New shockwaves – Rediscovering Cardijn’s vision

New shockwaves – Rediscovering Cardijn’s vision of lay apostolate

Cardijn Symposium, Chennai,

23 February 2008

I.   Introduction – Rediscovering Cardijn

“Is Cardijn passe or yet to be discovered?’ – Title of talk by former IYCW president, Romeo Maione, 1971

First of all, please allow me to express my gratitude for the opportunity to be with you today. At the end of 1980 when I was a young fulltimer for the YCW in Melbourne Australia, I was chosen to attend the 6th IYCW International Council which was to be held in Bangalore in December of that year. So it’s quite moving to be here for this conference and to hear that finally the World Council will be held here later this year.

Now, I would like to begin with a question posed in 1971 by former IYCW president, Romeo Maione, who asked “Is Cardijn passe (outdated) or yet to be discovered?” As you can imagine, his answer was the latter: the world is yet to discover Cardijn – a statement which is still true nearly 40 years later.

But perhaps if we are to help the world discover Cardijn, we also need to rediscover him for ourselves. And Cardijn gave us a clue as to how to do this in some pages of notes that he wrote at end of his life where he set out how we would like the history of the YCW to be written.

“If we are going to do useful work and create shockwaves,” he wrote, it is necessary to study the beginnings of the YCW from 1912 – and even to study “the preparation of its beginnings”.

When I began work on researching the history of the YCW nearly 15 years ago, this phrase certainly struck me. What did he mean by creating shockwaves? Writing the history of the beginnings of the movement would create shockwaves? How and why?

In any event, I endeavoured to take Cardijn’s advice seriously and I did set out to follow the method he outlined. Today I would like to present to you some of the discoveries that I made during my research which did indeed “produce shockwaves” inside me as Cardijn had predicted.

II.  Rediscovering the sources of Cardijn’s thinking

III.                     Rediscovering Cardijn and the beginnings of the YCW


In one of his notes, Cardijn lists his principal reading at various stages of his life.

From the age of 14 to 18, which you will remember, was when he was in the minor seminary, he says that he read “The Lamennais School”.

Fr Felicite de Lamennais was a French priest who grew up during the French Revolution and gained fame initially as a staunch defender of the Church. By the 1820s, however, he faced growing disillusion with the Church and with its conservative response to the emergence of democracy and to the problems of the industrial revolution.

He also preached freedom of conscience – and was eventually excommunicated for his views. Freed from the constraints of the institutional Church he began to write a series of tracts and books including the famous “Words of a believer” – an extraordinarily poetic and powerful condemnation of the social problems and poverty of that time – published in 1834 – nearly 15 years before Marx and Engel’s Communist Manifesto.

I have read the original French version of Lamennais book and even today it literally produces goose pimples on the flesh. One can only imagine the impact such a book must have had on the teenaged Cardijn.

The Sillon or Furrow movement of Marc Sangnier

From the age of 18-25, which covers the period of his major seminary formation, ordination and university studies at Louvain, Cardijn lists the French Catholic youth movement (ACJF) and the Sillon or Furrow movement founded by Marc Sangnier as his principal formative sources.

The story of the Sillon is also an extraordinary story. In 1921, when Cardijn invited Marc Sangnier to visit Brussels as an “international apostle”, he described the Sillon as “the greatest flowering of the lay apostolate since the Middle Ages”.

And when you study the Sillon movement, which only existed for around 15 years from its beginnings in a Paris Catholic college, Stanislas College in 1894, until its disappearance in 1910, there is no doubt that the Sillon provided the template or the prototype from which the YCW and other specialized Catholic Action movements were modeled.

It was certainly the first lay movement in the Church and it caused such a stir that it was eventually closed down after a savage campaign by conservative Catholics led Pope Pius X to call upon Marc Sangnier and the movement’s leaders to resign – which they did – but which also caused the death of the movement.

The Sillon described itself as a democratic movement at a time when many French Catholics still dreamed of a restoration of the monarchy in France.

It developed a definition of democracy as follows:

“Democracy is the social system which maximizes the civic consciousness and responsibility of each person.”

Note that in French the word for consciousness is “conscience” which has a double meaning as both “conscience” and “consciousness” in English. So, like Lamennais, the Sillon were attacked for promoting freedom of conscience as part of their promotion of political democracy.

