11. Completing the canon

Freedom, mission, priestly ministry: Three priorities

While the Cardijn influence was particularly evident in Apostolicam Actuositatem, Gaudium et Spes, Lumen Gentium and even Inter Mirifica, it was by no means restricted to these documents. Since detailed analyses of the other twelve Vatican II documents would take us beyond the scope of this study, we will confine ourselves to identifying some of the most significant aspects.

We begin with an examination of three issues for which Cardijn displayed a particular concern, namely religious freedom, the mission of the Church and the role and ministry of priests. This is followed by a brief overview of the Jocist impact on the remaining Council documents.

A. Reconciling freedom and faith: Dignitatis Humanae

Given Cardijn’s lifelong commitment to Christian engagement founded on freedom, the plan for a conciliar declaration on religious inevitably attracted his attention. As early as Note 3 for the PCLA on 15 December 1960, he advocated for the development of ‘Christian doctrine and Christian social organisation that guarantee(d) the freedom of the weakest person.’ He also appealed for a conciliar declaration addressed to Christians and non-Christians calling for collaboration in ‘a common effort of all people to exclude obstacles to human freedom and develop genuine progress.’1

Similarly, in Notes 13 and 14, he insisted on ‘private freedom in the social and charitable order’ as a counterpart to ‘loyal and objective collaboration by Christians in the socialisation of that order.’2 Most of all, though, he insisted on the link between freedom and education, as in Note 16, where he characterised the formation of young people as ‘an apprenticeship in the life of freedom.’3

As peritus, however, Cardijn had no involvement with the successive drafts of the Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatus Humanae. This role fell instead particularly to his friend and ally, Pietro Pavan, and the American Jesuit, John Courtney Murray, who as a member of the Pax Romana network was himself no stranger to Cardijn.

The Jocist bishops played a significant role in the development of the declaration, beginning with the role of De Smedt, who was rapporteur. Others also made important contributions in conciliar debate. At the Third Session, for example, Garrone contrasted the Church’s nineteenth century fears of ‘doctrinaire liberalism,’ which had led to ‘regrettable incidents in the past,’ with the Church’s role ‘stress[ing] the rights of man in his daily life.’4 Strikingly, he also called for ‘pardon for the errors of the Church in the matter.’5

Echoing Lamennais, the South African Hurley repudiated the notion that the state had a ‘right to intervene in religious matters.’6 Speaking on behalf of many African and Madagascan bishops, Cameroonian Jocist archbishop, Jean Zoa, backed the schema on the basis of ‘the inalienable rights of the human person.’7 From Canada, Léger also signalled his ‘total adhesion’ to the draft declaration,8 while Silva Henriquez in the name of fifty Latin American bishops emphasised the importance of the schema, even in a largely Catholic continent.9

Calling on Cardijn

Even so, the schema’s fate remained in doubt until the Fourth Session. Swayed by the conservatives’ arguments, Suenens baulked (again), favouring a short declaration ‘that provided no arguments,’ De Smedt lamented.10 Here, Prignon credited De Smedt for convincing the Belgian bishops not to accept this outcome.11

Yet, even some of the French bishops, such as Elchinger remained critical. De Smedt was so concerned that he wrote to the pope warning of possible sabotage attempts.12

Congar held similar fears. ‘We can expect criticisms, perhaps quite ferocious criticisms,’ he wrote to Cardijn on 7 July 1965. ‘I said to myself that you will be greatly appreciated if you explain the positive things that will emerge from the Declaration.’13 Three weeks later, during their weekend in Switzerland, they drafted a conciliar intervention for Cardijn, for which he also sought advice from Dondeyne and De Smedt.

Education for freedom

A month later, on 20 September, Cardijn delivered this, his first speech to the Council.

‘The schema [on religious liberty] pleases me greatly,’ Cardijn began, praising its recognition of ‘the right of the person and of communities to religious freedom.’

Instead of focusing narrowly on ‘juridical freedom,’ however, the schema needed to present religious freedom as ‘a necessary means for education in liberty in its fullest sense, which leads to interior liberty, or liberty of the soul,’ Cardijn continued, again channelling Lamennais. In this way, he argued, ‘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,’ Cardijn added, presenting the Jocist method as a tool for promoting religious freedom, as Ollé-Laprune had foreshadowed.

