A program of Christian democracy

This is the Christian Democratic program presented by Fr Cardijn to the readers of the new daily, Le Démocrate,” wrote Marc Walckiers in his 1981 doctoral thesis on Young Cardijn.

He was referring to the following article published in 1919 just after end of World War I.

In it, Cardijn sets out its aims under three points — doctrine, organisation and program.

 

We have just finished reading the first edition of Le Démocrate (The Democrat). Every friend of Christian democracy will rejoice that we have our own newspaper at last. In it, we loyally and passionately defend our doctrine, our organisation and our program.

OUR DOCTRINE is based on the notion that democracy is fundamentally a question of education and organisation. As long as the great principles of justice, fraternity, responsibility, competence, discipline and authority fail to penetrate our customs and morals, and fail to inspire our institutions and the exercise of power, democracy will exist only in name.

Auction-style acrobatics will lead to a battle of wills. General well-being needs to take priority over individual interest. Free and cordial cooperation must become the basis of all activity.

Only in this way will we manage to avoid demagogic decline and succeed in promoting “social uplifting.”

For us as Christians, truth is found in the Gospel and the doctrine of the Church. This means making it known and adapting it in increasingly concrete terms to the current economic and social conditions that we aim to achieve.

Our trade union, economic, social and educational ORGANISATIONS are like the apple of our eye.

The Right of Association is the best antidote to statism, bureaucracy, incompetency and political exclusivity. Any kind of attack on the right of association, whether practised by violence or through legal means, amounts to a betrayal of democracy.

Trade union freedom, freedom of opinion, conscience and teaching are the only guarantees of a healthy and life-giving public atmosphere. Without this, we will languish in oppression and slavery.

OUR PROGRAM. In our ruined country, the first thing we are aiming for is “reconstruction.” In line with this, we are prepared to make every possible concession to promote collaboration and unity among all patriots.

Tolerance and confidence are democratic virtues. To intensify reconstruction, it will be necessary for the working masses to become more directly involved in production.

While working for the transformation of our economic and political regime, we urgently desire to correct employee abuse by gaining recognition for the vital rights of employees, including minimum salary, maximum working hours and freedom of association.

The housing issue is as urgent as the need for a labour contract.”

SOURCE

Joseph Cardijn, For Christian workers – Le Démocrate (www.josephcardijn.com)

Joseph Wresinski on the events of May 1968

Fr Joseph Wresinski was a former French JOC lay leader who became a priest and later founded a movement now called ATD Quart Monde which aims to reach out to the people of “the third world who live in the first world,” hence, the name “Fourth World.”

The student and worker demonstrations of Paris in May 1968 caused him to reflect deeply.

“In 1968, I saw all these young people full of intelligence, with considerable possibilities, and I said to myself:” They are losing their time to make discussions whereas in the poor districts, there are millions of ‘children who can not even read and write’,” he later wrote.

“It was then that I thought of (the concept of) ‘ street knowledge’ by saying that students must come to teach the thing that they know, the things they have already learned, and share it with those who unfortunately will never have the opportunity to go to university.

“So I went to the bars, talked with them and managed to win over a few who came to join us.

“What I was looking for was for ‘the person who knows how to learn, to teach those who do not know how to learn’.”

“Knowledge should not be a privilege for a few, it must be a gift to everyone and for everyone,” he explained.

“If the students had put their demonstration at the service of the poor and if they had gone to all the cities of the Parisian region to create libraries in the street, then I think that all the working people, working people who live poorly would have agreed with them… because they would have discovered that there is no gap between the university and the world of the poor and the miserable and that it is the same humanity fighting for the same cause, namely freedom and respect for each other. ”

SOURCE

Les événements de 68 vus par Joseph Wresinski (ATD Quart Monde)

