perspective on the Role of Government, Taxes, Health Care, Deficits, and More

The Vocation of Business: Social Justice in the Marketplace

John Médaille’s lectures on Catholic Social Teaching


Faith in our struggle: South African YCS leaders against apartheid

Former South African YCS leader, Peter Sadie, is publishing his autobiography entitled “Faith in our struggle: A memoir of hope.”

He recounts his personal story as well as that of the South African YCS in this interview with Polity magazine:

“His story vividly illustrates how he grew up from a naïve, yet loving childhood, through the fires of divorce, deaths and broken political promises fracturing trust,” write Aluta Continua in Polity.

“Can lives inspired by faith restore compassion with the poor and act again to respond to their suffering?  Could this be a time of Kairos in our country’s growth to a more ‘critical loyalty’: from the innocence of our freedom in 1994, through the wasted years of state-capture, to the resurrection of a more mature political reorder?”


Faith in our Struggle: A Memoir of Hope – Peter Sadie (Polity)

Therese of Lisieux at 150

Therese of Lisieux

Next year will mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of YCW patron saint, Therese of Lisieux, who was born on 2 January 1873.

UNESCO is commemorating her life following a proposal by France with support from Belgium and Italy made at the suggestion of the Shrine of Lisieux.

In presenting Thérèse de Lisieux to the UNESCO Executive Council on 25 March 2021, the French government wrote:

“Thérèse of Lisieux was a nun who died at the age of 24 and is best known for her posthumous publications, including Histoire d’une âme. This celebration will contribute to bringing greater visibility and justice to women who have promoted the values of peace through their actions.

Given the fame of Thérèse of Lisieux in the Catholic community (the city of Lisieux being the second most popular place of pilgrimage in France after Lourdes), the celebration of her birthday can be an opportunity to highlight the role of women within religions in the fight against poverty and the promotion of inclusion, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 and 161.

It can also reinforce UNESCO’s message on the importance of culture (poems and written plays) in promoting universal values and as a vehicle for inter-religious dialogue.”

YCW patron saint

It was Pope Pius XI who proposed Therese as patron saint for the YCW and indeed for all Catholic Action movements during a YCW pilgrimage to Rome in 1929.

Cardijn recorded the event as follows:

By giving us the souvenir medal of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, the pope wanted to tell us that he had specially chosen her since she is the patroness of missionaries and that he regards us missionaries, the missionaries of the interior, the missionaries of work, and he emphasised that he considered our mission of the interior as important as the missions of the exterior.

What praise and what a responsibility!

We swore before the Pope to re-Christianise workplaces and to win back all our companions to Jesus Christ and the Church.


Therese of Lisieux (Wikipedia)

Therese of Lisieux, a woman of culture, education and peace (Shrine of Lisieux)

Saint Therese of Lisieux: A Gateway

Book & Webinar: Bill Armstrong: “Everything and Nothing: Life and development work”

Former YCW leader, Bill Armstrong, will speak about his experience with the movement and in the international development field in our next ACI webinar on Tuesday 13 December.

He will also introduce a new book on his life, “Everything and Nothing: Life and Development Work” by Peter Britton.

“Peter Britton’s telling of the story of Bill Armstrong and his passionate belief in ‘not about us without us’ is a central part of his personal philosophy, a phrase, which, paradoxically, does not appear in the book,” writes Patrick Kilby in a review of the biography in Development in Practice magazine.

“It certainly comes through, though, as well as it being about good development practice.

“My interest in this story is in the 1960s and 1970s when Bill played a major role in two institutions that grounded a lot of development practice and participatory development philosophy: Action for World Development (AWD) and Australian Volunteers Abroad (AVA).

“Both, in their own way, challenged the paternalist and colonial views of global development at the time. This was a period of intense critique of colonialism and global development: including Franz Fanon (1965), among many others. In terms of development practice, Arnstein (1969), in her highly critical assessment of urban planning for African American communities in Chicago, and the work of Freire (1970), and Illich (1971), on radical approaches to adult education, were major sources of inspiration at the time, and for Bill, it was also the work of Cardijn (1965/2018) and the Young Christian Worker movement.

