2. Lamennais, Le Sillon & La JOC

God, freedom and the poor


As historian John W. O’Malley has written, the changes heralded by Vatican II were prepared over a 160-year period from the French Revolution until the eve of the Council, which he characterised as ‘the long nineteenth century.’1 Drawing on a series of biographical notes compiled by Cardijn at the end of his life, particularly a note entitled ‘Mes lectures’ (My reading), we can divide this period into three roughly equal ‘generations,’ each of which can be named for the leading personality or movement that identified each period for Cardijn: Lamennais, Le Sillon and JOC.2

As this chapter will endeavour to show, each generation played a decisive role in the process of moving the Church away from the ‘integralist’ mindset that had previously prevailed towards the ‘adoption of a principle of deliberate reconciliation between the Church and certain changes’ that would eventually pave the way for Vatican II.3

A. The Lamennais School

Lamennais: God, freedom, the people and the poor

Cardijn first began to read Lamennais shortly after beginning his minor seminary studies at fifteen, a moment that corresponded with his rejection by his former schoolmates, who had metamorphosed into anti-clerical young workers alienated from what they perceived as a conservative Church allied with the rich.

Born in 1782 within earshot of the well-known Le Sillon beach at Saint Malo, Lamennais proclaimed the need to return to the Church of the Gospel based on freedom, priority for the people and a new alliance with the poor. This was the vision embodied in the ‘Dieu et liberté’ or ‘God and freedom’ slogan that Lamennais adopted for the newspaper, L’Avenir he founded in 1830 with Henri Lacordaire, Charles de Montalembert and others.

Disillusioned with France’s Restoration monarchy, shocked by the poverty and oppression of the emerging working class and inspired by people’s struggles in his mother’s ancestral Ireland and Adam Mickiewicz’s Poland, Lamennais in effect called for a revolution in the Church.

‘The Church is languishing and tending to extinction in Europe,’ Lamennais wrote in 1833, warning there were only two possible solutions. One was to rebuild ‘the ancient alliance with absolute powers, to come to their aid against the people and against liberty to obtain from them a level of tolerance, to weld altar and throne, relying on force,’ a solution he evidently rejected.

‘The second was to cut the ties that enslaved the Church to the state, to free it from the dependency that limits its action, to link up with the social movement that is preparing new destinies for the world, for freedom to unite it with order to redress its disparities, for science to reconcile it, through unhindered discussion, with eternal dogma, to the people so as to pour onto its immense miseries the inexhaustible flows of divine charity,’ Lamennais proposed.4

This new Gospel-inspired alliance to replace the outmoded Constantinian alliance was to be founded on liberty. ‘We first seek freedom of conscience or full, universal freedom of religion, without distinction and without privilege, and consequently, concerning ourselves, as Catholics, we seek the total separation of church and state,’ as the editors of L’Avenir wrote on 7 December 1830.5

This proved too much for conservative French Catholics and for Pope Gregory XVI, who in 1832 issued his encyclical Mirari Vos, which directly condemned many ideas championed by the Lamennais team, notably freedom of conscience and freedom of the press.6 Dismayed, the three men submitted. But the Roman experience had broken Lamennais’ faith in the papacy and indeed the Church. Another encyclical in 1834, Singulari Nos, further targeted Lamennais’ writings, consummating his rupture with the institutional Church.

Nevertheless, he continued to write not only on social and political themes but even produced a highly regarded new translation of the Gospel illustrating his radical commitment to its message. Others who had worked with or come under the influence of the Lamennais School, as they were known to Cardijn, perhaps better appreciated his personal flaws. Although they distanced themselves from him, they continued to promote many of his ideas within the framework of the Church.

Ozanam and the lay apostolate

One of these men, Frédéric Ozanam, foundational figure of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, first met Lamennais while still a nineteen-year-old law student. His father, Jacques-Antoine Ozanam, had subscribed to L’Avenir and young Frédéric shared similar views.

Like Henri Lacordaire, who relaunched the Dominican Order in France, Frédéric believed that if only Lamennais had been more patient, many of his ideas could have been ‘reconciled’ with Catholicism. Indeed, in 1847, he expressed the hope that the newly elected Pope Pius IX would play the role of ‘God’s envoy to conclude the great affair of the nineteenth century, namely the alliance of religion and freedom.’7

Even more significant was Ozanam’s early, pioneering commitment to ‘the apostolate of lay people in the world,’ an expression he used as early as 1835.8 Although he did not mention it, Ozanam who had studied ancient Greek, certainly understood the Greek root laikos of the French term for lay people, namely laïc. He also evidently knew that the Greek root for the word ‘democracy’ was another word for people: demos.