Acts – The Days of Pentecost

[Acts of the Apostles 2]
{2:1} And when the days of Pentecost were completed, they were all together in the same place.
{2:2} And suddenly, there came a sound from heaven, like that of a wind approaching violently, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
{2:3} And there appeared to them separate tongues, as if of fire, which settled upon each one of them.
{2:4} And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And they began to speak in various languages, just as the Holy Spirit bestowed eloquence to them.
{2:5} Now there were Jews staying in Jerusalem, pious men from every nation that is under heaven.
{2:6} And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together and was confused in mind, because each one was listening to them speaking in his own language.
{2:7} Then all were astonished, and they wondered, saying: “Behold, are not all of these who are speaking Galileans?
{2:8} And how is it that we have each heard them in our own language, into which we were born?
{2:9} Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and those who inhabit Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
{2:10} Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya which are around Cyrene, and new arrivals of the Romans,
{2:11} likewise Jews and new converts, Cretans and Arabs: we have heard them speaking in our own languages the mighty deeds of God.”
{2:12} And they were all astonished, and they wondered, saying to one another: “But what does this mean?”

SOURCE

Acts of the Apostles 2;1-12 (Sacred Bible)

IMAGE

Maestà, Altarretabel des Sieneser Doms, Rückseite, Altarbekrönung mit Pfingstzyklus, Szene: Pfingsten (Wikipedia)

Review questions

How do you explain “the sound of wind approaching violently”?

What were the “tongues of fire”?

How could the apostles suddenly be understood in different languages?

Indeed, what do you think this all means?

The Priest and the Proletariat

Fr Robert Kothen was one of Cardijn’s earliest collaborators from 1919 when he was recruited by Jacques Meert.

Indeed, it is likely that Fr Kothen was also one of the first, if not the first priestly vocation to emerge from the new JOC movement.

After ordination, he assisted Cardijn in making contact with other countries, particularly English-speaking countries.

He wrote many books and pamphlets including The Priest and the Proletariat published in 1948, an insightful reflection on the role of priests with the working class.

Read it here:

Robert Kothen, The Priest and the Proletariat

Biography

Robert Kothen (Cardijn Priests)

WMCW focuses on land, lodging and labour

At its General Assembly in Avila, Spain from 15-21 July, the World Movement of Christian Workers (WMCW) focused on the theme “Land, Housing and Work for a decent life”.

In the final statement from the assembly, the movement committed itself to “offering our work and our struggles to all the workers of the world, at local, regional and global level.”

“This is how we will realize our evangelization mission. We intend to adapt the organization of the WMCW to better respond to this challenge,” the assembly concluded.

The final statement continued:

We are committed to :

1. Strengthen our militant lifestyle, our formation and our revision of life in accordance with our faith in Jesus Christ, with the Gospel and the social doctrine of the Church.

2. Promote the relationship between movements and the workers pastoral: we need to be a voice in the Church and a voice in the world of work, with particular attention to the most excluded and precarious people.

3. Analyze the regional situation of workers in order to create dynamics that denounce situations of vulnerability of rights and protect the dignity of the person. Promote equal opportunities for men and women in all areas, also within our organizations. Contribute to the training of young Christian workers.

4. Encourage alliances with other major actors at local and regional level who share our approach to decent work and the construction of the common good.

5. To promote solidarity and common action with popular movements, during World Meetings, in a dialogue with the Pope, and at specific meetings by zone or region.

6. Continue to invite all Christian Workers movements to take part to the International Day of Decent Work (7 October), together with the world trade union movement and the International Labour Organization.

7. Propose at local and regional level a confluence of Catholic-inspired organizations, and in doing so try to launch an international initiative of the Church in favour of decent work.

8. Demand decent work for all.

9. Urge states to guarantee a social wage or citizen’s income that will help avoid the rejection of millions of people if access to decent work is not guaranteed.

The General Assembly also elected a new International Bureau to lead its work for the next four years.

SOURCE

Final Statement of the International Seminar and General Assembly of WMCW – Ávila (Spain) 2017 (WMCW)

From Catholic Action to Liberation Theology in Latin America

Ana Maria Bidegain

In this article, Florida International University Professor Ana Maria Bidegain, a former leader of the JUC movement in Uruguay, traces the development of liberation theology in Latin America from its roots in the Young Christian Workers movement. We also present a more recent video in which she explains the relationship of Pope Francis and the Church in Latin America.

According to the summary, the paper “presents the historic process of the Latin American laity in this century, taking the case of Catholic Action, especially among the university youth.

“The author attempts to demonstrate the role played by these movements in the process of pastoral and theological renewal in recent years in Latin America.

