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

Register

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86728331442?pwd=UERxRjM3NnhKZmlxSkRERnhlL3Budz09

READ MORE

Gerard Philips (French Wikipedia)

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

Gerard Philips, Reflections of a theologian (French)

The Pact of the Catacombs and the Pietralata Message

ACI has launched a new website – pactofthecatacombs.com – that tells the story of the Pact of the Catacombs for a Church of the Poor and its long forgotten counterpart, the Pietralata Message, for a worker Church.

The story began with a proposal by Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara to hold two Eucharistic celebrations towards the end of the Fourth Session of Vatican II in October or November 1965.

The two masses took place on successive evenings on 16 and 17 November 1965, just prior to the promulgation of the Decree on Lay Apostolate, Apostolicam Actuositatem, on 18 November.

The Mass for a Poor and Servant Church was held first in the Domitilla Catacombs. It was there that the document later to become known as the Pact of the Catacombs was adopted by the bishops present.

The Mass for Workers took place the following evening at Cardijn’s cardinal’s parish church of St Michael Archangel in the working class Rome suburb of Pietralata. There, the gathered bishops adopted a second document, the Pietralata Message.

Much has been written about the Pact of the Catacombs yet little is known of the Pietralata Message.

This website presents them both pairing them again in the way that Helder Camara had originally intended and hoped.

VISIT THE WEBSITE

https://www.pactofthecatacombs.com

Plenary Council prioritises lay apostolate formation

The Australian Plenary Council, which concluded last week, has prioritised formation for the apostolate of the laity in its Decree on “Formation and Leadership for Mission and Ministry.”

“Responding to the call for a renewal of formation,” reads §7 of the introduction to Decree 6,, “the Plenary Council endorses principles and strategies that develop models of formation to encourage and strengthen the apostolate of the laity in the world. “

It continues with a strong endorsement of the see-judge-act method for this formation:

This apostolate offers a particular prophetic sign by seeking the common good and by concrete actions that protect and promote human dignity, peace and justice. Attentive to the ‘signs of the times’, movements of the lay apostolate, in their various forms, offer the baptised a way to reflect on the concrete experiences of their lives in the light of the Gospel and engage as missionary disciples in the world.

As a means for formation, the apostolate of the laity is grounded in scriptural reflection, reception of the ecclesial wisdom of our tradition, and prayerful communal discernment. This formation shapes Christian engagement with the broader Australian community through listening and dialogue, and supports actions for the transformation of society through daily commitment and public witness.

“Therefore, to meet the formation needs of the present and future,” §9 adds, “the Plenary Council commits the Church in Australia to developing and committing to a culture of life-long faith formation that will ensure:

a. the diversity of the Catholic community is explicitly recognised;

b. intercultural competency is encouraged, especially in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and spiritualities;

c. the equal dignity of women and men is affirmed and demonstrated;

d. the renewal of faith formation within and for families in the context of the critical role that marriage, parenting, and care-giving plays as a school of formation, is prioritised and strengthened;

e. the apostolate of the laity, along with new ecclesial realities, acting as “leaven in the world,” (Lumen Gentium n. 31) is promoted, encouraged and supported;

f. the hopes, spirituality, giftedness, energy, and modes of communication and connection of young people are identified, incorporated, encouraged and celebrated;

g. ongoing support and strategies for those who minister to young people;

h. the rich variety of spiritual and devotional traditions of the Church are appreciated and celebrated; and

i. synodal practices such as encounter, accompaniment, listening, dialogue, discernment, and collaboration are fostered and deepened.

“By commiting the Australian Church to promoting the apostolate of the laity as a ‘leaven in the world,’ the Plenary has renewed the Vatican II emphasis on lay apostolate formation,” ACI secretary, Stefan Gigacz commented.

“This offers a clear direction to the work of the whole Australian Church,” he added. “It is also a major encouragement to ACI in its own work of promoting the spirituality and methods of Joseph Cardijn, who did so much to bring the lay apostolate to the forefront.”

The decrees of the Plenary Council will now be sent to Rome for ratification. Once this is completed, they will become binding on the Australian Church.

SOURCES

Formation and Leadership for Mission and Ministry (Australian Plenary Council)

2022: Australian Plenary Council: Formation (Australian Cardijn Institute)

Forum: Lumen Gentium 31 and the lay apostolate

The Australian Plenary Council has published its Framework for Motions to be discussed at its Second Assembly which will meet in Sydney from 4-9 July 2022.

Once again, ACI’s concern was the lack of emphasis on the lay vocation or apostolate of lay people. See also Fr Bruce Duncan’s critique of the Framework, which expresses similar concerns.

Meanwhile, Cardinal-elect Robert McElroy has highlighted the potential of the see-judge-act method for the development of a truly synodal Church.

Our latest submission therefore proposes amendments to §79-80, which fall under “Part 6. Formation and Leadership for Mission and Ministry.” 

In particular, the ACI submission called for the insertion of a paragraph highlighting that formation needs to focus on promoting the “specifically lay apostolate of lay people acting as a leaven within the world.”

This is based on §31 of the Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium (LG31), which states:

What specifically characterizes the laity is their secular nature. It is true that those in holy orders can at times be engaged in secular activities, and even have a secular profession. But they are by reason of their particular vocation especially and professedly ordained to the sacred ministry. Similarly, by their state in life, religious give splendid and striking testimony that the world cannot be transformed and offered to God without the spirit of the beatitudes. But the laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God. They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity. Therefore, since they are tightly bound up in all types of temporal affairs it is their special task to order and to throw light upon these affairs in such a way that they may come into being and then continually increase according to Christ to the praise of the Creator and the Redeemer.