But where Lamennais spoke of the ‘People,’ Ozanam chose to identify more specifically with ‘lay people,’ as the exclusively lay structure of the Society of St Vincent de Paul illustrated. Later, the Society would characterise this role as ‘the laity participating in the priesthood of the priests.’9 This was a controversial notion, as was the term ‘lay apostolate’ itself, which implied that lay people shared in the apostolate of the hierarchy as successors of Jesus’ apostles. Although Ozanam denied it, the term ‘lay apostolate’ thus also hinted at the introduction of democracy within a monarchical church.

Even more importantly, Ozanam’s understanding of lay apostolate was not linked primarily to the notion of charitable works. On the contrary, he always regarded his roles as a family man and academic as the prime location of his lay apostolic commitment. Thus, although he taught at the Catholic Stanislas (University) College in Paris at the invitation of Alphonse Gratry, he preferred to teach at the secularised Sorbonne, where his courses sought to illustrate the Christian contribution to European civilisation.

The 1848 Revolution and L’Ere nouvelle

When the Revolution of February 1848 again ended the French monarchy, both Lacordaire and Ozanam welcomed the birth of the provisional Second Republic government led by Alphonse de Lamartine, yet another Lamennais ally and disciple.

‘I have devoted my life,’ Lacordaire stated, explaining his position, ‘to sealing that reconciliation between the new generation (i.e. the 1848 generation) and the antique generation that is called the Church.’10 Ozanam too viewed the Revolution as a unique opportunity for the Church to bridge the gap that had opened and ‘to evangelise the working class.’11

‘Better to rely on the people who are the true ally of the Church, as poor as she is, devoted, blessed as she is with all the blessings of the Saviour,’ Ozanam argued.12 The Church therefore needed to ‘move to the side of the barbarians, that is to say democracy,’ which would lead to ‘the deliverance of the Church by the secularisation of the state,’ he wrote.13 Ultimately, their (i.e. the revolutionaries’) slogan, liberty, equality, fraternity, ‘is the very Gospel,’ he concluded.

Thus, in April 1848, together with Fr Henry Maret and Lacordaire, Ozanam launched a daily newspaper, L’Ere Nouvelle (The New Era), which adopted much of the program announced by L’Avenir eighteen years earlier.

By the summer of that year, however, the Revolution had foundered in bloodshed as the Catholic middle and ruling classes rose in fear of its potential consequences. Montalembert, who had shifted to the conservative side, warned striking workers to ‘resign yourselves to poverty and you will rewarded and compensated eternally,’ adding that the Church counselled (not compelled) the rich to give alms.14

By the end of the year, a new French constitution had been adopted, ushering in the election of Louis Napoleon, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, as president. Three years later, still unsatisfied, he staged a coup d’état, installing the Second Empire, over which he reigned as Emperor Napoleon III until 1870.

The democratic hopes of Lamennais, Lacordaire and Ozanam were dashed. The working class was lost in what Pius XI would later characterise as the greatest tragedy of the nineteenth century.

Young but already ailing, Ozanam died on 8 September 1853. Less than six months later, on 27 February 1854, Lamennais followed him, choosing to be buried in a pauper’s grave, symbolically still unreconciled with the Church.

B. Le Sillon: Prototype of the Specialised Catholic Action movements

From Lamennais to Le Sillon

Forty years later, the seeds planted by Lamennais, Lacordaire and Ozanam finally germinated in the form of Marc Sangnier’s Le Sillon (The Furrow) movement, later described by Cardijn as ‘the greatest surge of faith and apostolate’ since the (French) Revolution.15

During the intervening period, the legacy of 1848 was nurtured by a series of remarkable personalities, particularly the philosophers Alphonse Gratry (1805-1872) and Léon Ollé-Laprune (1839-1898), both of whom knew Le Play and helped develop his ‘social observation’ method.

Alphonse Gratry

A brilliant student at the elite Ecole Polytechnique, Gratry suffered a crisis of faith before undergoing a conversion experience that he later described as a mystical vision of a world based on truth and justice.16 After further studies with the philosopher Louis Bautain at Strasbourg,17 he began teaching at a minor seminary before becoming director of Stanislas College in Paris in 1840.