The study consists of three parts:

1. The birth of Catholic Action as papal policy, signifying a break in the history of the Church through the participation of the laity in the apostolic hierarchy.

2. The implanting of Catholic Action in Latin America in the face of the development of social and political movements inspired by anarchism, socialism, and communism.

3. The transformation of Catholic Action and the birth of Liberation Theology.

READ THE ARTICLE HERE

Ana Maria Bidegain, From Catholic Action to Liberation Theology: The historical process of the laity in Latin America in the 20th century (Kellogg Institute, University of Notre Dame)

PHOTO

Ana Maria Bidegain / Florida International University / YouTube

Workers and the Church

Former IYCW president, Romeo Maione, delivered this talk in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985.

As the village breaks down, it rebuilds. As the seed dies so will it bear bruit. In death there is life. As the village dies, so does the city find life. The city is the village reborn. The village does not die in the village rather the village moves to the city to die and gives the city new life.

As the village dies in a city, it gives birth to a universal citizen who is neither Greek or Roman, Italian or French etc. He becomes a citizen of the city. The village in the city becomes the mechanism to change the person from a member of village into a citizen of the world. The essential part of this process happens in the work place.

While the workers may live in their separate villages in the city, they all work together in the workplace of the city. It is in the factory that the villager is called for the first time to work side by side with workers coming from various languages, cultures and faiths. It is in the workplace that a new solidarity is built up far and away from the frontiers once that held them together.

The first step towards universal solidarity is the worker movement. This movement was not planned rather it came out of the urge of justice. This forced the workers to organize so as to protect their jobs and wages and conditions of work. This was the first step from barbarism where the strong loads it over the weak and impose their will on uneducated workers. The village community cannot protect them in the factory. So a new type of organization starts to develop along with the living community.

Although the Church in America encouraged the organization of unions for the good of workers, the basic organization of the Church was still the geographical parish, even today, the Church has still to discover the various new communities that have no geographical, racial, cultural or even religious boundaries. When once the village was the only organization, now a whole new set of organizations was starting to develop yet the sap of life according to the experience of the Church was to circulate in only the dying villages in the city.

It was in this new community that social justice was the real glue of a new community. It is interesting to see how the village culture played a role in this new community. My dad told me the story of how he joined a union. He was a member of a “minority tribe” in an Italian village. As there was an incredible pull to help your own, the minority was always in danger of being replaced by another worker.

The majority tribe knew how to grease the hand of the foreman who was in charge of hiring. So my father always felt the danger of being let go to make room for one of the majority tribe. So my father joined a union to protect him from the majority. It was fear that led him in joining the union.

This new type of organization did not drop out of heaven rather it was founded on the fears and secondly the hopes of workers to better working conditions. This new worker movement in time replaced the dying villages. The drive of these new communities were to become “the historic class of making history”.

The distance between the worker movement and the Church is the measure of the distance of the Church from the modern world. Industrial power can only be civilized and made human by social power. This thinking even with the social teachings is far away from the essential thinking and praying of the Church. We camouflage our betrayal by insisting that power is not our mission.

Love is our mission, we say but never even think that love may be the greatest power to humanize and civilize the beast that lies in every person and culture. Love is the only power that can ever hope to exorcise the power and the power that absolutely corrupts. Love is the power of god that must struggle with the power of Satan. The latter is close to victory when love becomes detached from justice.

It is the masses that make history contrary to much Church thinking that it is the elites who construct societies and culture. New cultures must be built on the foundation of the masses. Those who do not know the history of the masses, of the villager becoming a worker are forever doomed to build castles in the sky.

Culture grows from the roots of the masses. Its first growth is as barbaric as an infant who must learn how to walk before it can run. The worker movement is an irreplaceable part of the building up of a new culture out of the membership of various village cultures coming together in the industrial plants.

It was the communist intellectuals that preached the workers were the historic class but who used their power to build up a society dominated by intellectuals. And we all know the results of this effort of using the masses for them to gain power over the masses.

The Church thinks that it does not have to dirty her hands in the cave of history. We will wait till sometime in the future to meet the workers..TOO Late|.

Romeo Maione
Nairobi
March 23.1982

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?