If the Church unambiguously committed itself to religious freedom, people everywhere would ‘recognise that the Church wishes to participate in building a more human and more united world,’ he continued. This too was Ollé-Laprune’s dream of ‘ending the division of spirits’ and ‘building intellectual peace.’14 But if the Fathers rejected this, ‘great hopes’ would disappear particularly among young people, Cardijn warned.

The only solution was to enable young people ‘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,’ Cardijn proclaimed, linking the Jocist method to the Sillon’s objective of educating conscious and responsible democratic citizens and Christians. If his ‘sixty years of apostolate [had] not been in vain,’ it was precisely because of this vision and method.

It was a genuine tour de force, marred only by his abominable Latin and over-long delivery. Nevertheless, those who understood it, such as the Belgian Dominican and future cardinal, Jerome Hamer, greatly appreciated its contribution to ‘opening up the atmosphere during the final weeks of work.’15

For those on a different wavelength, such as Suenens’ protégé and Belgian College rector, Msgr Albert Prignon, Cardijn’s text was ‘not doctrinal enough.’16 Although the first part was good, Prignon noted, the second part was weaker because Cardijn ‘lost himself in aspects of the ‘see-judge-act,’ his great, favourite [theme], which had nothing to do with the debate.’17 It was a comment that perfectly encapsulated Prignon’s and perhaps Suenens’ failure to grasp Cardijn’s point and his method.

Conscience/consciousness and responsibility

Nevertheless, by the time the Council adopted Dignitatis Humanae, the Cardijn vision had largely prevailed, as the opening lines of the final Declaration illustrate:

A sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man, and the demand is increasingly made that men should act on their own judgement, enjoying and making use of a responsible freedom, not driven by coercion but motivated by a sense of duty.18

As if to emphasise the point, §15, the final paragraph repeated the theme, effectively framing the document with the Sillon definition of democracy, a choice that could hardly be accidental. ‘There is a growing consciousness of the personal responsibility that every man has,’ the declaration concluded. Consequently, to establish ‘peace and harmony’ within the whole of mankind, a ‘constitutional guarantee’ and ‘respect’ were necessary ‘for the high duty and right of man freely to lead his religious life in society.’

Completing the reversal of Pius X’s 1910 condemnation initiated by Pius XII, the Council now endorsed the Sillon approach of balancing freedom of conscience with an equal emphasis on responsibility. In a compelling illustration of the centrality of this vision both within the Declaration and the Council documents collectively, Karol Wojtyla later structured his 1972 book on the implementation of Vatican II, Sources of Renewal, in large part around the concepts of consciousness, participation and responsibility.19

The Cardijn dialectic

Secondly, echoing Gaudium et Spes, the Declaration sought to present its argument in the form of a see-judge-act, beginning in §1 with the experience, ‘demands’ and ‘desires’ of people of the present time.20 As in other documents, this was added late in the drafting process and somewhat artificially, although the intent is clear.

Only then did the Declaration move to set out its own ‘truth of faith’ in §2-12. Here, §2 began with the doctrinal affirmation that ‘the human person has a right to religious freedom,’ based as Pavan had suggested on the inherent dignity of the person. On this issue, Suenens and Lercaro both wavered again leaving Ancel to articulate the decisive response to the conservative objections that error had no rights or that religious freedom amounted to ‘indifferentism’ to the truth, the old accusation against Lamennais.

In a crucial 22 September intervention recognising the inadequacy of human dignity as the sole basis of religious freedom, Ancel suggested that ‘the ontological foundation of religious liberty’ was rather located in the corresponding duty or obligation of each human person ‘to seek the truth,’ embodied in §1 of the final Declaration.21

Once again, this echoed the Platonic exhortation of Ollé-Laprune and Gratry that ‘Il faut aller au vrai avec toute son âme,’ meaning ‘one must seek the truth with one’s whole soul,’ that the Sillon had once made its own.

Prudential judgment

While §1 highlighted the growing demand by people to ‘act on their own judgement, enjoying and making use of a responsible freedom,’ §3 set out the prudential basis for doing so:

Wherefore every man has the duty, and therefore the right, to seek the truth in matters religious in order that he may with prudence form for himself right and true judgements of conscience, with the use of all suitable means.22

Finally, § 12-15 constituted the ‘act’ section, beginning by condemning ‘coercion in the faith’ as a way of acting (§12) and calling for freedom for the Church and for people to live in accord with their consciences (§13), to be able to ‘teach all nations’ and defend the truth (§14), and approving civil recognition of religious freedom, while condemning its denial (§15).

