Francis at Ten

Dear Friends,

This month we begin with a report on a significant US conference marking the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis' pontificate at which an ACI panel was privileged to be able to share Cardijn's vision of promoting integral human development.

We remember Marc Sangnier, the French lay activist whose movement, Le Sillon, so influenced Cardijn, and his conception of democracy. We recall the centenary of the birth of Belgian/Brazilian liberation theologian, Jose Comblin.

We have an enquiry series by Greg Lopez examining how Catholic organisations respect the dignity of workers and work while Pat Branson shares a reflection on initiating change.

ATF Press presents a new volume on the history of YCS in Australia that traces the movement's transition from humble classroom beginnings until its "radicalisation" during the 1970s.

We also now have the video of Sr Maureen's March webinar on "The Women of Vatican II," a resource on development by Caroline Pezzullo,
And we finish with another remarkable quote from philosopher, Simone Weil.

See you next month!

Stefan Gigacz
Francis at 10: A papacy of possibilities
St Ambrose's University at Davenport, Iowa, USA hosted a major conference in March to mark the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis' pontificate.

Architect and major sponsor of the event was former US YCS leader, Tom Higgins, later a state congressman and a member of the Carter administration, with keynote speakers including Austen Ivereigh, Phyllis Zagano, Tony Annett, Massimo Faggioli, Kerry Alys Robinson and Cardinal Joe Tobin..

The conference also hosted a panel on “Promoting Integral Human Development; From Cardijn to Pope Francis.” It featured:

Ana Grande, who spoke about her uncle, Blessed Rutilio Grande, the Salvadoran Jesuit and see-judge-act practitioner, whose martyrdom inspired Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Elias Crim, founder of Solidarity Hall, an initiative to promote the implementation of Catholic Social teaching, who spoke on Fr Josemaria Arizmendi and the Mondragon cooperatives.

Stefan Gigacz, who traced the links between Cardijn’s vision and methods and those of Pope Francis.


Pope Francis at 10 (ACI)
Webinar: Marc Sangnier, the Sillon and the YCW
Stefan Gigacz, will present our April webinar marking the 150th anniversary of the birth on 3 April 1873 of Marc Sangnier, founder of the French democratic movement, Le Sillon, which had such a great influence on Cardijn and the YCW.

Deeply impressed by Sangnier’s movement, young Cardijn would later describe it as “the greatest surge of faith and apostolate that France has known since the Revolution.”

In 1950, Holy See nuncio, Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII, would characterise Marc Sangnier as the greatest influence on his early priesthood.
Listen to the story of this remarkable man and his movement at our April webinar on Saturday 15 April.


Webinar: Marc Sangnier, the Sillon and the YCW (ACI)


Tuesday 11 April, 7.30pm (AEST)

Enquiry: The dignity of work and workers in Catholic organisations
“The Catholic Church has much to say about work and the rights and duties of workers. Catholic Social Teachings on work begin with the dignity of the human person and an understanding that work is for the common good.” [Dixon et al., 2017]

Do Australian Catholic organisations bring this to reality – to the employees of their organisations? asks Greg Lopez in a series of enquiry articles for Cardijn Reflections.


Australian Catholic organisations, and the dignity of work and workers (Cardijn Reflections)

Australian Catholic organisations as employers of choice (Cardijn Reflections)

They do not practice what they preach (Cardijn Reflections)
History: From school rooms to a radicalised student movement
ATF Press will launch the next issue of Cardijn Studies featuring a collection of essays and interviews from those who were involved in the late 1960s through to the early 1980s in the Young Christian Student movement (YCS) with a webinar on 20 April 2023.

Contributors include: Linda Baker (full-time YCS worker in Perth and the National Office in the 1970’s and early 1980s), Trevor Bate (Regional Victorian worker in the early 1970s), Carmel Brown (full-time worker in Melbourne in the early 1970s), Mark Considine (National full-time worker in the early 1970s), Brian Lawrence (National Secretary and President in the 1960s), Anthony Regan (full-time worker in Adelaide 1969 and 1970), Pat Walsh ( 1968–1978, chaplain in the Ballarat diocese then as national chaplain) and Cathy Whewell (Adelaide full-time worker 1974–1975).