The Sillon also developed what they described as a “method of democratic education” which they derived from the work of a pioneering French sociologist and reformer Frederic LePlay.

LePlay had promoted a method of systematic social enquiry or surveys as a means to identify social problems and to provide solutions.

The Sillon took LePlay’s enquiry method and turned it into a method of democratic education in which the enquiries would be carried out not by experts and academics but by young people and others involved in the issues.

LePlay was also close to a now forgotten French philosopher Leon Olle-Laprune, whom Cardijn also lists as one of his major formative influences in his teenage years along with Alphonse Gratry.

Olle-Laprune’s major philosophical work was “Le prix de la vie”, a title which also has a double meaning and can be translated as either the price or the prize of life. Olle-Laprune defined life as action and anticipating Cardijn he often wrote of the need to “see and judge’ or “see, judge and conclude”.

And indeed seeing, judging and acting was precisely the objective of the Sillon enquiry method.

So when Cardijn later started using the phrase “see, judge, act”, people knew exactly what he was referring to – the method of democratic education pioneered by the Sillon.

We also know that Cardijn learnt the enquiry method of LePlay from his professor at Louvain, Victor Brants, who was a disciple of LePlay.

During the summer of 1907, Brants also sent Cardijn on a kind of exposure tour of France and Switzerland (in fact, LePlay was also a pioneer of what we today call immersion or exposure programs). It is clear from the places he visited that Cardijn was following the trail of the Sillon in France.

In the middle of that trip, however, he was also called back to Belgium by his bishop, Cardinal Mercier, who had decided to send Cardijn to teach Latin in a country high school. It therefore seems quite clear that Mercier was trying to move Cardijn out of reach of the influence of the Sillon.

Cardijn and Marie Possoz

Actually, there is also another reason that Cardinal Mercier had called Cardijn back and banished him – which also reveals more about Cardijn’s character and his youthful vision of lay apostolate.

Cardijn had a childhood friend, Emile Possoz, with whom he often shared his dream of spreading the Sillon in Belgium.

Possoz also had a younger sister, Marie, with whom Cardijn also corresponded.

Now a young priest is still a man – and who knows if Cardijn also felt some romantic attraction to Marie? But he never compromised his calling to the priesthood. On the contrary, he wrote to Marie encouraging and exhorting her to be like him in devoting her whole life to the apostolate – even suggesting that they create some kind of community in which she could live out that commitment.

Marie was more than willing to do this as she also shared Cardijn’s dream and vision.

However, her father discovered her correspondence with Cardijn and was so shocked that he immediately went to see Cardinal Mercier who responded as we know by banishing Cardijn.

But Marie’s own dream was also destroyed by this discovery and she died still very young of illness only a couple of years later.

It is a poignant and tragic story – but it also reveals to us much of Cardijn’s character – and his willingness to challenge and even demand a total commitment.

Rediscovering Ben Tillett, the Christian socialist

During the wilderness teaching Latin at Basse Wavre, Cardijn nevertheless maintained his commitment to social issues and continued to travel around Europe during his summer breaks to investigate the latest social innovations.

In 1911, he visited England where he met with a number of social reformers including Scouts founder Baden Powell.

But the person who had the greatest impact on him was a trade union organizer, Ben Tillett, who had organized a major strike in 1889.

On his return to Belgium, Cardijn wrote a powerful article describing the educative work that Tillet was developing among his trade unionists.

Ben Tillett became for Cardijn a model of the kind of worker leader that he wanted to develop.

But once back in Belgium there was one thing that Cardijn never mentioned about Tillett.

Tillett identified himself as a “Christian socialist” – but in the prevailing climate in Belgium and in the Church, it is clear that Cardijn could not mention this fact. In their biography of Cardijn, Marguerite Fievez and Jacques Meert also fail to mention this fact although they highlight Tillett’s influence on Cardijn.

Here we learn the need to read between the lines and to know the context in which Cardijn did and said (or failed to say) so many things.

It is evident that Tillett’s Christian socialist beliefs were a key factor in Cardijn’s attraction to his work. But he could not say it publicly.

Yet at the same time, to those who had ears to hear, the mere mention of Tillett’s name by Cardijn immediately identified Cardijn with the Christian socialist movement.