“All of these writings pointed to a different way of seeing the Global South and ways of engaging together.”


Patrick Kilby, Development in Practice. Volume 32, 2022 – Issue 8


Bill Armstrong: “Everything and Nothing: Life and Development Work”

Tuesday 13 December, 7pm AEDT




RIP Peter Maher

This month we remember Sydney priest, Fr Peter Maher, who died of cancer on 8 November 2022.

I first met Peter at a Cardijn Conference held at the old Manly seminary in Sydney in 1987 and he remained a convinced Cardijn priest for the rest of his life.

“The Cardijn method of see judge and act is essential to a deep listening, a competent dialogue and a compassionate and just course of action,” he once said. “This means all involved need to carefully listen to the experience of those normally excluded or silenced, study the biblical, social and theological perspectives and discern action in favour of the experience of the erased and silenced.

“Just as the Syrophoenician woman became Jesus’ teacher, the outsider and excluded stories inform the process of dialogue, reflection and action.”

Together with Minh Nguyen and others, he rebuilt ACMICA, the Australian affiliate of the Pax Romana International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (ICMICA) during the early 2000s.

In this role, he played a major role in organising a series of New Pentecost events hosting international speakers, including World Social Forum (WSF) co-founder, Chico Whitaker, from Brazil, Malaysian Jesuit Fr Jojo Fung, an expert in Indigenous spiritualities, as well as interreligious dialogue experts, Edmund Chia and Gemma Cruz.

For many years, he worked as a student chaplain at the University of Technology, Sydney, just up the road from his own parish of St Joseph at Newtown.

There he developed profound ministries with the LGBTQI+ community as well as with Rachel’s Vineyard for women who had suffered from abortion.

I was privileged to enjoy his hospitality at the local presbytery on more than one occasion, learning also to appreciate a growing variety of Australian craft whiskies!

Many others knew Peter better and experienced his humanity far more deeply than I did.

We all mourn his passing. Condolences to all his family and friends.

Stefan Gigacz


RIP, Peter Maher, vigorous priest, Sydney, longtime editor of The Swag (Misacor)

“Impishly uncomplicated, lightly subversive”: remembering Father Peter Maher (John T. Squires)



Webinar: Gerard Philips, architect of Lumen Gentium

2022 not only marks the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council in October 1962 but it is also the 50th anniversary of the death of Belgian theologian, Gerard Philips, the architect of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium.

ACI has therefore invited Professor Mathijs Lamberigts, former director of the Vatican II Centre at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, to be the presenter for our 13 September webinar entitled “Gerard Philips, Theologian, senator and promoter of the laity.”

Gerard Philips, theologian, senator and promoter of the laity

Born on 29 April 1899, Philips was an early and enthusiastic collaborator of Joseph Cardijn, founder of the Young Christian Workers (YCW) movement. During the 1930s, he played a key role as chaplain in the development of the Flemish Catholic students movement. Continuing his work with Cardijn, he promoted Specialised Catholic Action among generations of Belgian seminarians.

In 1952, he published his landmark book, De leek in de Kerk, translated into English as “The laity in the Church.” In 1957, he achieved further prominence with his keynote address to the Second World Congress on Lay Apostolate in Rome.

As a peritus at the Second Vatican Council, Philips was called on by Cardinal Léon-Joseph Suenens to write what became the first draft of the future Dogmatic Constution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. Later, he collaborated closely with French peritus, Pierre Haubtmann, in the drafting of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World, Gaudium et Spes.

To these tasks, he brought his knowledge as a theologian but also the skills of diplomacy and negotiation that he had developed as a co-opted senator in the Belgian parliament

Originally from the Diocese of Liège, Gerard Philips taught at the University of Louvain (Leuven) from 1944 until his death on 14 July 1972.

Mathijs Lamberigts

Mathijs Lamberigts

Mathijs Lamberigts is Emeritus Professor at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven, where he remains a member of the Research Unit on the History of Church and Theology.