Our second proposed amendment is to §80 and reads as follows:

To achieve this, the Church in Australia and in each diocese commits to develop and accompany lay apostolate formation movements, including classical movements such as the YCW and YCS as well as new initiatives responding to 21st century social realities and needs. Following the see-judge-act method of formation based on small review of life groups meeting regularly, these movements enable Christians to reflect on the concrete experiences of their lives as workers, family members and citizens in the light of the Gospel and to take personal and collective action to transform their lives and communities working for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven (Lumen Gentium §31). Priests, religious and lay ministers will play a vital special role in accompaniment in promoting this formation.

Lumen Gentium 31 Forum

Our 2021 Submission to the Plenary also called for the establishment of an Australian Catholic Council for the Lay Apostolate to promote the Vatican II vision of lay apostolate.

To date, we have no indication that this proposal will be adopted by the Plenary.

ACI will therefore hold an open forum to discuss further action to implement this proposal.

We invite all members and friends of ACI to join us for this event.

Please also see the link below for a compilation of resources on Catholic Social Teaching concerning the lay apostolate.

DETAILS

ACI Open Forum Lumen Gentium 31 and the Lay Apostolate

Saturday 2 July, 2.00pm AEST

REGISTRATION LINK

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEkfuGvqDgrH9wxxFJxAZc9NFXN8aeAeyIY

PHOTO

Lawrence OP / Flickr / CC BY ND NC 2.0

READ MORE

Fr Bruce Duncan CsSR, Plenary Council fails to embrace Pope Francis’s wider social vision (Eureka Street)

Cardinal-elect Robert McElroy, Pope Francis and Vatican II give us a road map for the synodal process (America Magazine)

A Chicago Declaration of Christian Concern 1977 (Australian Cardijn Institute)

ACI Submission to the Plenary 2019 on Lay Apostolate

ACI Submission to the Plenary 2021 on an Australian Catholic Council for the Lay Apostolate

ACI Proposed Amendments to the Plenary Framework for Motions 2022

Resources on Lay Apostolate (Australian Cardijn Institute)

Video: Yves Congar’s Theology of the Laity

French theologian, Fr Eric Mahieu, was our guest for the June ACI webinar focusing on the theology of the great French Dominican priest, Yves Congar, a major 20th century theologian and a key actor at the Second Vatican Council.

Watch the video now.

Yves Congar

Born in Sedan, France, in 1904, French Dominican Yves Congar was a leading 20th century theologian, who exercised a major influence on the Second Vatican Council.

A strong advocate of ecumenism, he also played a significant role in the development of a theology of the laity. His work “Lay People in the Church,” first published in French in 1953, was one of the first major theological treatises on the role of the laity.

From his days as a young priest stationed at the Dominican convent, Le Saulchoir, then located in Belgium, he led retreats for the young leaders of the emerging Young Christian Workers movement. Subsequently, he worked closely with the French Workers Catholic Action movement.

Later he would describe the YCW as “a prophetic initiative from the periphery” consecrated by a pope, Pius XI, “equally moved by a prophetic spirit.” The outcome was “a magnificent creation, an opening full of developmental promise: a prophetic work born of a twin prophetic movement linking the periphery and the centre,” Congar wrote.

In 1965, he encouraged Cardijn, who had recently been made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI, to make the most of his role as a Council Father at the Fourth Session of Vatican II, assisting Cardijn with the drafting of his speeches.

During the Council, he kept a day by day journal, recording the events, conversations and discussions in which he was involved. This was published after his death in 2000 under the title “Mon journal du Concile” and in English in 2012 as “My Journal of the Council.”

Recognising his lifetime of theological achievement, Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal in 1994, just months before his death at the age of 91 in 1995.

Speaker

Fr Eric Mahieu

Eric Mahieu is a priest of the Diocese of Lille in France, who has taught theology at the Catholic Institute of Paris for 15 years. A renowned scholar of Congar’s work, he edited Congar’s Vatican II notes for publication.

Currently, he is a university chaplain as well as parish priest at Our Lady of the Pentecost in Lille.

READ MORE

Yves Congar (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Yves Congar, My Journal of the Council (ATF Press)

RIP John Maguire, chaplain to the Vatican II lay auditors

Former Brisbane priest and YCW chaplain, John Maguire, who became ecclesiastical assistant to the lay auditors at the Second Vatican Council died on 28 April at the age of 91.

John was a close friend of Pat Keegan, a founding leader of the English YCW and the first lay auditor to address the Council. It was at Keegan’s request that Paul VI appointed him as ecclesiastical assistant to the lay auditors.

He was present for several critical moments of the Council, including the dramatic Black Week at the end of the Third Session in November 1964.

He was also with Cardijn for his episcopal ordination in February 1965. He and Keegan were also with Cardijn, who wept with anguish, on the day he received his red cardinal’s hat.

At the Council and afterwards, he also became close friends with Charles Moeller, the Belgian literary scholar and theologian, who played a significant role as peritus at Vatican II.

Upon his return to Australia, John left the priesthood – at least in the traditional sense – and initially became a labourer at the Doomben racetrack.

Later he became a lecturer in history at James Cook University in Townsville. While there, he wrote a highly regarded history of the diocese entitled “Prologue.”

In 1992, he wrote a deeply personal memoir, entitled “Blessed are the Cheesemakers” taken from the Monty Python film “The The Life of Brian,” recalling his experience as a student of Thomistic philosophy in Rome, as well as his struggle to “grapple with” and to be accepted for his homosexuality.

In 1999, John wrote another book “What is conscience? A cautionary tale,” originally intended as Volume 1 of a trilogy on “Conscience and the Moral Law.”

In the preface, he quoted a 1969 talk by Moeller to Brisbane priests:

We stand at a time in history where we need to ask all the old questions – as if we have never had an answer before: what does it mean to be human? what does it mean to be saved? who is this person, Jesus of Nazareth? is there really any need for the Church?”

