Christmas blessings

Dear Friends,

Christmas greetings! Christmas blessings too!

Indeed, the word "blessings" has taken on a new significance this month with the Holy See Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith's declaration that blessings may be given to same sex couples and indeed others in canonically "irregular" relationships. We begin this issue with an analysis of this change in the Church's praxis by Michael Sean Winters of America magazine.

I follow with a commentary on another major Vatican statement, namely Pope Francis' new apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum, aimed particularly at global leaders gathered at COP283.

We feature a report on the YCW in Malta, which is in the frontline of the global migration issue, has a hard-hitting statement on the exploitation of migrants.

And we have the video of Alana Harris' magnificent Cardijn lecture exploring the changes in the English YCS sparked by the epochal events of 1968.

Richard Pütz shares his review of Raymond Friel's new book on Catholic Social Teaching underpinned by See Discern Act. And he also has a highly appropriate Christmas reflection on Bethlehem, which we illustrate with a crib created by a Palestinian pastor, showing Jesus born in the midst of rubble.

In another Christmas special, Hilary Regan of ATF Press offers a special 15% discount on a range of books and journals featuring key figures in the history of the jocist movementsn, including Albert Nolan, Bob Wilkinson and Yves Congar..

Pat Branson's latest Gospel Enquiry focuses on Jesus' famous call to his followers to be salt and light in the world.

On a historical level, I have an article on Cardijn's powerful response and critique of the Vatican Council of the Laity as constituted by Pope Paul VI in 1967. Cardijn rarely criticised a pope or other Vatican officials. But on this occasion, he did not hold back from expressing his disappointment.

Cardijn's critique is still valid, as I also explained at a webinar with Sr Nathalie Becquart of the Synod of Bishops and myself hosted by the IMCS and the International Youth Training Centre earlier this month.

We conclude with a Christmas illustration from 1930 highlighting the struggles of shift workers labouring throughout the night.

Remembering all victims of armed conflict, particularly in Palestine and Israel, we wish you the peace that Jesus brings.

And please enjoy your Christmas reading!

Stefan Gigacz
A new Vatican document on blessings
Pope Francis is known as a pope of surprises, and his decision to approve a document that cracked open the door to blessing same-sex unions and other “irregular” couples is a big one, writes Michael Sean Winters at the National Catholic Reporter.

The shift Francis intends is, at once, less exact and more profound than a doctrinal shift. What Francis has been trying to achieve for many years is to relocate the place of doctrine within the magisterium of the church, specifically to insist that doctrine serve the good of souls, not the other way round.


How big a deal is the new Vatican document on same-sex blessings? (National Catholic Reporter)

Fiducia Supplicans (


Michelle Grewe / Flickr
Pope challenges world leaders on environment
In one of the most powerful and hard-hitting documents of his pontificate, Pope Francis has challenged humanity to address the “indubitable impact of climate change” on “our suffering planet” that he fears will devastate the lives of people around the world, and particularly the poorest.

Entitled Laudate Deum, which means “Praise God,” the pope’s new apostolic exhortation comes on the eighth anniversary of his groundbreaking 2015 environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’, which he fears has not had the impact he desired.


Stefan Gigacz, Save our suffering planet: Pope Francis’ appeal (ACI/CDF)

Pope Francis, Laudate Deum (
Maltese YCW denounces migrant exploitation
The Maltese YCW has denounced the exploitation and ghettoisation of migrant workers in a strongly worded statement marking the UN’s International Migrants Day, Newsbook reports.

Each year, the day is marked on 18 December, and this year, the UN secretary-general António Guterres highlighted the need for safe migration governance rooted in solidarity, partnership and respect for human rights.

In its statement, the Maltese YCW (ŻĦN in Maltese) observed that while migration is often a purely economical choice, some are forcefully displaced and often taken perilous journeys which may turn out to be fatal.

Maltese YCW denounces migrant exploitation
Book Review: Raymond Friel's 'Catholic Social Teaching'
Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is sometimes called the Church's best-kept secret, writes Richard Pütz. It is our most straightforward way to understand the teachings of Jesus, especially when we read the parables.

A place to start and to know where to begin is to go back and read MT 5-6-7 & 25. Then, read Raymond Friel's new book, "Catholic Social Teachings": An "Introduction for Schools, parishes and Charities.


Richard Pütz, "Catholic Social Teaching: An Introduction for schools, parishes and charities" by Raymond Friel (Cardijn Reflections)
15% Christmas discount from ATF Press
Albert Nolan, Yves Congar, Marie-Dominique Chenu, Bob Wilkinson and the Australian YCS all feature in a special Christmas book offer for ACI members and friends.

Thanks to executive officer, Hilary Regan, himself a former YCS leader, ATF Press is offering a 15% Christmas discount on a range of books and journals, including Cardijn Studies.

Video: Cardijn Lecture - Dr Alana Harris - The English YCS in '68
This is the video of our 2023 Cardijn Lecture by Dr Alana Harris from King’s College London.

Alana's lecture addressed the theme “Reform or Revolution? The English Young Christian Students and their Pursuit of a Spiritual ’68.”

Gospel: Salt and light
Jesus said to his followers, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its salty taste, it cannot be made salty again. It is good for nothing, except to be thrown out and walked on.

Who are the apostles of today? asks Pat Branson in this month's Gospel Enquiry. As I worked on this Gospel Enquiry, my mind was distracted by the thought that the Christmas I see advertised on TV lacks the influence of apostolic figures. God’s ambassadors are nowhere to be seen on commercial TV. There is no salt, only sweetness; and no light, except for the “heavenly” voices of choirs singing medleys of favourite Christmas songs. Let them be God’s ambassadors reminding us of the coming of Christ.


Pat Branson, Being salt and light (Cardijn Reflections)
Reflection: Is YOUR Bethlehem important?
We are in the Christmas season. We are hearing scripture readings that all relate to the birth of Jesus. But what do we do when no historical facts or documents support our stories? What and how did the stories come to be? And where do we discover the truth in the stories?

Was Jesus born in Bethlehem? Why the Gospels disagree over the circumstances of Christ's birth is something historians try to figure out. But in the story, the truth is often in plain sight and sometimes slightly hidden.


Richard Pütz, Is YOUR Bethlehem important? (Cardijn Reflections)
History: Cardijn's devastating critique of the 1967 Council of the Laity
In January 1967, just 15 months after the conclusion of Vatican II, Pope Paul VI established the new long-awaited Council of the Laity.

But Cardijn was not happy. Four weeks later, he wrote to Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Dell'Acqua, expressing the grave disappointment he and lay movement leaders felt at the non-representative nature of the new body.

Instead of the bottom-up, collaborative dialogue body they had hoped for, the new structure simply followed the model of existing Vatican bodies.

In this article, Stefan Gigacz analyses Cardijn's devastating critique.


Stefan Gigacz, Cardijn's devastating critique of the 1967 Vatican Council of the Laity (Synodal Reflections)
Webinar: Synodality and the experience of lay movements
The International Youth Training Centre recently opened by the International Movement of Catholics Students in Chiang Mai, Thailand has hosted a webinar on synodality with Sr Nathalie Becquart, sub-secretary of the Synod, and ACI Secretary, Stefan Gigacz.

Sr Nathalie explained the work of the Synod to date while Stefan examined the Synod's operation and decisions to date from the perspective of lay movements.

Christmas with the night shift team - Belgian JOC magazine, December 1930
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 $25 to our account to renew for 2023-24.
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