Moreover, De Smedt himself had insisted on the see-judge-act as the best means of forming people, albeit in his 1964 speech on the lay apostolate schema.23 Like Cardijn and Ollé-Laprune, he advocated its utility in ecumenical and multi-faith contexts as a means of developing cooperation among Catholics, Christians and all people of good will. Garrone, too, in his own 1964 intervention on religious liberty, had presented his argument in see-judge-act form.24

Yet again the Council had opted for the Jocist approach despite the critiques of Prignon and Suenens.25

B. Mission and evangelisation: Ad Gentes

The bankruptcy of evangelisation

This pattern of Jocist influence recurred with the Decree on Missionary Activity, Ad Gentes, another of the 1965 batch of documents. Again, Cardijn made a particular effort to influence the drafting, submitting his Note 27, while still a peritus in the Lay Apostolate Commission.

The notion of the mission or vocation of each person in transforming the world beginning with their own life and milieu had always been central to the theology and philosophy of the JOC. Indeed, Cardijn had made his own Pius XI’s exhortation to Jocist leaders to become ‘missionaries of the interior.’

Moreover, he had long been concerned about the state of the Church’s traditional approach in mission countries, as he wrote in uncharacteristically harsh terms following a 1948 trip to Africa. Here, Cardijn condemned the ‘bankruptcy of evangelisation,’ which had linked the Church and Christianity to ‘occupying forces, to the colonist and to the European’ and their ‘scandalous profits’ alongside ‘the shameful misery of the indigenous masses.26

This experience had shocked Cardijn, who henceforth sought to distance the movement from this and to present the JOC methods as an alternative.

Towards a new concept of mission

Summarising his reflections on the mission schema, Cardijn contrasted the JOC’s holistic conception of mission with others based either on exclusively religious or material cooperation:

The apostolate of lay people in developing countries cannot be limited to socio-economic cooperation; it presents first of all as directly religious, in collaboration with the Bishops and missionaries to help form native apostles for the whole of life: personal, family, professional, moral, religious, social, cultural and recreational life.27

He was also concerned to adapt methods to local environments, emphasising that ‘lay apostles’ should as far as possible ‘live… the life of people in the country.’ They should ‘reflect together’ with the local people discussing ‘the problems of their life’ in order ‘to understand them and resolve them’ in collaboration ‘with their brothers of all races and all continents.’28

It is probable that he circulated this document to at least several Jocist bishops involved in the conciliar Commission for Missions. These included Indian Archbishop Eugene D’Souza, French former JAC chaplain, Guy Riobé, Jean Zoa, Archbishop Bernard Yago from the Ivory Coast, another promoter of Specialised Catholic Action, the Canadian Superior-General of the OMIs, Fr Leo Deschâtelets, and perhaps others.

Paul VI and the Jocist bishops

Cardijn was surely also familiar with the 1964 controversies over the draft decree, which, as part of the Coordinating Commission’s effort to shorten the Council, had been reduced to the ‘dry bones’ of thirteen bland propositions.29

During this period, Cardijn remained in close contact with Paul VI, then preparing his apostolic trip to India where he personally opened the Joseph Cardijn Technical College in Mumbai in Cardijn’s presence. According to Fiévez, it was during this trip that Paul VI resolved to make him a cardinal in a further embrace of his views.30

Thus, when on 6 November, Paul VI broke tradition to personally preside over the opening of the conciliar debate on the mission schema,31 it was particularly to insist that ‘the whole Church’ was missionary and that ‘even the individual faithful’ should ‘become missionaries in spirit and in deeds.’32 While he diplomatically praised the existing reduced schema, Paul VI emphasised ‘the illustrious task of preparing new roads, of devising new means, of stimulating new energies for a more efficacious and wider diffusion of the Gospel.’