And Moeller continued:

As we move into the discovery of our own answers, we will need then to call on memory, on history, to reflect on the answers previous generations have given to these same questions. I believe eventually we shall be surprised how close what we will be saying will be to what others have said before us – but, at the same time, we will be seeing it all differently. With fresh insights, we will express everything with new emphases, nuances. More importantly, our answers will be alive within us, not merely parroted answers we have received from others.

As John recalls, “Moeller’s words touched a deep chord within me”:

By that time my own journey had already made me strongly aware that, just as every child has to learn to walk from inside itself, listening to the call of its own body, its own spirit, discovering its own freedom, accepting its own limitations, so too, each of us has to find the truth, the freedom of life, of love, of God, for ourselves – from within ourselves. Truth and freedom can never be separated. Truth can only be discovered in freedom; freedom can only be preserved in truth – the truth which is the God “Who Is”.

RIP John

Stefan Gigacz

READ MORE

John Maguire, Blessed are the Cheesemakers

John Maguire, What is conscience? A cautionary tale.

Charles Moeller (Wikipedia – French)

Bishop Remi De Roo, apostle of Vatican II

Born in Manitoba, Canada of Flemish Belgian parents on 24 February 1924, Remi De Roo first met Cardijn while a seminarian at the time of the 1947 YCW International Congress in Montreal.

Ordained in 1950, a year later he was appointed director of Catholic Action for the Diocese of St Boniface, Manitoba. Later he served as parish priest at Holy Cross parish.

Aged only 38, he was appointed by Pope John XXIII as bishop of Victoria, British Columbia in October 1962. This enabled him to attend all four sessions of Vatican II.

During the Council, he worked closely with Cardijn, delivering a significant intervention on the role of the laity.

In his memoirs, he recalled the battles Cardijn had faced at the Council.

“At Vatican II, Cardinal Cardijn confided to me that he never fully succeeded in getting “those Romans” to grasp the true nature of specialized (meaning the apostolate of like to like) Catholic Action. They failed to grasp how it was directed primarily towards the transformation of society through Gospel values. It was not meant to be oriented towards the strengthening or promotion of Church structures as such. I remember him bemoaning the fact that in the commission in which he participated during the Council, he had found it practically impossible to get the members to understand the true nature of Catholic Action.

After the Council, he became a strong proponent of social action and liberation theology and a critic of capitalism. He was the main force behind the 1983 Canadian bishops’ statement “Ethical Reflections on the Economic Crisis,” which stated that the “goal of serving the human needs of all people in our society must take precedence over the maximization of profits and growth.”

Letter from Remi De Roo to Margaret Bacon

When YCW leaders in Brazil were arrested in 1971-72, he wrote letters on their behalf. He was close friends with Margaret Bacon, IYCW secretary-general, who later married Brian Burke.

As bishop, he was also criticised for his management of diocesan finances. Eventually, however, the investments he had made proved sound.

He also broached the subject of married priest and women priests with Pope John Paul II, who accepted Bishop De Roo’s resignation within weeks of his reaching the official retirement age of 75.

Sadly, according to reports from abuse survivors’ groups, it also appears he was not immune to the temptation to place protection of priests and the church above the safety of the young and the vulnerable in his care.

Remi De Roo died on 1 February 2022.

REFERENCES

Bishop Remi De Roo (Catholic Hierarchy)

Remi De Roo, A bishop calls for a more dynamic way of dealing with the lay apostolate (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Bishop Remi De Roo, social justice champion who attended Vatican II, dies (National Catholic Reporter)

Vatican II was first time church asked ‘Who am I?’ says Canadian bishop (Catholic Register)

Arthur Jones, Remi De Roo – An unflagging apostle for and of the Second Vatican Council (National Catholic Reporter/Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

SNAP Vancouver responds to accolades given to Bishop Remi De Roo (Bishop Accountability)

Chronicles of a Vatican II bishop (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

VIDEOS

Reforming Tradition: A Conversation with Remi De Roo, June 21, 2018 (Centre for Studies on Religion and Society, University of Victoria)

Witnesses to the Council (University of St Paul, Ottawa)

RIP Bartolo Perez, IYCW president and Vatican II lay auditor

Brazilian Bartolo Perez, president of the IYCW from 1961-65 and a lay auditor at Vatican II, died on 21 January 2022 at the age of 96.

Born on 20 November 1925, Bartolo began work as an apprentice turner in a small auto parts factory at the age of fourteen. Here, Bartolo met young Emídio, a YCW leader, who introduced him to the YCW in the Mooca neighbourhood of Sao Paulo.

Soon, he became involved in union action to defend the dignity and improve the working conditions of young workers in his factory.

These actions eventually led to his involvement in preparing Brazil’s 1st National Congress of Young Workers and the 1st National Congress of Domestic Workers.

Elected national president, he also helped launched the YCW in neighbouring Uruguay. In 1957, he attended the International YCW pilgrimage to Rome and First International Council.

Four years later at the Second International Council in Rio de Janeiro in 1961, he was elected IYCW international president, succeeding Romeo Maione.

News article on Bartolo’s election as IYCW president

Working with Cardijn, he advocated on behalf of the IYCW from the beginning of Vatican II in 1962, helping contact and lobby many bishops friendly to the YCW, particularly in Latin America.

In 1964, Pope Paul VI appointed him as a lay auditor to the Council in which capacity he continued to assist in the drafting of the Decree on Lay Apostolate, Apostolicam Actuositatem, and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today, Gaudium et Spes.

After completing his term with the IYCW, he returned to Brazil with his wife, Candida, moving to Porto Alegre, where he studied pedagogy and became a vocational teacher.

Upon his retirement, he remained active as a member of an Association of Retired Teachers in Private Schools in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, remaining a fierce defender of the rights of the elderly all his life.

He also remained close to the YCW, editing the Boletín Solidariedade, for former YCW members. He also helped compile a book on the history of the Brazil YCW, Juventude, Trabalho, Vida: uma história de desafios – JOC no Brasil, 1935 a 1985.”

