Courageous cultural revolution

Dear Friends,

We open this month's newsletter by announcing our Cardijn Lecture for 2023, which will be presented by Australian-born Dr Alana Harris from King's College in London. Taking as her title, "Reform or Revolution?" she will present the story of the English YCS in that momentous year of change 1968.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis himself has called for a "courageous cultural revolution" among theologians, calling on them to focus their work on the struggles of humanity in the world today. In another significant message marking the 10th anniversary of his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, he also emphasised that the path of redemption lies with the poor.

We also report on a recent presentation by the International YCW at UNESCO focusing on the problems of fake news and social media.

We have a story of a Canadian couple, Joe and Stephanie Mancini, who have made the see-judge-act the centrepiece of their apostolate with the poor.

In his latest Gospel enquiry, Pat Branson reminds us of the Gospel message to let our light shine while Richard Pütz asks whether we are awake or sleepwalking in our responses to social issues.

We note that American Bishop Robert Barron was one Synod participant who emphasised the need to revive the lay apostolate as understood by Vatican II.

I have an article re-examining a 1964 proposal from the lay movements including YCW, YCS and their adult counterparts for a Vatican lay body based on representation and participation.

And I conclude with another article recalling the life of Cardijn's mum, Louise Van Dalen Cardijn, who played such a formative role in the development of her son.

Last but not least, special thanks to those who contributed to our Black Friday Appeal to raise money for the purchase of a set of historic Cardijn photos. We've now achieved our minimum target. But if you'd like to help ensure we have funds on hand for the future, here's the direct donation link.

Stefan Gigacz
Cardijn Lecture 2023: Reform or Revolution? The English YCS in 1968
ACI is pleased to announce that the Cardijn Lecture for 2023 will be presented on Thursday 13 December 2023 by Dr Alana Harris from King’s College, London.
The topic of her lecture will be “Reform or Revolution? The English Young Christian Students and their Pursuit of a Spiritual ’68.”

Originally from Shepparton, Victoria, Dr Alana Harris is a Reader in Modern British Social, Cultural, and Gender History at King’s College London, having previously acted as the Director of Liberal Arts and taught as a Fellow at Lincoln College, University of Oxford.


Thursday 14 December 2023, 7pm AEDT (8am UK)

Path of redemption marked by the poor: Pope Francis
In a message for the 10th anniversary of his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope re-emphasised that the Church’s evangelising mission and our Christian life “cannot disregard the poor."

“The entire path of our redemption is marked by the poor. Everything,” the pope said.

Jesus himself, he observed, was born in a stable, worked with his hands, and put the poor and dispossessed “at the center of His heart.”

He said the Church must resist any attempt to relativise Jesus’ “clear, direct, simple and eloquent message…because our salvation is at stake here.”

“Therefore, the Pope cannot help but place the poor at the centre,” he said. “It is not politics, sociology, or ideology; it is simply and purely the requirement of the Gospel.”


Path of redemption marked by the poor: Pope Francis (ACI)
Theology needs a courageous cultural revolution: Francis
What the world and the Church need today is “a fundamentally contextual theology,” writes Pope Francis in a new Motu Proprio entitled Ad theologiam promovendam.
Published on 1 November 2023, the document updates the statutes of the Pontifical Academy of Theology.

The objective is to ensure that the work of the academy is “more suited to the mission that our times impose on theology."

Opening up to the world and to humanity, “with its problems, its wounds, its challenges, its potential”, theological reflection must make room for “an epistemological and methodological rethinking”, and is therefore called to “a courageous cultural revolution,” Pope Francis says.


Theology needs a courageous cultural revolution: Pope Francis (ACI)
IYCW warns against fake news
Addressing the 42nd Session of the General Conference of UNESCO in Paris from 7-22 November 2023, IYCW president, Basma Louis, stressed the importance of raising awareness among young people by providing training spaces to compensate for the failure of public institutions.

She also warned of the dangers of social media.

“Social media have become a space for unchecked information; fake news and historical revisionism have flooded them and are promoted by those who profit from the distortion of history,” Ms Louis stated.


IYCW warns against fake news (ACI/IYCW)
See, judge act in service of the poor and unemployed
After Joe and Stephanie Mancini graduated in 1982 from St Jerome’s University, a federated partner of the University of Waterloo, they opened  The Working Centre in downtown Kitchener to serve people facing unemployment and poverty in the community, reports Jaime Philip from St Jerome’s University.

The couple saw the potential for building a community of interest around responding to unemployment and poverty, developing social analysis and engaging in creative action.