Among the Jocist bishops, Riobé, who had prepared an alternative schema, called for a document that would make Vatican II the ‘great missionary council.’33 Similarly, Frings insisted on ‘a complete and practical schema for the Fourth Session.’34 Bernardin Gantin of Dahomey (Benin) emphasised that the Church is ‘at home in every culture,’ and that the concept of mission needed ‘to vanquish the preconceptions of domination under the cover of evangelisation.’35

As a result, Cardinal Agagianian, the prefect of the Congregation for Propagation of the Faith, agreed to send the schema for reworking, a task confided to Congar assisted by Ratzinger and Joseph Neuner.36 Here too, the Jocist bishops played a prominent role calling for further improvement at the Fourth Session. D’Souza spoke of the need for ‘implantation’ rather than ‘transplantation’37 while McGrath criticised the lack of reference to the role of lay people.38

As Peter Hunermann has noted, there was no special chapter dealing with the ‘present situation,’ as there had been in Gaudium et Spes. Indeed, many Council Fathers ‘referred to this in their remarks,’ a matter rectified in §1 of the final decree as it had been in Dignitatis Humanae.39

Meanwhile, Suenens insisted on the need for lay missionaries as ‘heralds of the Gospel’ on the basis of their baptism, accenting their role as to ‘teach religion in various ways, cooperate in the parochial apostolate etc.’ Once again, this contrasted starkly with the integral, life-centred, transformative concept of mission promoted by Cardijn and the Jocist bishops.

Mission in life and the world

Ultimately, the final, much improved decree incorporated much of the Jocist vision. Drawing on Lumen Gentium §31, Ad Gentes insisted in §21 that ‘the main duty’ of lay people in the missionary field was to bear witness ‘by their life and works in the home, in their social milieu, and in their own professional circle;’ in effect, as missionaries of the interior.

Indeed, Cardijn had insisted on precisely this point in Note 27, emphasising that ‘the apostolate of lay people in developing countries cannot be limited to socio-economic cooperation’ and ‘needed to help form native apostles for the whole of life: personal, family, professional, moral, religious, social, cultural and recreational life.’40

Similarly, §21 insisted on the need to ‘train the laity to become conscious of the responsibility which they as members of Christ have for all men’ and to ‘introduce them to practical methods’ in line with Apostolicam Actuositatem in another clear reference to the see-judge-act method.

And §35 expanded on this theme, linking missionary work and evangelisation with ‘deep interior renewal’ awakening people to ‘a vivid awareness of their own responsibility [Latin: responsabilitatis conscientiam] for spreading the Gospel, they may do their share in missionary work among the nations.’

Thus did the Jocist bishops introduce their vision and methodology into Ad Gentes, establishing the foundations upon which the Latin American bishops at Medellin in 1968 would base their concept of ‘new evangelisation.’41

C. Transforming the ministerial priesthood

Presbyterorum Ordinis: The life and ministry of priests

As Cardijn’s many notes and writings illustrated, he regarded the ministerial priesthood as essential to the Church’s mission and particularly to the lay apostolate. As cardinal, he therefore again grasped the opportunity prior to the Fourth Session to prepare a written intervention on ‘The life and ministry of the priest’ (Note 30).42

‘Experience and history shows that the whole body of the Church will either succeed by virtue of its good priests or fail as a result of its bad priests,’ Cardijn began. ‘All laypeople, and not only the adults, must be properly and seriously formed and trained,’ he insisted.

‘How to achieve this? Only through the priests upon whom, and for the same reason, the success or failure of the Reign of God on Earth depends! Do not be deceived, brothers. The renewal or ‘aggiornamento’ of the Church that Pope John of happy memory has called us to implement in practice lies in the hands of the priests of the whole world!’ he argued.

Three things were therefore necessary:

1° Good training and formation for priests for which they needed to experience ‘a human way of life’ rather than ‘abstraction and a scholastic teaching system;’

2° Dialogue as espoused by Paul VI in his encyclical Ecclesiam Suam. The starting point for such a dialogue was ‘listening to people and striving to understand, to love them and accept them as they are.’;

3° Extending the range of their flocks, or in other words, going beyond the limits of their parishes in order for the Kingdom of God to ‘be discovered and grow beyond the range of their flocks.’43

Cardijn’s biblical phrases

And in handwritten notes on his own copy of the speech, Cardijn added several of his favourite biblical and patristic phrases encapsulating the approach required:

Nihil sine presbytero: ‘Nothing without the priest’ [Council of Arles, 309 AD], understood in the way that D’Souza had explained;

Vae soli: ‘Woe to he who is alone’ [Ecclesiastes 4:10], warning priests of the need to work with others;

Cognosco oves meas et cognoscunt me meae!: ‘I know my sheep and my sheep know me [John 10: 14],’ calling on pastors to leave their presbyteries to meet their people;

Alias oves habeo, illas oportet me adducere: I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. [John 10:16]

These were the foundations of his own priesthood that he sought to convey to the Fathers.