From 1997-2000, he also took part in the IYCW History Project, contributing greatly to the volume on the history of the YCW in the Americas.

Candida predeceased Bartolo, dying on 17 May 2015.

Cardijn, Pat Keegan and Bartolo Perez at Vatican II

REFERENCES

Bartolo Perez: A Chronology of The Life of a YCW Activist Who Remained a YCW Activist All His Life (International YCW)

Mission, ministries and co-responsibility

Thanks to NZ Catholic and Bishop Peter Cullinane, emeritus bishop of Palmerston North, Aotearoa-New Zealand for permission to reproduce this important article.

The front line of the Church’s work is the Christian people whose lives are leaven in the dough of all the ordinary circumstances of ordinary life. The purpose of ministries within the Church is to provide nurture and formation for that mission. It is the mission that matters.

Part I Ministries

For some years, we have all been aware of a growing gap between the number of parishes and the number of priests available to serve in them. This reality serves as a wake-up call, but it is not the basis for greater lay involvement. That involvement has its roots in Baptism and the very nature of the Church. Through Baptism, we are all united to the priestly and prophetic mission of Christ. This is the basis for our shared responsibility for what the Church is and what it does:

“Co-responsibility requires a change in mentality, particularly with regard to the role of the laity in the Church, who should be considered not as ‘collaborators’ with the clergy, but as persons truly ‘co-responsible’ for the being and the activity of the Church . . . ” (Pope Benedict XVI, 10 August 2012).

This is more than just a matter of management, or meeting an emergency. It, too, is rooted in Baptism and the nature of the Church. So why does this require a “change in mentality” if it already belongs to the nature of the Church? History gives the answer. During the first four centuries of the Church, lay people had roles in the liturgy, preached, had a say in the election of bishops and nomination of priests; contributed to the framing of Church laws and customs, prepared matters for, and participated in, Church councils, administered Church properties, etc.

Then, after the conversion of the emperor Constantine and the mass conversions that followed, responsibility shifted one-sidedly into the hands of the clergy. And following the barbarian invasions, responsibility for public order also fell to them. Over following centuries, society came to see priesthood as a profession, with social privilege. During earlier centuries, it had been a point of honour for ministers of the Church to live and look like everyone else.

Perception changed also within the Church. This is perhaps symbolised by the altar being pushed back to the apse of the church, where liturgy became mainly a clerical affair, with diminishing involvement of the laity. Scholarship and better understanding of the early Church would eventually return the liturgy to the whole body of the faithful, and restore roles of pastoral care and administration to lay women and men.

Most see our own day as a time of privileged opportunity for renewal. It is challenging because it involves the need for more personal responsibility, and moving away from the forms of tutelage and guardianship that shaped Church practices right up till the time of Pope Pius XII. Others feel safer clinging to that recent past, often misunderstanding the meaning of “Tradition”.

Part II Mission

In Christ, God became immersed in human life; showed us how to live it, destined us to its fullness, and sent the Holy Spirit to draw us into what Christ did for us. That is God’s purpose, and the Church can have no other – “Humanity is the route the Church must take” (Pope John Paul II).

How we do this comes down to how we “do” love. There is a loving that does not go deep enough to transform society. It works at the level of what seems fair and reasonable and deserving. This is what governments are properly concerned with. Society must do better, and the Church’s mission is to be the leaven in society. It deals with a deeper kind of loving – love that is not limited to what seems fair and reasonable and deserved.

As Church, we are uniquely placed to do this because, in the person, life, death and Resurrection of Jesus, we see love that is unconditional, undeserved, and unstinting. When we love as we have been loved, our love becomes a circuit breaker – precisely because it is not calculating and limited to what seems fair and reasonable and deserved. Running through family life, civic life, industrial, commercial and political life, this kind of love “changes everything”. It brings about a way of living – of being human – that is true to what God made us for.

But, note, it starts with seeing God’s love for us – contemplative seeing! Christians have the least excuse for not recognising the intrinsic link between contemplation and working for social justice because, in celebrating Eucharist, they move from contemplating God’s extraordinary love for us to receiving and becoming the body broken for others and the blood (life) poured out for others.

This is how faith makes a decisive difference to all of human life, while fully respecting the rightful autonomy of everything that is properly secular. In the midst of life, God is drawing us towards the fulfilment of our own deepest yearnings, and wonderfully more, involving God’s purpose for the whole of creation.

On that understanding of “the route the Church must take”, we come to know what ministries are needed to nurture us for that mission, and what kind of formation is needed for those ministries.

Part III Formation

To be involved in the processes of making our lives more truly human is a wonderful mission. So what kind of formation is needed for ministries that serve that mission?

Writing about the formation needed for priests, Pope John Paul II said it needs to be “human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral”, and went on to say that continuing formation was a matter of a priest’s faithfulness to his ministry, of love for the people, and in the proper sense a matter of justice, given the people’s rights (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 70).

Commenting on some of the characteristics of human formation, the Congregation for the Clergy explicitly singled out the specific contribution of women, “not only for the seminarians’ personal life, but also with a view to their future pastoral activity” (Ratio Fundamentalis, 95). The congregation’s reference was to Pope John Paul’s emphasis on “what it means to speak of the ‘genius of women’, not only in order to be able to see in this phrase a specific part of God’s plan which needs to be accepted and appreciated, but also in order to let this genius be more fully expressed in the life of society as a whole, as well as in the life of the Church; (Letter to Women, 1995, 10).

In our country, women have been carrying out significant roles at both Holy Cross Seminary and Good Shepherd College for some years. What still needs to be developed, however, are ways of allowing parishioners generally to play a bigger part, both in seminarians’ formation and in the discernment of their vocation. Those who will live with the results of formation, for better or for worse, should have a say in that formation and the selection of candidates.