Moved by the events of 1848, Gratry published his first book in the form of a Catéchisme Social. In 1852, he and another priest, Pierre Pététot, re-launched the Congregation of the Oratory in Paris in a bid to raise clergy intellectual standards. Beginning in the 1850s, he published a series of influential books on philosophy that led to his election to the Académie Française in 1868 just four years before his death in 1872.

Rejecting a narrowly scholastic approach to philosophy, Gratry made a motto of the Platonic phrase ‘il faut aller au vrai avec toute son âme’ (seek the truth with your whole soul), meaning that the search for the truth involves an effort of every human faculty. For this reason, l’abbé Pichot, who published a selection of Gratry’s writings in 1899, characterised his work as an ‘integral philosophy.’18 In this sense and contrary to a traditional, dualistic scholastic division of life into spiritual and temporal spheres, Gratry emphasised the continuity of terrestrial or temporal and heavenly or eternal life, as St Augustine had done.

‘Why insist on separating the double idea of my dual goal, the idea of my earthly goal and the idea of my heavenly goal, the idea of my temporal goal from my eternal goal?’ Gratry asked, anticipating Cardijn. Why not grasp the link between the two to ‘beautify’ one’s terrestrial goal with the holy perspective of heaven?19

Reading the signs of the times

Gratry’s most famous and widely distributed work, however, was Les Sources, a spiritual manual – later read by Cardijn – published in two volumes in 1862, bearing the innocuous subtitles Counsels for conduct of the spirit and First and last book of the science of duty.20

Combined into a single volume, Les Sources was reprinted in dozens of editions until World War II, contributing greatly to the intellectual climate of the time.

Part I comprised a wide-ranging guide to organising one’s life, the purpose of which was to discover what God desires from ‘the human spirit.’ Gratry’s teleological answer was that God orients man towards ‘a task’, namely ‘the salvation of the century in which he lives.’21 But how to determine this task?

The answer, Gratry argued, was to heed Christ’s challenge recorded in Luke 12: 56: ‘Why do you not understand the signs of the times?’ Those who desired to become ‘workers among men,’ Gratry suggested, needed to become ‘attentive to the signs of the times that are visible.’22 It was by reading these signs that they would be able to identify the path for renewing the world in line with God’s vision of truth and justice.

An inductive approach: Reality, reflection, resolution

Going further, in another contribution that would later resonate at Vatican II, Gratry insisted on the distinction between the syllogistic or deductive process of achieving knowledge or understanding, and the inductive (Aristotle’s term) or dialectical (Plato’s) process.23 With respect to the former, by definition, it was impossible to go beyond the initial postulates. Only the inductive or dialectical process allowed for new discoveries, Gratry held, because it necessarily implied ‘a principle of transcendence’ since it involved the creation of something new.24

As Ollé-Laprune later emphasised, Gratry also applied this method to the search for solutions to social problems. ‘He signals the hideous wounds (of society),’ Ollé-Laprune wrote, ‘he enters into the precise, living detail; he names things by their names…; he shows what they do, and, before these poignant realities in us, around us, he provokes reflections, examinations of conscience, resolutions; and this goes a long way, a very long way, it kindles and prepares many changes.25

In Gratry’s method, as interpreted by Ollé-Laprune, one therefore began with reality, before moving to reflection and finally to resolution, in a clear anticipation of Cardijn’s own see, judge, act and the inductive method of Vatican II. This ‘begins to be realised when everyone starts to reform themselves, then they have a profound social action, and achieve changes in the world,’ Ollé-Laprune insisted.26 Indeed, this was precisely how the Sillon movement and later the JOC would apply Gratry’s method.

Frédéric Le Play’s ‘Social Observation Method’

Among Gratry’s companions at the Ecole Polytechnique was Frédéric Le Play (1806-1882), whose ‘social observation model’ had far-reaching impact. Convinced that the study of ‘social facts’ was necessary to understand and improve social conditions, Le Play, who became a mining engineer, determined to make systematic enquiries concerning the situation of families and communities during all his field trips.27 Despite turning to the political right after the events of 1848, he maintained this social concern.28

In 1855, Le Play completed his path-breaking work Les Ouvriers Européens beginning with an exposé of his method and of his own conception of ‘social science.’ Essentially, this amounted to applying the scientific observation method to the field of social phenomena. In 1864, he published his second major work, La Réforme Sociale en France, a three-volume epic focusing on the actual reforms required. Here we find perhaps the clearest synthesis of Le Play’s method:

The facts thus gathered enabled me to work back by deduction to the fundamental principles of social life and to the applications that it is appropriate to make of them today. Moreover, I only accepted facts and principles as proven after having checked them by many observations and by the judgement of various local authorities.29

Facts, principles and applications: the parallels with Gratry’s reality-reflection-resolution approach and with Cardijn’s future see-judge-act-method are striking. For Le Play, however, these principles were derived empirically from observation of social practice rather than from principles of moral philosophy or theology. In fact, this empirical approach to the identification of principles quickly became one of several critiques levelled at Le Play.