Drafting the Decree

Moreover, Cardijn found a ready ear in the Commission for Discipline of the Clergy and the Christian People, which was responsible for the drafting of the ‘Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests,’ Presbyterorum Ordinis. This commission too was well stocked with Jocist bishops, including Belgian Guillaume Van Zuylen, French bishops François Marty and Henri Mazerat, Brazilian Agnelo Rossi as well at the Sri Lankan Oblate Thomas Cooray and Bernardin Gantin from Dahomey (Benin).

Their eventual influence was particularly visible in §9 of the final decree, which emphasised that priests were ‘brothers among brothers with all those who have been reborn at the baptismal font.’ Priests therefore needed to ‘work together with the lay faithful,’ and ‘acknowledge the dignity of the laity and the part proper to them in the mission of the Church.’ This clearly echoed Cardijn’s Note 30 remark that ‘priests must be present among the lay faithful in order to encourage them and form them for their own irreplaceable apostolate.’

In a particularly Jocist phrase, §9 also exhorted priests to ‘willingly listen to the laity… recognise their experience and competence in the different areas of human activity, so that together with them they will be able to recognise the signs of the times.’

Paragraph 10 was also highly significant. Drawing on Pacelli’s Sillon-inspired call for trans-territorial or ‘personal’ church structures, and extending Cardinal Suhard’s Mission de France model, this paragraph proposed the establishment of ‘international seminaries, special personal dioceses or prelatures (vicariates), and so forth,’ which would enable priests to be ‘trained and incardinated for the good of the whole Church.’

Montini, who was heavily involved in the development of the Mission de France in his work at the Secretariat of State, had also supported this proposal before his election as pope.[998] In making Cardijn both an archbishop and cardinal, was Paul VI also foreshadowing the creation of a personal prelature for the JOC?

Intriguingly, the pope had indeed told Cardijn that ‘it was not because you represent an historical see or a national episcopate, it was for the YCW that I have made you Cardinal!’44

Optatam Totius: Formation for seminarians and priests

Given Cardijn’s view of the importance of the role of priests in promoting and sustaining lay people in their own mission to transform their lives, their milieux and the world, it followed that the need for appropriate priestly formation was at least as important.

Indeed, this implied the need for a completely new kind of formation, Cardijn argued. ‘More often than not seminarians learn the Catholic system… but without experiencing a human way of life,’ Cardijn warned. ‘Yet they need to begin to accept and love people, people just as they are, in order that they too can discover, grow and build!’45

Traditional seminary formation was ‘based too much on abstraction and a scholastic teaching system,’ Cardijn complained. Instead, it was essential for priests to be ‘practically taught a human way of life and learn to deal with people.’46 Instead, seminarians needed to learn ‘to reach [people] and to form them for this life, in the milieux of life, in their proper mission.’ Moreover, the parish alone was not enough. ‘Inter-parish teams’ were needed as well as cooperation with ‘the chaplains of movements.’

Once again, the eventual Decree on Priestly Formation, Optatam Totius did incorporate much of this vision, particularly in §19, which called for priests to be trained in ‘the art of directing souls’ to enable them to develop ‘a fully conscious and apostolic Christian life’ so as to fulfil ‘the duties of their state of life,’ and to learn ‘the art of dialogue with people.’ Again, Jocist bishops played major roles in achieving this, with Hurley in the Commission and Larrain intervening strongly in the conciliar debate.47

Christus Dominus: The Pastoral Office of Bishops

Although there were fewer Jocist-oriented bishops in the conciliar Commission for Bishops and Government of Dioceses than in others, the efforts of the French bishops Guerry and Veuillot as well as the South African Owen McCann ensured their influence was felt.

Cardijn also had again offered his reflections on the draft Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops, Christus Dominus, appealing in Note 27 for ‘a new pastoral (approach), both in cities and in country areas’ appropriate to ‘the new conditions of life of parishioners.’ Paragraph 16 of the decree explicitly addressed these concerns, calling for bishops ‘to employ suitable methods, especially social research,’ and to ‘manifest their concern for everyone, no matter what their age, condition, or nationality, be they natives, strangers, or foreigners.’

Moreover, bishops should ‘encourage institutes and hold special meetings’ to enable priests to renew themselves in various fields, including ‘especially Sacred Scripture and theology, the more important social questions, and the new methods of pastoral activity.’