Cardijn Studies Launch: From Catholic school rooms to a radicalised student movement

Tuesday 20 April 2023, 5pm Adelaide

Resource: Women and Development
Former US YCW leader, Caroline Pezzullo, who represented the movement at the United Nations in New York, later became a noted expert in the field of women and development.

In the mid-1980s she became leader and board member of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women (NCNW), where she co-designed the Annual Institute on Women and Community Development. Caroline’s vision of a network of grassroots women’s organizations that would act and speak on their own behalf in global development arenas became Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood (GROOTS).

Based on this experience and her knowledge of the see-judge-act method, she wrote a set of guidelines on project planning and development entitled simply “Women and Development” for the UN.


Women and development (Cardijn Reflections)
Reflection: Act to end the great scandal
Mahatma Gandhi at work 1931
Concerning the role of the YCW in the world, Fr Joseph Cardijn stated in 1945: “Our task is to put an end to the great scandal of the nineteenth century – the loss of the masses by the Church.” Why did the Church lose “the masses”?

The Industrial Revolution brought with it the introduction of the factory system. The guild system collapsed and people moved from the countryside to the cities. All the masses had to sell was their labour; they became easy victims of exploitation, which Pope Leo XIII described as “a yoke little better than that of slavery itself.” in his encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891, n.3).

Mahatma Gandhi has been credited with saying that if we want to change the world, we first must change ourselves. What are some ways of doing this, of being a disciple of Jesus who promotes the place of the Master in people’s daily lives?

The starting point has to be with ourselves. A simple action would be reading from the Gospels each day. To read the scriptures prayerfully is an act of worship.


Pat Branson, Act to end the great scandal (Cardijn Reflections)
Centenary of the birth of liberation theologian, José Comblin
March also marks the centenary of the birth of Belgian/Brazilian liberation theologian and YCW chaplain, Fr José Comblin.

Comblin initially went to work as a missionary in Chile from 1962-65 and then to Brazil at the invitation of Dom Helder Camara.

He organised several campaigns of popular evangelisation in rural areas (which he described as “theology of the spade”) and participated in the creation of the first “base communities.”

He also became a YCW chaplain in Campinas, Brazil.

His political activism and his publications provoked the irritation of the Brazilian and Chilean military regimes, which expelled him in 1972 and 1980 respectively.

Authorised to return to Brazil in 1980, he continued his mission of evangelization among the poor, while publishing numerous works, including Teologia da libertaç ão, teologia neoconservadora e teologia liberal (“Theology of liberation, neo- conservative and liberal theology”) in 1985.

José Comblin died on March 27, 2011 in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.


Jose Comblin (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)
Cardijn on democracy
One aspect of Cardijn’s personality that is often overlooked is his commitment to the promotion of democracy based on what he called “democratic virtue.”
How to achieve this? Through education and organisation.

In an article written in June 1919 — just months after the end of World War I – for the launch issue of a new Belgian magazine called “Le démocrat” (The Democrat), a title clearly inspired by the Sillon’s own daily newspaper, La démocratie (Democracy), Cardijn explains his conception of democracy based on education for democratic virtue.


Joseph Cardijn, Cardijn, promoter of democracy (Cardijn Reflections)
Video: Sr Maureen Sullivan OP, The Women of Vatican II
Thanks to American Dominican Sister Maureen Sullivan OP, who presented the ACI webinar for March 2023 on the theme “The Women of Vatican II.”



Webinar: The women of Vatican II: Sr Maureen Sullivan O.P.
Christian Workers Movement
The Australian Christian Workers movement continues to develop, Kevin Vaughan notes.

To join and/or to receive more information, please write to Kevin at:
Simone Weil: The need for working class formation
Editorial Note: The purpose of the ACI Newsletter is to share information and promote discussion. Citing or linking to articles does not imply any endorsement by ACI of the authors' views.
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