An academic librarian from 1989 to 2000, Professor Lamberigts was Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at Leuven from 2000 to 2008, and again from 2014 to 2018.

For 15 years, he was a member of the Religious Sciences working group of the Belgian National Foundation for Scientific Research (FNRS) and is also a member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium.

He is a member of the editorial staff of several leading theological including. Augustiniana, Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina, Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, Melitta, Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie médiévales, Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiastique, and Sacris Erudiri.

Date and time

Tuesday 13 September, 7pm AEST




Gerard Philips (French Wikipedia)

Gerard Phiips, The 25th anniversary of the YCW (French)

Gerard Philips, Reflections of a theologian (French)

Gustavo Gutiérrez’s A Theology of Liberation at 50

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.

Now 93, Gutiérrez, who has joined the Dominican order, “wrote the book after the Second Vatican Council, when much of Catholic theology was moving away from the deductive style of an earlier generation to an inductive one that took human experience into account,” Lee says.

“However, there was still something missing. Although the council had done much to recognize people of other faiths and indeed of no faith at all, it only dimly realized the plight of “non-persons” that today still make up the majority population of the planet. Liberation theology challenges all God-talk by placing their experiences at the center of reflection.

“If there is one thing we have learned in the last few years, it is that the great problems that we face, such as racism, poverty and the climate crisis, are structural in nature. They have long histories and are embedded socially in ways that are often masked in day-to-day life. A Theology of Liberation takes that structural insight to engage with and deepen Christian theology,” Lee notes.

“As powerful as its prophetic critique is, A Theology of Liberation also presents a positive vision summed up in a most basic definition of salvation — communion with God and with others. Yet that simple phrase yields deep implications when it takes seriously what is going on in the world and how it might affect the way core Christian beliefs are understood.


Michael Lee, After 50 years, Gutiérrez’s ‘A Theology of Liberation’ still ‘What’s Going On’ (National Catholic Reporter)

Australian YCW 80th anniversary

On 23 November, the Australian YCW, the Cardijn Community and ACI will present a webinar to commemorate and celebrate the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the movement in 1941.

Keynote speaker will be Bill Armstrong AO, former YCW leader from Victoria, who later had a distinguished career in international development

Responding to Bill will be Marilyn Bellett, current president of the Australian YCW.

Register for the event here:


Bill Armstrong AO

Bill Armstrong AO

Bill grew up on a sheep farm in Alexandra, central Victoria. He studied at St Bede’s College Mentone before taking up an apprenticeship in Fitting and Turning.

From 1958 till 1963 he worked for the YCW and also managed to play two AFL league games for Carlton Football Club.

In 1964 he began a career in international development with the newly formed OSB (Overseas Service Bureau, later to change its’ name to Australian Volunteers International).

In the 1970s Bill was National Co-ordinator of the Churches International Development Education Program, Action for World Development (AWD).

In 1982 he returned to AVI as CEO, a position he held till 2002, managing the growth of the organisation from a staff of 12 to a total of 130 people nationally and an annual budget of A$400,000 to over A$20 million. In 2001 AVI managed 1000 volunteers in 45 countries.

He was also a member of the ACFOA (Now ACFID) Executive for 20 years and was its president from 1993-1997.

Since his retirement in 2002 Bill has served on a variety of boards including Caritas Australia (2002-2009), ActionAid Australia (2003-2012), Indigenous Community Volunteers (Now Community First Development) 2000-2019, Friends of Suai/Covalima (Timor Leste) 2003-2017,and YCW Holdings (Melbourne) 2003-present.

He is a life member of AVI, ACFID and Action Aid Australia.

In 1995 Bill was presented with a Friendship Award by the State Bureau of Foreign Experts, People’s Republic of China and in 2000 he was the recipient of the Sir Edward Weary Dunlop Asia Medal, “In recognition of his significant contribution to forging stronger relations between Australia and Asia.”