“Modelling Catholic Action’s ‘see, judge, act’ methodology of social analysis, since 1982, Joe and Stephanie’s work has promoted justice and improved the lives of so many in our community,” says Peter Meehan, president and vice-chancellor of St Jerome’s University. 


Canadian couple serve poor and unemployed (ACI)
Gospel: Let your light shine
The Gospel Enquiry is always about Jesus first and then us as his followers and co-workers, writes Pat Branson. This dynamic, this movement is what is called “evangelisation.” Jesus says something, does something, which defines who he is and his mission. Jesus is a storyteller.

He tells simple stories to confront us with ourselves and to encourage us to live in the way God intends us to live. The Gospel is indeed “good news.”

It is first, good news about Jesus, who he is and what he says and does; and it is good news about us and about how we can live like him. We are gifted with hope through receiving the Gospel with a joyful heart, mind, spirit and soul.


Let your light shine! (Cardijn Reflections)


Thilipen Rave Kumar (Pexels)

Reflection: Are we awake or are we sleepwalking?
The Cardijn method of See-Judge-Act is something that takes some practice, writes Richard Pütz. Mentally or academically, we say to ourselves, “I got this down pretty well.” Then, we find ourselves in a situation and struggle to use it quickly or even methodically. It is that human moment of “when the pressure is on, our brains take a nap.” If you are a TV Jeopardy fan, you always see this. Even you know the answer, but the three of them on stage have that “deer in a headlight look.

If you find yourself at your weekly, bi-weekly, or maybe monthly :) Attendance at the liturgy and find yourself figuratively “sleeping walking” through the homily, try this: Listen to the gospel and then think about the story, the message, and the parable that Jesus is telling us about the Kingdom of God here and now. Think about it through the lens of the Cardijn method. Apply the See-Judge-Act process to what you are hearing and what you are experiencing, reflect on past actions and behaviours, and discern if you got it right or if the change is in order.


Richard Pütz, Are we awake, or are we sleepwalking? (Cardijn Reflections)


Denys Mikhalevych / Pexels
Bishop Barron backs lay vocation
Bishop Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire ministries and bishop of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota in the USA, has said that he emphasised the vocation of lay people during the First Assembly of the Synod on Synodality in Rome in October 2023.

“A question that I raised several times in the small group conversations,” however, ” he wrote on his blog, “was whether, in our enthusiasm to include people in the governance of the Church, we forget that the vocation of 99 percent of the Catholic laity is to sanctify the world, to bring Christ into the arenas of politics, the arts, entertainment, communication, business, medicine, etc., precisely where they have special competence."


Barron highlights vocation of the 99% (ACI)
A representative Vatican body for the laity
As the Synthesis from the First Assembly of the Synod on Synodality noted, the promotion of missionary synodality requires “the establishment and configuration of councils and advisory bodies at which representatives of lay associations and ecclesial movements and new communities can meet in order to foster enduring relationships between their life and work and that of the local churches.” (Synthesis Chapter 10, §i)

"What might such a configuration look like?," asks Stefan Gigacz.

As it happens, leaders and chaplains of several lay apostolate movements, including Joseph Cardijn, sketched out their own answer to this question at a July 1964 meeting to prepare for the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council, which was to discuss the Schema on the Church.


Stefan Gigacz, A representative Vatican body for laity (Synodal Reflections)
Remembering Louise Van Dalen, Cardijn's mum
On 6 December 2023, it will be 100 years since the death of Cardijn’s mother, Louise Van Dalen. Cardijn spoke about her many times and was obviously very close to her. But how much do we really know about his mother?

Louise Van Dalen was born in 1850 in the town of Suvereto, nearly 90km south of Livorno in Italy, where her father managed a farm for a Belgian landowner for more than ten years.


Stefan Gigacz, Louise Van Dalen (Cardijn Research)
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.
Australian Cardijn Institute Cooperative Ltd
Incorporated in 2018
(Cooperatives National Law Application Act 2013)
ABN: 19211591334
A charity registered with the ACNC
Corresponding member of Pax Romana-ICMICA
(Please consider making a bequest to ACI in your will)
Registered Address: 56 Austin Rd, Seaford, Vic, 3198
Current members: Please transfer $12 to our account to renew for 2021-22.
New members: $25 including joining fee, 3 shares and membership for the first year. Join online here:
Account name: Australian Cardijn Institute Cooperative
Bank: Great Southern Bank BSB: 814282 A/c No.: 51304905
facebook twitter instagram