Programmes for the formation of lay women and men for parish ministries already exist, and I leave it to others to comment on them. My concern here is with a very specific feature needed in Church leadership – both lay and ordained. It is needed all the more because general education in our country has been gradually reduced to learning mainly practical skills. Skills, both human/relational and technological, properly belong within education, but not more so than the deeper aspects of what it means to be human. Even when we know how to do the things necessary for successful living, we still need to know what ultimately gives meaning to it all.

Knowing that one’s life has a purpose can make the difference between surviving, or not surviving, life’s toughest times. The will to live needs a reason to live. The need I am pointing to is the need for leaders who are “in the service of meaning” (Ratcliffe). This is what it means, in practice, to be ministers of God’s Word. Knowing how much we mean to God is the most important thing we can know about ourselves, and is truly life-giving.

Within a culture that has become superficial, reductionist and utilitarian, one of the ways we are in the service of meaning is by knowing how to identify flaws within that culture, especially where important aspects of daily life are devalued by becoming disconnected from what gives them their meaning, or at least their full meaning. Formation will be incomplete unless it is formation “in the service of meaning”.

Part IV     Where to start? 

 I referred to the increasing gap between the number of our parishes and the number of priests. Simply combining parishes, whether for the sake of having a parish priest in every parish, or out of due concern for future financial resourcing, does not resolve the problem because ultimately everything depends on pastoral effectiveness and enlivening.  

 An alternative to combining parishes is available where Church law allows for the pastoral care of parishes to be entrusted to lay people, with a priest appointed to provide general supervision (canon 517/2), usually from another parish. We already experience the insufficiency of suitable priests, which is what justifies recourse to this canon. Of course, where this happens, priests are still required for sacramental ministry. It is possible that some priests might even prefer that kind of role, leaving management of the parish to a team of qualified lay women and men. Lay leadership of parishes requires proper formation – of parish and leaders – and proper remuneration.  

 Yet another starting point for renewal can be found in the experience of small base communities pioneered by the Church in some countries in South America and Asia. Of course, we cannot simply transfer other local churches’ experience to our situation. But we, too, can establish smaller communities within parishes, where leadership can be shared by teams and on a voluntary basis.  

 Such gatherings would be lay-led, and need no official authorisation. They can happen already, and develop in home-spun ways. 

 The Christian Base Communities in South American countries grew out of lay people coming together to pray and reflect on the Scriptures and on their life situations, using the Catholic Action principle: “see, judge, act”.  Their aim was a more just society and more truly human life for everyone – “the route the Church must take”. If this were happening in our own country, we could ask the kind of questions they asked: what are the causes of poverty in our country, and what can we do about those causes? Indeed, this is an appropriate level at which to analyse whatever flaws in our culture leave us less able to deal with the epic issues of our time – those that degrade human life, human dignity, human rights, and the planet itself. 

 Addressing those issues – through the lenses of divine revelation – is itself a way of participating in the mission of the Church. It is a good place to start because it is already do-able; it can be inclusive of those who feel unable to participate in other aspects of the Church’s life; it does not need clerical leadership or control, but makes room for ordained priesthood to present itself as a supporting ministry; it can model shared leadership, and lead to whatever forms of ministry might need to come next.   

 It is also a way of being Church that is “synodal”, (being “on the road together”).  The larger gatherings that we call “synods” presuppose the experience of walking and working together before we are ready for the decisions we gather to make at synods. It also gives scope and opportunity for the participation of many who will not be at the synods. 

Part V    What More?  

 Pope Francis has rightly said: “The Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures all need to be channelled for what best serves the Church’s mission of evangelising the world”; (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 27).  

To act on that would make big differences. Yet, even these changes are “small change” compared with where the Church has already been, and can yet go. Bigger changes rightly need wider consultation. And synodality is pointless if it isn’t about the road ahead and exploring what might yet be. 

Ministry that is authorised to speak and act in Christ’s name has its origin in Christ’s historical intentions. But its structure and concrete forms were determined by the Church during the apostolic period and after, continuing until late in the second century. What the Church gave shape to after the apostolic period, it can give different shape to now. Being faithful to the Tradition involves more than just receiving what the early Church did; it involves doing what the early Church did: it shaped its ministries to meet the needs of its mission.  

So long as the fullness of ordained responsibility remains intact – as in the college of bishops with and under the bishop of Rome – lesser participations in ordained ministry can be redistributed. The “powers” presently distributed within the three ministries of bishop, presbyter and deacon would live on, but enshrined within a wider variety of ordained ministries. This would open up significant new pastoral opportunities, and incorporate a wider range of charisms into ordained ministry. 

Whatever about that, 50 years ago, the International Theological Commission said  “It is urgent to create much more diversified structures of the Church’s pastoral action as regards both its ministries and its members, if the Church is to be faithful to its missionary and apostolic vocation.”  (The Priestly Ministry, pp 99,100). 

SOURCE AND PHOTO

Bishop Peter Cullinane, Mission, Ministries and co-responsibility (NZ Catholic)

Bishop Peter Cullinane, Mission, ministries and co-responsibility (part two) (NZ Catholic)

Coming Synod a ‘turning point’: Rafael Luciani

Venezuelan lay theologian and advisor to the Synod of Bishops, Professor Rafael Luciani, has described the 2023 Synod Assembly on Synodality, as the “most important event since Vatican II” and one that signifies a “turning point” in the way the Church approaches the Council.

Professor Luciani, who will deliver the inaugural Cardijn Lecture for the Australian Cardijn Institute on 13 November, added that the Synod preparation process, which is launching globally this month, will be centred on “the ecclesiology of the People of God,” which was first introduced by the Council and has been emphasised many times by Pope Francis.

This idea, he says, means that the relationship between the People of God and Church is “not hierarchical anymore, that it is differentiated, but complementary”.