IV.                    Rediscovering Cardijn and the beginnings of the YCW

Rediscovering Cardijn at Laeken

Finally, in 1912, Cardinal Mercier judged that enough time had passed and appointed Cardijn, who was nearly 30, to his first – and only – parish, Our Lady’s at Laeken.

And who is the first person with whom he partners to start his organizing work among young girl workers? Victoire Cappe, a young woman from Liege in the east of Belgium and the founder of the Needleworkers Union.

A biography of Victoire Cappe reveals that she had been formed in social action by a Liege priest who was a chaplain to the Sillon group which had existed in that city.

So it is evident that Cardijn and Cappe shared a common approach and method in their work. In fact, Victoire also published a book in which one chapter sets out a method of organization and formation clearly based on the Sillon methodology and very close to the methods that the YCW would also use.

Moreover, within weeks of his arrival at Laeken, Cardijn also received a visit from 17 year old Fernand Tonnet, who would later become famous as one of the “founder trio” of the YCW.

Young Tonnet had just moved back to Brussels from Quievrain which is on the border of France. In that parish he had also learned methods of social organization from a local priest, Fr Abrassart, who was also a disciple of the Sillon.

So too was Fernand Tonnet and it is clear that this was also the source of his attraction to Cardijn.

Although I have not been able to verify it, I think it is highly likely that directly or indirectly Madeleine De Roo, Cardijn’s other principal collaborator was also formed by the Sillon.

This is certainly the case in France where Fr Georges Guerin, the founder of the French YCW, had actually been a member of the Sillon.

It is also clear that the YCW in many other parts of France was also started by priests and people who had previously been close to the Sillon.

Rediscovering Cardijn and Pope Pius XI

This connection to the Sillon helps explain both the success of the early YCW but also its problems.

As mentioned, the Sillon had been closed down in 1910 on fears over its democratic an political orientation, its consciousness raising methods and its autonomy as a lay movement in the Church.

Now only a few years later, here we find Cardijn trying to create a new movement clearly modeled on the Sillon and which was in fact accused of being a revival of the Sillon.

Nevertheless, it was also true that there were many people in the Church who were devastated by the closure of the Sillon – and clearly regarded Pope Pius X condemnation as a mistake.

These people included the newly elected Pope Pius XI. Within a few weeks of his election as pope, he sent a letter of greetings to a conference on peace and democracy organized by Sillon founder Marc Sangnier – a conference that was also attended by Cardijn.

It seems that Pope Pius XI was actively seeking to encourage those who were working in the line of the Sillon.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that the Sillon had been closed down in 1910 – which helps explain the continuing caution of Cardinal Mercier towards the new young workers movement that Cardijn was building.

It is also significant that the contacts in Rome who helped Cardijn in 1925 to obtain his famous meeting with Pope Pius XI were the same priests who had previously assisted the Sillon prior to 1910.

So when Cardijn finally obtained his audience with Pius XI and the pope gave his approval to the young YCW, it was clearly understood as in effect a reversal of the “condemnation” of the Sillon in 1910.

This approval opened the floodgates to the YCW – all those priests and others who had been loyal to the Sillon now focused their energies on promoting the YCW which explains the rapid growth of the movement from 1925.

Pope Pius XI also made another highly significant comment during his 1925 audience with Cardijn when he said that the “greatest tragedy of the 19th century was that the Church had lost the working class”.

In fact, Pius XI was not the first to say this – it was a common reflection among those who were close to the Sillon. By using that phrase, Pope Pius XI confirmed that he was on the same wavelength as the Sillon.

Moreover, the loss of the working class by the Church was not a slow process of attrition over the course of the 19th century. The real meaning of the phrase referred to the events of 1848 in France and Europe which was also sometimes known in France as the Workers Revolution.

Frederic Ozanam and other Catholic progressives of that period including of course Lamennais had backed the Worker Revolution and called on the church to also support the workers.

But the Church was still dominated by conservative currents with the result that when the counter-revolution came in the summer of 1848, most of the church sided with the authoritarian government of Napoleon III.

According to Ozanam and others, this was the moment at which the Church had lost the working class – an analysis later shared by the Sillon and other Catholic democrats – and also by Cardijn and Pope XI.

Rediscovering the YCW “Founder Trio”

I have mentioned Fernand Tonnet who is known to us in YCW history as one of the “founder trio” – along with Paul Garcet and Jacques Meert.