In 2003 Bill was made an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO) “For service to the international community—-“

Marilyn Bellett

Marilyn Bellett
Marilyn Bellett

Marilyn is from Sydney where she obtained a Bachelors Degree in Biodiversity and Conservation from Macquarie University.

While in high school, she belonged to the YCS in Parramatta Diocese before later joining the YCW. In 2018, she worked for the Australian YCW as a youth engagement officer in Melbourne and later in her home diocese of Parramatta. She has also worked for Catholic Mission.

Currently, she is national president of the movement.


Marilyn Bellett, The work of the YCW in light of the Synod on Young People

Workers and the Church

Former IYCW president, Romeo Maione, delivered this talk in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985.

As the village breaks down, it rebuilds. As the seed dies so will it bear bruit. In death there is life. As the village dies, so does the city find life. The city is the village reborn. The village does not die in the village rather the village moves to the city to die and gives the city new life.

As the village dies in a city, it gives birth to a universal citizen who is neither Greek or Roman, Italian or French etc. He becomes a citizen of the city. The village in the city becomes the mechanism to change the person from a member of village into a citizen of the world. The essential part of this process happens in the work place.

While the workers may live in their separate villages in the city, they all work together in the workplace of the city. It is in the factory that the villager is called for the first time to work side by side with workers coming from various languages, cultures and faiths. It is in the workplace that a new solidarity is built up far and away from the frontiers once that held them together.

The first step towards universal solidarity is the worker movement. This movement was not planned rather it came out of the urge of justice. This forced the workers to organize so as to protect their jobs and wages and conditions of work. This was the first step from barbarism where the strong loads it over the weak and impose their will on uneducated workers. The village community cannot protect them in the factory. So a new type of organization starts to develop along with the living community.

Although the Church in America encouraged the organization of unions for the good of workers, the basic organization of the Church was still the geographical parish, even today, the Church has still to discover the various new communities that have no geographical, racial, cultural or even religious boundaries. When once the village was the only organization, now a whole new set of organizations was starting to develop yet the sap of life according to the experience of the Church was to circulate in only the dying villages in the city.

It was in this new community that social justice was the real glue of a new community. It is interesting to see how the village culture played a role in this new community. My dad told me the story of how he joined a union. He was a member of a “minority tribe” in an Italian village. As there was an incredible pull to help your own, the minority was always in danger of being replaced by another worker.

The majority tribe knew how to grease the hand of the foreman who was in charge of hiring. So my father always felt the danger of being let go to make room for one of the majority tribe. So my father joined a union to protect him from the majority. It was fear that led him in joining the union.

This new type of organization did not drop out of heaven rather it was founded on the fears and secondly the hopes of workers to better working conditions. This new worker movement in time replaced the dying villages. The drive of these new communities were to become “the historic class of making history”.

The distance between the worker movement and the Church is the measure of the distance of the Church from the modern world. Industrial power can only be civilized and made human by social power. This thinking even with the social teachings is far away from the essential thinking and praying of the Church. We camouflage our betrayal by insisting that power is not our mission.

Love is our mission, we say but never even think that love may be the greatest power to humanize and civilize the beast that lies in every person and culture. Love is the only power that can ever hope to exorcise the power and the power that absolutely corrupts. Love is the power of god that must struggle with the power of Satan. The latter is close to victory when love becomes detached from justice.

It is the masses that make history contrary to much Church thinking that it is the elites who construct societies and culture. New cultures must be built on the foundation of the masses. Those who do not know the history of the masses, of the villager becoming a worker are forever doomed to build castles in the sky.

Culture grows from the roots of the masses. Its first growth is as barbaric as an infant who must learn how to walk before it can run. The worker movement is an irreplaceable part of the building up of a new culture out of the membership of various village cultures coming together in the industrial plants.

It was the communist intellectuals that preached the workers were the historic class but who used their power to build up a society dominated by intellectuals. And we all know the results of this effort of using the masses for them to gain power over the masses.

The Church thinks that it does not have to dirty her hands in the cave of history. We will wait till sometime in the future to meet the workers..TOO Late|.

Romeo Maione
March 23.1982