Moreover, a “bishop needs the other, including priests and lay people,” which changes the whole relationship.

“This is what co-responsibility is all about,” he noted.

According to Prof. Luciani, another key novelty of the 2023 Synod will be the enhanced involvement of theologians in the process of listening and discernment aimed at creating this new synodal Church and the inclusion of theological reflection in the structures of the Church. In this sense, it is a real “kairos” moment for the Church.

“We don’t have theological reflection on one side, and people, on the other, saying: ‘How do we bring that into the real structures in the Church’.”

“My expectation and hope that there will be a real dialogue and consensus.”

Speaking to NCR Online, Prof. Luciani added that the aim is an enhanced “new ecclesial way of proceeding inspired by a practice of transparency and accountability.”

Cardijn Lecture: “The Emergence of Synodality: The Latin American Experience”

Rafael will share this experience in the inaugural ACI Cardijn Lecture on the theme “The Emergence of Synodality: The Latin American Experience,” which will take place on at 1.00pm AEDT on Saturday 13 November (Friday evening 12 November US time).

The event will be co-hosted by the US Cardijn Network and Pax Romana USA.

Dr Elissa Roper,  who completed her PhD on “Synodality and Authenticity: Towards a Contemporary Ecclesiology for the Catholic Church” at Yarra Theological Union and the University of Divinity this year, will respond to Rafael’s presentation.

Previously, Elissa was also a member of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne’s Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission. She was a member of the Victorian Council of Church’s Faith and Order Commission for six years, and is currently the VCC Liaison Officer on the Board of the Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia. She and her husband have four children.

Joseph Cardijn was the founder of the Young Christian Workers (YCW) movement and a Council Father at Vatican II.

More information: Stefan Gigacz: aci@australiancardijninstitute.org

Dr Elissa Roper

REGISTER HERE:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYqdOivrTIuE9EcJaLYu9tRAawD2fxbyjby

READ MORE

The Emergence of Synodality: The Latin American Experience

Rafael Luciani on Latin American Roots of Pope Francis Reforms (College of the Holy Cross/YouTube)

A theologian’s take on how the 2023 Synod is a turning point for the Church (Vatican News)

Francis is betting a synodal church will be a cure for a clerical church (NCR Online)

Pope Francis, Moment of reflection for the beginning of the synodal journey (Vatican.va)

Local consultation opens for global Synod of Bishops (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)

Pax Romana ICMICA

Joseph Cardijn (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

PHOTOS

Amerindia (Rafael Luciani) and Elissa Roper

Denis Edwards Book Prize for Fr Orm Rush

Congratulations to Associate Professor Ormond Rush from the Australian Catholic University for his monumental recent book, The Vision of Vatican II, Its fundamental principles, which recently shared in the award of the 2021 ATF Literary Trust Theological Book Prize in honour of the late Adelaide priest and theologian, Fr Denis Edwards.

Appropriately enough, Fr Orm was a member of the YCS as a high school student in Queensland while Fr Denis was a YCS chaplain in Adelaide.

In his book, Fr Orm discerns 24 hermeneutical, theological and ecclesiological principles for understanding and implementing the orientations of the Second Vatican II.

In their evaluation, the judges said that The Vision of Vatican II “was destined to become a major point of reference in Vatican II studies.”

“It is difficult to overestimate the magnitude of the achievement of Ormond Rush’s Vision of Vatican II. 
The author offers a remarkable tour de force of the theological and ecclesial principles the author discerns in the documents, background and fundamental vision of Vatican II. Rush does this from the vantage point of half a century of critical engagement, reflection and reception within the wider ecumenical Church. 

“Combining a breadth and depth of scholarship with creativity and insight the author provides a foundational theological resource not simply for students and theologians of Vatican II but for all who would seek to understand some of the great themes that have preoccupied the hearts and minds of Christians in the 20th and 21st century.”

Fr Orm shared the prize with another ACU theologian, David Newheiser, for his book Hope in a Secular Age.

READ MORE

ACU theologians scoop book prize (ACU Media Release/CathNews)

WATCH THE VIDEO OF THE PRESENTATION

Fr Orm begins his presentation at the 29:20 minute mark.

Pierre Haubtmann, redactor of Gaudium et Spes: The webinar

Mgr Philippe Bordeyne, outgoing rector of the Catholic Institute of Paris, now president of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Marriage and the Family at the Lateran University in Rome, was ACI’s guest speaker for our webinar marking the 50th anniversary of the death of French priest, Pierre Haubtmann, redactor in chief of Gaudium et Spes, on 6 September 2021.

Mgr Bordeyne is himself a specialist on Gaudium et Spes, having written his PhD thesis on the significance of the concept of “anguish” in the Pastoral Constitution. He has also written articles on the life of Pierre Haubtmann.

Clara Geoghegan, co-director of the Siena Institute and executive secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, was our respondent.

We now present the video of the event with thanks to our presenters, participants and to Arnaldo Casali from the John Paul II Institute for his technical assistance in editing.

 

Cardinal Czerny honours ‘enormous contribution’ of Pierre Haubtmann

Cardinal Michael Czerny, SJ, Under-Secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development has sent a message recalling the “enormous contribution” to the the Vatican II Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World of Today, Gaudium et Spes, by French priest, Pierre Haubtmann.

“To express my gratitude for Gaudium et Spes and to honour Fr Pierre Haubtmann, let me recall that, 50 years ago, we began reading Gustavo Gutiérrez’s A Theology of Liberation,” Cardinal Czerny wrote.

“We were all immersed in Vatican II, breathing and living Gaudium et Spes. At that time, the roots of A Theology of Liberation in Vatican II were not a question, but an assumption that remained implicit. A Theology of Liberation was simply “planted by the streams of water” (Psalm 1:3) of Vatican II.