Now Fernand Tonnet was born in 1894 and came to join Cardijn from his arrival at Laeken in 1912. Jacques Meert who was born in 1901 – seven years younger than Tonnet – only came to the embryonic movement in 1919. Garcet had come onto the scene about 1914.

But it started to seem to me a bit odd that Cardijn should refer to both Tonnet and Meert as co-founders when Meert had arrived so much later. Moreover, what about the role of Victoire Cappe and Madeleine De Roo?

It gradually dawned on me that when Cardijn spoke of the “founder trio’ he was not making a historical statement but a political statement. It now seems clear to me that with their seven year age gap, Tonnet and Meert represented different tendencies or trends inside the movement.

Tonnet evidently represented what we could call the “Sillon” trend which also helps explain his popularity in France.

But Jacques Meert represented the post World War I generation who had not experienced either the war (in which Tonnet had fought) and who had not known the Sillon. Jacques Meert in fact recruited another young priest to the YCW, Robert Kothen, who would later become Cardijn’s assistant.

Kothen clearly represented what we could the “Catholic Action” trend within the movement and Jacques Meert almost certainly shared similar views. Indeed, when Tonnet eventually resigned as president of the YCW, it was only after what can perhaps be described as a coup that was organized by Kothen and probably Meert. While Cardijn was away on one of his trips, Kothen had called on Tonnet to resign – which he in fact did in 1934.

True, it was probably time for Tonnet to go, since he had reached the age of 40. But it also illustrated the differences between Tonnet and Meert. Moreover, soon after resigning, Tonnet wrote an extremely frank and critical letter to Cardijn in effect criticizing him for having given in to the Catholic Action trend and almost betraying what Tonnet believed to be the original inspiration of the movement.

All this helps us to see that when Cardijn described Tonnet, Garcet and Meert as the “founder trio”, he was making an appeal to unity among the different trends and tendencies within the movement -rather than making a historical statement.

This may also have significance for the YCW today. As we are all painfully aware, the YCW today is still split internationally between the IYCW and the ICYCW. To some extent, we can see that the IYCW is faithful to the Sillonist trend of the movement’s origins while the ICYCW is perhaps closer to the Catholic Action conception of Kothen and Meert. Yet Cardijn himself clearly regarded both trends as legitimate components of the YCW tradition. Will it be possible one day to reunite the movement by recognizing both strands?

V. Rediscovering Cardijn, the bishop

Cardinal and bishop

I would like to turn now to our vision and understanding of the mature Cardinal Cardijn, Council Father at Vatican II.

We are familiar today with the image of Cardinal Cardijn a title with which he was honoured in 1965 by Pope Paul VI, a personal friend who had known Cardijn since he was a young monsignor in the Vatican in the 1940s.

However, if we think of famous figures in the Church who have been nominated as cardinals, it does not follow that they will also become a bishop. Historically, the original cardinals were the priests and deacons of the Rome diocese. Today, when a pope nominates a theologian as a cardinal – think of Cardinal Yves Congar or Cardinal Avery Dulles for example – they do not thereby become bishops. Yet, Pope Paul made Cardijn both cardinal AND a bishop. Why did he do so?

In some ways, the answer is obvious. Pope Paul presumably wanted to give Cardijn the right to fully take part in the last session of Vatican II which to be held that year. Moreover, as Pope Paul himself told Cardijn when he expressed his reservations, the pope was making him a bishop FOR THE YCW.

Now the role of the bishop within the church is evidently not merely honorific – it implies a role in the governance of the church, it implies jurisdiction over the Church. What’s more a bishop usually governs a specific territory of the church such as a diocese. A bishop is not created for any simple church association or group. Therefore the question arises as to what Pope Paul’s nomination of Cardijn as a BISHOP as well as cardinal says about the status of the YCW in the Church?

The YCW a “public institution” of the Church

To find the answer to that question we need to go back to 1935 when the YCW held its first International Congress on 25 August 1935.

This was the occasion of a famous “Autograph Letter” by Pope Pius XI addressed to Cardinal Van Roey of Malines Brussels. It was the letter in which Pope Pius XI referred to the YCW as a “genuine or authentic form of Catholic Action”. In other words, the YCW as Cardijn had conceived it was itself a legitimate form of Catholic Action – without any further need for reference or comparison to other groups.