Not surprisingly, particularly given the involvement of Guerry and Veuillot, §18 also emphasised encouraging the faithful ‘to participate in and give aid to the various works of the apostolate of the laity, especially Catholic Action.’ Remembering Guerry’s emphasis on the prudential origins of the see-judge-act,48 the suggestion in §38 that bishops’ conferences share and exchange ‘the insights of prudence and experience’ to promote the emergence of ‘a holy union of energies in the service of the common good of the churches’ was clearly a reference to the Cardijn method.

Indeed, this was precisely how the Latin American bishops (CELAM), the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC)49 – and eventually Synods50 – later implemented this paragraph.

D. Participative liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, was yet another document that addressed issues of concern to Cardijn and the SCA movements. For decades, the JOC had fought for and pioneered changes in the liturgy, including the dialogue and the vernacular mass.

Cardijn expressed this often in his Eucharistic theology, which he linked to his theology of work. ‘Your task is to make your day a continuation of the Mass, in union with that which is offered by the Pope, the Bishops, and all priests, and which you are going to sanction by the whole of your life,’ he wrote in 1933.51 ‘Without work there is no Host, not a single drop of wine to consecrate, no altar stone, no vestments, no Church. Without work there is no religion,’ as he often repeated.52

Until the very eve of the Council, the JOCI continued to lobby for shortened fasting times to enable young workers to begin their day with Mass and communion. As Benedictine liturgical pioneer and peritus, Bernard Botte, recognised, this influence made an impact, despite a lack of Jocist representation in the conciliar Liturgical Commission.

‘Those rallies of young workers, responding to the priest, singing the ordinary of the mass, participating in the offertory and in communion, helped the liturgical movement to progress far more than many [learned] articles,’ Botte noted. Indeed, Cardijn had worked with the Mont César Benedictines to prepare many movement liturgies.

E. Reading the Word of God: Dei Verbum

The JOC, like the Sillon before it, had also played a pioneering role in promoting commentary on the Gospel as part of their meeting practice. Moreover, many Jocist chaplains displayed great interest in modern biblical studies. A number had even published popular commentaries.

At the Council, the Jocist bishops also sought to ensure even greater access to the treasures of biblical literature. To achieve this, Liénart to propose ‘a complete revision’ of the preparatory schema on revelation. Appointed rapporteur, he continued to play a key role until the adoption of the constitution in November 1965.53

Significantly, the Doctrinal Commission with its large Jocist representation was responsible overall for this schema. Moreover, its seven-member sub-commission on revelation established in 1964 included Charue as chair, Heuschen, Pelletier and Van Dodewaard, all of whom had direct Jocist experience,54 as well as the English Bishop Christopher Butler, another Benedictine friend of the JOC.55 Additionally, the nineteen periti included Cerfaux, Congar and Philips.

The Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, reflected this in §22, which emphasised that ‘easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful’ in vernacular languages in order that ‘the word of God’ would be ‘accessible at all times.’

F. Christian Education: Gravissimum Educationis

The commission responsible for Optatatam Totius was also responsible for the Decree on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis. The Jocist influence here re-emerged in the introduction which, following the Gaudium et Spes model, opened with a brief reference to ‘the circumstances of our time’ that ‘made it easier and at once more urgent to educate young people and to continue the education of adults.’

People were ‘more aware of their own dignity (conscio) and position (officii)’ and wanted ‘to take an active part in social and especially in economic and political life.56 The French translation made more explicit the reference to the conscience/responsibility binomial while §1 declared that young people needed to ‘gradually acquire a mature sense of responsibility in striving endlessly to form their own lives properly.’

The next paragraph continued in this line, insisting on the ‘right’ of young people ‘to be motivated to appraise moral values with a right conscience, to embrace them with a personal adherence, together with a deeper knowledge and love of God.’

Again, this echoed the necessity of ‘personal adherence’ that Lamennais foreshadowed and Cardijn advocated. Moreover, §2 emphasised the ‘most serious obligation’ on the part of pastors ‘to see to it that all the faithful, but especially the youth… enjoy this Christian education,’ while Footnote 10 of the Declaration linked this to §12 of Apostolicam Actuositatem, the paragraph on youth largely inspired by Cardijn.