“Today, 50 years later, to reread A Theology of Liberation is joyfully to rediscover the then new theology rooted and grounded in Vatican II.

“For this we give thanks to God, with the intercession of Pope St John XXIII and Pope St Paul VI, for Fr Pierre Haubtmann and his enormous contribution to the Church,” Cardinal Czerny concluded.

The ACI webinar to honour Pierre Haubtmann will take place on Monday 6 September, 2021, the 50th anniversary of his death. Our guest speaker will be Mgr Philippe Bordeyne, president of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Marriage and Family, and Clara Staffa Geoghegan, executive secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

Register here via Zoom:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUqdeutpzwvEtwr9SYLzUtKOA4sWiUtQxbM

To Gaudium et Spes

Remembering Pierre Haubtmann, redactor of Gaudium et Spes

French priest, Pierre Haubtmann was the chief redactor for the groundbreaking Vatican II document, Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the World of Today. Next month marks the 50th anniversary of his tragic death in a bushwalking accident on 6 September 1971.

Long before he became a peritus at the Council, he was a chaplain for the JOCF, the Girls YCW, in the Paris suburb of Meudon. Later, he became a national chaplain of the Action Catholique Ouvrière, the Workers Catholic Action movement that is the adult counterpart of the French JOC. Haubtmann also worked closely with other Specialised Catholic Action movements including the Action Catholique des Milieux Indépendants, a movement for Catholic professionals and business people.

This experience was certainly critical in his appointment to take charge of the compiling and editing of the final version of Gaudium et Spes, which applies the Cardijn see-judge-act method.

As Haubtmann noted himself: “With respect to each question, we begin with facts (previously ‘signs of the times’); we judge them; and we derive various pastoral orientations. This method was explicitly desired by the competent bodies; it manifestly corresponds to the will of the overwhelming majority of the Fathers.”

Mgr Philippe Bordeyne

ACI is thus pleased to present a special webinar honouring Pierre Haubtmann. Mgr Philippe Bordeyne, outgoing rector of the Catholic Institute of Paris, and soon to commence as president of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Marriage and the Family at the Lateran University in Rome, will be our guest speaker.

Mgr Bordeyne is himself a specialist on Gaudium et Spes, having written his PhD thesis on the significance of the concept of “anguish” in the Pastoral Constitution. He has also written articles on the life of Pierre Haubtmann.

Clara Geoghegan

Clara Geoghegan, co-director of the Siena Institute and executive secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, will be our respondent.

REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR

Remembering Pierre Haubtmann, 6 September 2021, 7.00pm AEST (Zoom)

READ MORE

Pierre Haubtmann (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Philippe Bordeyne, Mgr Pierre Haubtmann (1912-1971) : un théologien de la communication de la foi, Transversalités, 2010/4 (N° 116), pages 127-149. (French)

“Institut Catholique” rector named head of John Paul II institute in Rome (La Croix International)

Paris Catholic University head: Theologians must tackle tough questions (NCR Online)

Clara Geoghegan joins Bishops Conference as executive secretary (ACBC)

Stefan Gigacz, Pierre Haubtmann and the drafting of Gaudium et Spes (Presentation)

Stefan Gigacz, Pierre Haubtmann and the drafting of Gaudium et Spes (YouTube)

Stefan Gigacz, Remembering Pierre Haubtmann, redactor of Gaudium et Spes (Cardijn Research)

The jocist bishops and the Church of the Poor bishops

Bob Pennington with Stefan Gigacz
bob-stefan

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.

 

 

Gustavo

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.


READ THE ARTICLE


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

PHOTO

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

Cardijn on religious freedom

It is 52 years to the day since Cardinal Joseph Cardijn delivered his first speech on the Council floor at Vatican II. His theme was religious freedom, an issue that is perhaps even more on the world’s agenda today than it was during the 1960s.

As always, Cardijn refuses to adopt a “defensive” approach to religious freedom where the Church seeks to defend its own freedoms or status. On the contrary, Cardijn sees religious freedom as the whole basis of his approach to the Gospel message. Indeed, for Cardijn religious freedom lies at the very heart of his see-judge-act method.

Intervention by Cardinal Joseph Cardijn, 20 September 1965

The schema on liberty pleases me greatly. Allow me to humbly share with you the experience of nearly 60 years of priestly apostolate exercised in every country at the service of young workers today.

It seems to me that a solemn and clear proclamation of the juridical religious freedom of all people in every country of the world is an urgent need.

First Reason: Peaceful unification of a pluralist world

The world today is tending increasingly towards unity and conflicts between nations and cultures must disappear progressively.

As John XXIII stated so admirably in Pacem in Terris, our great task is to unite ourselves with all men of good will to build a more human world together based on “truth, justice, liberty and love”. And the fundamental condition for people to live together peacefully and to collaborate fruitfully is sincere respect for religious freedom.

The fact of not respecting the philosophical and religious convictions of others is increasingly felt by them as a sign of mistrust in a matter considered as sacred and personal to the highest degree. Such an attitude makes mutual confidence impossible and without this there can be no true community life and no effective collaboration.

On the other hand, if mutual confidence reigns, it creates an opportunity for very joyful collaboration, not only on the scientific and technical planes but also on the social, cultural, pedagogical and moral levels.

If the Church can pronounce itself unambiguously in favour of religious freedom, people everywhere will gain confidence and recognise that the Church wishes to participate in building a more human and more united world. If on the other hand, this declaration should be rejected, great hopes will disappear, particularly among young people.

Second Reason: Efficacity of apostolic, missionary and ecumenical action

In a world heading towards unification, the presence of the Church among the people must necessarily take a new form, which could be compared to the dispersion of the people of Israel after the captivity of Babylon.