Moreover as I learnt during my canon law studies, the Autograph Letter by Pius XI also had a juridical value as a form of recognition of the YCW within the Church. This view was also confirmed by Cardinal Van Roey himself who stated after receiving the letter that the YCW was now recognized as a “public institution” of the Church. This latter phrase also has a significant juridical meaning in canon law because under the 1917 Code of Canon Law which was then in force, a public institution of the Church by definition enjoyed legal personality in the Church.

Now this was and remains a rare phenomenon in the Catholic Church with the only other institutions enjoying such a status being institutions such as dioceses, seminaries and the like. Yet here we find Cardinal Van Roey – and Cardijn – on the basis of Pope Pius XI’s letter describing the YCW as a public institution of the Church. This fits perfectly with Pope Paul’s appointment of Cardijn 30 years later as a bishop for the YCW as a public institution of the Church.

A “personal prelature”?

If the above analysis is correct, the question arises as to what is the status of the YCW as a “public institution of the church” under the new Code of Canon Law of 1983. The answer to this question, which may also create shockwaves, is also to be found in the documents of Vatican II.

During the Council many bishops who were sympathetic to the lay movements (YCS, YCW, MIJARC etc) wanted to address the issue of the canonical status of the movements within the church. A group of around 15 of those bishops and cardinals who included Montini (before he became pope) and many other prelates who were close to the movements recommended the established of special structures for these movements.

Their recommendation was incorporated in Paragraph 10 of the document, Presbyterorum Ordinis.

Present norms of incardination and excardination should be so revised that, while this ancient institution (ie the priesthood) still remains intact, they will better correspond to today’s pastoral needs. Where a real apostolic spirit requires it, not only should a better distribution of priests be brought about but there should also be favored such particular pastoral works as are necessary in any region or nation anywhere on earth. To accomplish this purpose there should be set up international seminaries, special personal dioceses or prelatures (vicariates), and so forth, by means of which, according to their particular statutes and always saving the right of bishops, priests may be trained and incardinated for the good of the whole Church. – Presbyterorum ordinis, No. 10.

This paragraph was the origin of what is now known in the Church as the personal prelature. After the Council, Pope Paul implemented this recommendation in another legal document or motu proprioEcclesiae sanctae:

4. Moreover, to carry on special pastoral or missionary work for various regions or social groups which are in need of special assistance, prelatures composed of priests from the secular clergy equipped with special training can be usefully established by the Apostolic See. These prelatures are under the government of their own prelate and possess their own statutes.

Note, however, that Ecclesiae Sanctae was only published in 1967 – the same year that Cardijn died. There was no time to consider the implications of this document for the YCW as a public institution of the Church and for him as a bishop. Today, more than 40 years later, there is still only one personal prelature recognized in the Church (Opus Dei). This is an extraordinary and sad irony for an institution which was specifically designed to serve the needs of the Catholic Action movements.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that the YCW in the time of Cardijn already possessed the major characteristics of a personal prelature, namely as a public institution with full public legal personality and with its own prelate of Cardinal and Bishop Joseph Cardijn.

VI.                    Rediscovering the lay apostolate: Cardijn at Vatican II

We have come almost full circle with Cardinal Cardijn now a Council Father at Vatican II.

Let us move towards our conclusion by recalling the content of his three speeches to the Council.

1. First speech, 20 September 1965: Religious freedom

He made his first speech to the Council on 20 September 1965 on the theme of religious liberty.

Emphasising the need for “peaceful unification of a pluralist world” he described the task of the church as “to unite ourselves with all men of good will to build a more human world together based on ‘truth, justice, freedom and love’. In other words, we as Catholics cannot be satisfied only to work with other Catholics – we have an obligation to work with men and women of goodwill of all religions – and even of no religion.

And the fundamental condition, Cardijn told the Council, “for people to live together peacefully and to collaborate fruitfully is a sincere respect for religious freedom”. In Cardijn’s view, religious freedom was the fundamental “means for education in freedom in its fullest sense, which leads to interior freedom, or freedom 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 in every human creature as a natural gift, requires a long education which can be summarised in three points: see, judge and act,” he told the Council.

“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 be sheltered from danger, 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,” he said.