G. Renewal of Religious Life: Perfectae Caritatis

Similarly, §2 of the Decree on Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life, Perfectae Caritatis, specifically adopted the see-judge-act as a means for ‘the adaptation and renewal of religious life’ according to ‘the changed conditions of the times.’ Institutes therefore needed to promote ‘an adequate knowledge of the social conditions of the times… judging current events wisely in the light of faith’ in order ‘to assist men more effectively.’57

This was likely due, in part at least, to the influence of Jocist Council Fathers, including Gerard Huyghe, another Liénart protégé from Lille, and perhaps the Jesuit Superior-General, Belgian Jean-Baptiste Janssens.

H. The exceptions

Interfaith and inter-religious relations: Unitatis Redintegratio and Nostra Aetate

Perhaps surprisingly, given the involvement of De Smedt, the Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, contained no reference to the see-judge-act. This document, however, was adopted in 1964, before the Cardijn method had fully impacted on the Council.

In the paper on dialogue he prepared for Paul VI in 1964, Cardijn emphasised that it was above all lay people who experienced interfaith relations in the circumstances of their daily lives at work and in their communities. However, this conception did not make it into the final decree on ecumenism, which retained a very doctrinal and Church-centred perspective.

On the other hand, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, another 1965 document, does seem to have incorporated more of a Jocist-oriented approach, beginning in §1 with a series of existential questions ‘about the unsolved riddles of the human condition’ that underline the need for inter-religious understanding and dialogue.

‘What is man?’ the document asked. ‘What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is moral good, what is sin? Whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? Which is the road to true happiness?’ it continued, listing the kind of questions that Cardijn himself had raised in several conciliar notes.58

Eastern Rite Churches: Orientalium Ecclesiarum

Finally, it is difficult to detect any Jocist influence in the Decree on the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite, Orientalium Ecclesiarum, which like Unititatis Redintegratio was adopted in 1964.

This was so even though several prominent Eastern Church bishops were certainly sympathetic to the Jocist movement, Specialised Catholic Action and the promotion of the lay apostolate. These included Patriarch Maximos IV and Bishop George Hakim,59 both of whom were heavily involved in the Church of the Poor group, while drafts of Orientalium Ecclesiarum did indeed speak of lay apostolate.

However, no doubt because of the content of other conciliar documents, the final decree did not pursue these issues.

From liberty to liturgy

As this overview illustrates, the Jocist influence on the documents of Vatican II extended to nearly every field, reflecting the integral vision of the Church and its mission in the world that the bishops and periti formed in the JOC and SCA movements brought to the Council.


1Joseph Cardijn, “Note 3, Réfléxions et suggestions,” 15/12/1960, AC1576.

2Joseph Cardijn, “Note 13, Remarques particulières,” 1962, AC1577.

3Joseph Cardijn, “Note 16, De apostolatu laicorum in communitate ecclesia,” 1962, AC1577.

4Daybook, Session 3: 56: https://vaticaniiat50.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/religious-liberty-debate-closes-after-three-days/

5Fesquet, Le journal, 488.

6Ibid., 491.

7Pierre Haubtmann, Le point sur le concile, Deuxième article, La déclaration sur la liberté religieuse, 1964: Archives Haubtmann, Ha5, 56.

8Fesquet, Le journal, 467.

9Ibid., 472.

10Gilles Routhier, “Finishing the Work Begun: The Trying Experience of the Fourth Period,” in Alberigo-Komonchak, V, 80.


12 Tagle, “The ‘Black Week’” in Alberigo-Komonchak, IV, 402.

13Congar to Cardijn, 11/07/1965, AC1579

14Léon Ollé-Laprune, Les sources de la paix intellectuelle, (Paris: Bélin, 1892), v-vi.

15Jérôme Hamer, Histoire du texte de la déclaration, in La liberté religieuse, Déclaration “Dignitatis humanae personae,” ed. Jérôme Hamer and Yves Congar, Unam Sanctam 60. (Paris: Cerf, 1967), 94.

16Albert Prignon, ed. L. Declerck and A. Haquin, Mgr Albert Prignon, Recteur du Pontificio Collegio Belga, Journal conciliaire de la 4ème session, Collection Cahiers de la Revue Théologique de Louvain 35, Faculté de Théologie, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2003, 34-35.

17Prignon, Journal, 52-53.

18Vatican II, Dignitatis Humanae, (Declaration on Religious Freedom), §1: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651207_dignitatis-humanae_en.html

19Karol Wojtyla, Sources of renewal, The implementation of the Second Vatican Council (New York: Harper and Row, 1979). Thus, Part II is entitled “The formation of consciousness,” and in Part III, “The formation of attitudes”, Chapter II is “Analysis of the attitude of participation” and Chapter III is “The attitude of human identity and Christian responsibility”.