In the greater part of the world Christians are a small minority. In order to fulfil its mission, the Church cannot base itself on temporal, political, economic or cultural power as it did in the Middle Ages or under colonial regimes. It can only count on the power of the word of God, evangelical poverty, the purity of its witness, manifested in the authentically Christian life of lay people, and also on the esteem of the peoples among whom the Church wishes to live and witness to its faith. And this esteem of the people is nothing other than what we have described as religious liberty. But how can the Church hope to benefit from religious liberty in countries where it is a minority if the Church itself fails to loudly proclaim or to practise religious liberty in the countries where it is in the majority?

This proclamation of religious liberty is important not only for the efficacity of apostolic and missionary action in general but it is also the condition sine qua non of the ecumenical movement.

We know that all our non-Catholic brothers consider this declaration as a step which must be taken in order to arrive at a sincere and effective ecumenism.

Third Reason: The educational and pedagogic value of religious freedom

The schema speaks of the right of the person and of communities to religious freedom. This juridical freedom is not an end in itself. It is a necessary means for education in liberty in its fullest sense, which leads to interior liberty, or liberty of the soul by which a man becomes an autonomous being, responsible before society and God, ready if necessary to obey God rather than men.

This interior freedom, even if it exists in germ as a natural gift in every human creature, requires a long education which can be summarised in three words: see, judge and act.

If, thanks be to God, my sixty years of apostolate have not been in vain, it is because I have never wanted young people to live in shelter from dangers, cut off from the milieu of their life and work.

Rather I have shown confidence in their freedom in order to better educate that freedom. I helped them to see, judge and act by themselves, by undertaking social and cultural action themselves, freely obeying authorities in order to become adult witnesses of Christ and the Gospel, conscious of being responsible for their sisters and brothers in the whole world.

In our world moving towards unification, it is not possible to educate young people in glass houses, cutting them off from the real world. Many people lose the faith because they have been given a childish education.

It is only by means of a sound education in interior freedom that our young people will be able to become adult Christians.

Objections

Some will object that freedom involves a number of dangers: indifferentism, diffusion of errors, abuse of the ignorance of the masses and of the passions.

Here is my answer:

I am conscious of these dangers. Some certainly will abuse religious freedom; but these risks are less serious that those which arise from the suppression or the oppression of religious freedom. “Absolutist regimes” – even those which claim to serve the Church – where social pressure is substituted for personal formation, favour anti-clericalism and in fact incite the masses to revolt against the faith and the Church.

The dangers inherent in a regime of freedom must be faced in a positive manner, for example by a frank and sincere international agreement between civil and religious authorities; but above all by the formation and human, moral and religious education thanks to which young people and adults become conscious of their own responsibilities.

Conclusion

To conclude, I would like to propose the following:

This Vatican Council must conclude with a solemn and magnificent act by Pope Paul VI in union with all the Fathers.

This act should solemnly proclaim religious freedom. It should request all confessions, all ideologies, all authorities and institutions to unanimously maintain and protect religious freedom, defining the requirements of public order in a correct and honest manner as well as seeking to implement the means for effectively protecting religious freedom.

I have finished. Thank you.

Joseph Card. Cardijn

SOURCE

Joseph Cardijn, Religious liberty (www.josephcardijn.com)

Question

Why is religious freedom so important for achieving “peaceful unification of the world” in Cardijn’s view?

How does Cardijn define “religious liberty”? What is the significance of his definition?

What is the connection between “religious liberty” and the see-judge-act method?

Jim Madden’s Eucharistic Blues on the Mass Exodus

Although they were sometimes perceived by priests as “Young Christian Wreckers”, the YCW in Australia was “a powerhouse for energising needed and effective Christian activities in those parishes” where it was adopted, writes, Jim Madden in his 2012 book “Eucharistic Blues: Reviewing the Mass Exodus,” published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

“Through the YCW many young people developed a genuine Christian mentality by internalising the beliefs and values of their faith,” Madden writes. “They developed their acceptance of what the Church believed and practiced because it really became what they had convinced themselves that it was what they believed and practiced.

“Their living faith and their association with the clergy made them valuable assets to have around parishes, not just for when they were members of the YCW but for the rest of their lives. Some members tried to further their apostolic endeavours through entering a seminary, monastery or convent and others became faithful spouses and caring parents in loving and fruitful Christian marriages.”

Madden also credits YCW pioneers of the implementation of the decrees and decisions of Vatican II.

YCW leaders “were conspicuous among the people who were willing to undertake many of the new ministries these decrees implied,” he says.

The movement’s doctrine was based on an image of the Church “as the Mystical Body of Christ.”

“This doctrine emphasised the communitarian nature of the Church and the responsibility of everyone to actively engage in the work of spreading the gospel message.

“It carried the message that all members were part of the crew of the good ship ‘Church’ and had a vital role to fulfil”

In particular, “the Church was not like a big bus being driven to heaven by the bishops and priests on which lay people were passengers simply paying their way.”

On the contrary, via Cardijn’s YCW method “young people would be trained to see, judge and act in a Christian manner.”

Nevertheless, a perceived “similarity to Marxist methods” made some bishops and priests “suspicious of the movement and its aims”

Other critics of the movement felt that “by considering the meaning of the gospels and their application to life, (YCW leaders) were making their own religion.”

“This implied that they were forsaking the authority of the Church in religious matters and replacing it with their own authority,” Madden notes.

“Perhaps there was even a sneaking fear that if the movement became widespread and captured the hearts and minds of the majority of young people of the day that the clergy and the hierarchy could become redundant,” he notes.

Nevertheless, “in parishes where the movement was adopted and fostered by clergy, especially younger priests, it became a powerhouse for energising needed and effective Christian activities in those parishes.”

“The primary value of the movement was in the formation of its members,” Madden concludes.

READ THE BOOK

Jim Madden, Eucharistic Blues: Reviewing the Mass Exodus, Fifty Years After Vatican II, Xlbris Corporation, 2012, Kindle Edition