Note again the reference to “conscious and responsible” – code for the Sillon’s methodology.

Note also how much the opening paragraph of the Vatican II Declaration on Religious Freedom reflects this thought:

A sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man,(1) and the demand is increasingly made that men should act on their own judgment, enjoying and making use of a responsible freedom, not driven by coercion but motivated by a sense of duty…. This demand for freedom in human society chiefly regards the quest for the values proper to the human spirit. It regards, in the first place, the free exercise of religion in society.

This Vatican Council takes careful note of these desires in the minds of men. It proposes to declare them to be greatly in accord with truth and justice. To this end, it searches into the sacred tradition and doctrine of the Church – the treasury out of which the Church continually brings forth new things that are in harmony with the things that are old – Vatican II, Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, Paragraph 1

The long battle launched by Felicite de Lamennais has at last been won – after nearly 150 years, the Church has finally recognized legitimate freedom of conscience.

2. Second speech, 23 September 1965: Young people and the Third World

As we can anticipate, Cardijn focused his second speech to the Council on the “responsibility of young people in the building of a better world”.

The demographic situation of the world is such that today young people constitute around half of the whole population of the world. This half of humanity must certainly not be forgotten by the Council if only for the simple reason that it is the most dynamic, that it is called to exercise the greatest influence on the future and that the lives of young people are very different from those of young people in the past….

They are at an age when they must decide their vocation or their service in life. The world in which they enter and begin to work faces new and serious problems. Whether this new world will improve or worsen depends very much on them. If we abandon these young people, if we leave them alone, they will not be able to resolve the problems of their age and of the modern world as they must.

This is why, by this constitution, the Council needs to address a special message to young people today in which it expresses its confidence and encourages them to become conscious of their responsibilities within their respective milieux for both the present and future eras.

Rather than making paternal exhortations addressed towards young people, the Council needs to provide them with a virile consciousness of their responsibilities. The world of today will become whatever they themselves become as a result of the choices that they will freely make.

Once again, Cardijn chooses to emphasise the role of young people in terms borrowed from the Sillon – conscious and responsible. In the same speech he also emphasized what he described as the “the great international injustice f today” – the problems of the developing world.

In its solicitude for the condition of people today, the Church must have the greatest consideration for the general aspiration of the people of the Third World to equality with older nations in every aspect of human life. Both by her concrete understanding of human problems as well as by the divine love in which she participates, and by her missionary action, the Church must do everything in her power to help these young people effectively, while simultaneously deeply respecting their own character.

The faithful of the old Christian nations must, by all means, help relieve the suffering, the present misery and anguish of the Third World. Their assistance must not be limited to money nor technical means and equipment. What these young nations require more than anything else is fraternal education that will enable them to take up the cause of their human and divine development themselves. It will certainly be a historic scandal if the present state of affairs should continue where countries considered to be Christian continue to maintain the possession and use of the greater part of the world’s riches.

3. Third speech, 5 October 1965: Workers

In his third and final speech, he returns once again to the theme that has dominated his whole priestly life, namely “the inhuman situation of the majority of the working world”.

“But the majority and even most of the workers presently experience deplorable and gravely unjust conditions at work as well as in their personal, family, social, cultural and often even political life… These inhuman conditions of life and work, which we cannot detail here because of the lack of time, affect innumerable workers and worker families and constitute for the present world a universal and very serious sin against man and against God.

We can take these three speeches as Cardijn’s testament, encapsulating his vision of the lay apostolate for the modern world. The challenge is greater than ever but Cardijn has traced the path.

VII.                 Conclusion: Cardijn’s new shockwaves

In concluding then, it seems to me that we have discovered or rediscovered plenty of material that will create shockwaves in our own perceptions of Cardijn.

There is also plenty of material there for further research – which is why I rejoice at the initiative to set up a Cardijn Center here in Chennai.

Only by systematic documenting and developing this work can we hope to make Cardijn’s known to this 21st century.

Cardijn, doctor of the Church in the modern world

But we will need help in achieving this task – from Cardijn himself.

Let me conclude then with an appeal also launched by Romeo Maione during our work on the History Project of the YCW in 1998 and that may truly launch shockwaves.

It is time for Cardijn to be recognized not just as a cardinal and bishop but also as a saint and doctor of the Church.

Stefan Gigacz

23 February 2008