20Dignitatis Humanae, §1.

21Alfred Ancel, “Le fondement ontologique de la liberté religieuse: l’obligation de chercher la vérité,” in Liberté religieuse et règne du Christ, ed. Bernard de Margerie (Paris: Cerf, 1988), 101-102.

22Dignitatis Humanae § 3.

23Sauer, “The Laity,” in Alberigo-Komonchak, IV, 245.

24Giovanni Miccoli, “Two Sensitive Issues: Religious Freedom and the Jews,” in Alberigo-Komonchak, IV, 129-130.

25Dignitatis Humanae § 3.

26Joseph Cardijn, “Premières impressions d’une randonnée mondiale,” Notes de Pastorale Jociste, XIV, N° 4 (April – May 1948): https://www.josephcardijn.com/fr/item/1327

27Joseph Cardijn, “Note 27, Schema Propositionem De activate missionali ecclesiae,” 09/1964, AC1577.

28Cardijn, “Note 27.”

29Donal Lamont, “Ad Gentes: A Missionary Bishop Remembers,” in Vatican II: By Those Who Were There, ed. Alberic Stacpoole (London, Geoffrey Chapman, 1986), 276-281.

30Told to me while Fiévez was working on the archives of the JOCI and I was working with the JOCI from 1990-93.

31Daybook, Session 3, 229: https://vaticaniiat50.wordpress.com/2014/11/08/pope-makes-rare-council-appearance-urges-approval-of-draft-on-mission-work/

32Paul VI, Council address on mission work, in Daybook, Session 3, 232: https://vaticaniiat50.wordpress.com/2014/11/08/text-of-popes-council-address-on-mission-work/

33Tanner, “The Church in the World,” in Alberigo-Komonchak, IV, 340.

34Fesquet, Le journal, 689.

35Ibid., 690.

36Peter Hünermann, “The Final Weeks of the Council,” in Alberigo-Komonchak, V, 427.

37Ibid., V, 437.

38Ibid., V, 439.

39Hünermann, “The Final Weeks,” in Alberigo-Komonchak, V, 436.

40Cardijn, “Note 27.

41CELAM Conference 1968, “Final Document”: The section “La juventud” proposes “To encourage a new evangelisation and intensive catechesis that reaches the elites and the masses to promote a lucid and committed faith.” http://www.diocese-braga.pt/catequese/sim/biblioteca/publicacoes_online/91/medellin.pdf

42Joseph Cardijn, “Note 30, The Life and Ministry of the Priest,” 20/08/1965, AC1577: https://www.josephcardijn.com/en/item/94

43Cardijn, “Note 30.”

44Fiévez-Meert, Cardijn, 234.

45Cardijn, “Note 30.”


47Mauro Velati, “Completing the Conciliar Agenda,” in Alberigo-Komonchak, V, 193-194.

48Emile Guerry, “The Spirituality of Catholic Action,” Catholic Action Reprints No. 51 (January 1946): https://www.josephcardijn.com/en/item/1889

49FABC at Forty Years: Responding to the Challenges of Asia, FABC Papers N° 138 (2012): http://www.fabc.org/fabc%20papers/FABC%20Papers%20138%20final.pdf

50Antoine Tarabay OLM, “See, judge, act,” ACBC Media Blog: http://mediablog.catholic.org.au/see-judge-act/

51Joseph Cardijn, “Ite Missa est,” 1933: https://www.josephcardijn.com/en/item/23

52Catholic Herald, 06/05/1949.

53Grootaers, “The Drama Continues,” in Alberigo-Komonchak, II, 385.

54Miccoli, “Two Sensitive Issues,” in Alberigo-Komonchak, IV, 196.

55Christopher Butler, The Theology of Vatican II (Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, 1981), 14.

56Vatican II, Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education), Introduction: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_gravissimum-educationis_en.html (Accessed 28/12/2017).

57Vatican II, Perfectae Caritatis (Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life): http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19651028_perfectae-caritatis_en.html

58Vatican II, Nostra Aetate (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions): http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html

59George Hakim, “Intervention 24/10/1963, 55th General Congregation, De Ecclesia, Chap. 3,” in Council Digest, Council Fathers of the USA, Simonds Archives.