Although the method deeply influenced social Catholicism as well as the JOC and Specialised Catholic Action movements, Le Play’s ‘paternalistic’ approach and his narrow family-oriented focus deterred many.30 What was needed was a practically oriented social philosophy, which would complete and complement his social science.31 This was precisely where Léon Ollé-Laprune, building on Gratry, would make his contribution.

Léon Ollé-Laprune: Philosophical father of the see-judge-act

Inspired by Gratry’s Les Sources and influenced by Ozanam, Léon Ollé-Laprune came to be regarded as the ‘greatest French Catholic layman’ since the founder of the Society of St Vincent de Paul and even as a ‘new Ozanam.’32 Like his role model, Ollé-Laprune chose for apostolic reasons to teach in secular state institutions, which brought him back to his alma mater, the Ecole Normale Supérieure. Perhaps the greatest of his many brilliant students was Maurice Blondel, later described by Yves Congar as the ‘philosopher of Vatican II,’ who also taught for a time at Stanislas College.33

Like Gratry but unusually for a Catholic philosopher of that time, Ollé-Laprune was not a Thomist. Understood as a closed system, even the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas had outlived its usefulness, Ollé-Laprune believed. What was needed was a completely ‘new philosophy,’ albeit inspired by Aquinas, in line with Gratry’s project.34 Moreover, given the advent of what we would today call a pluralist society, ‘intellectual unity’ had to be re-forged by fostering ‘the art of discussion,’ Ollé-Laprune proposed.35 Expressed another way, what was required was:

1° Respect for the facts.

2° Respect for self-evident principles.

3° Love of the truth.

4° Recognition of the excellence of morality, of moral honesty.36

Facts, principles, truth, morality: these established the basis of discussion or dialogue.

Virtue ethics as the basis of social life

Ollé-Laprune drew here on his 1881 study of Aristotle’s ethics, Essai sur la Morale d’Aristote. It was ‘in the midst of social life,’ Ollé-Laprune argued, ‘that the moral beauty of Aristotle’s virtuous man bursts forth.’37 This was particularly so in the political sphere where ‘the free citizen jealous of his rights… intends to participate in government as well as in obedience (Aristotle, Politics: III, II, 7).’38

But how to live this virtuous life of social and political participation? Ollé-Laprune summarised Aristotle’s approach:

Practical reason discerns that which is to be done in any circumstance; it takes account of times and places and persons; it appreciates the circumstances; it determines the conduct to take… Such is the nature, such is the role of the applied intelligence to discerning moral matters, as well as to enlightening and directing practical life. It is thought itself supporting action, phronesis.39

Moreover, prudential, practical reason implied and was based on freedom, he argued. ‘It indeed seems that free determination is a thing that depends on us,’ Ollé-Laprune wrote, citing the Nicomachean Ethics (III, II, 9),40 ‘this emerges from the analysis of the facts; it is natural to judge thus; there is a reasonable conclusion.’

Facts, judgement, conclusion: Ollé-Laprune’s first published formulation of the Aristotelian triptych summed up his solution to the problems both of building consensus in a pluralistic society and promoting a moral, participative, democratic republic.41

Le prix de la vie

In 1894, Ollé-Laprune developed these ideas in his masterpiece, Le Prix de la Vie (The Price/Prize of Life), which reached its fifty-second edition in 1944. Here, he sought to answer the question ‘what to think and make of life?’42 Where Gratry had perhaps emphasised the challenges facing the world, Ollé-Laprune focused on the human person – life – as the centre of his philosophical concern. And the life of this person, he continued, was ‘action.’43 This was Aristotle’s – and Gratry’s – teleological concept of man, who had a ‘task (oeuvre) to achieve.’

In turn, this required the development of ‘consciousness’ (conscience) and ‘reflection’ as man aimed ‘to determine the idea, to represent the form of life required.’44 This further implied that ‘I am responsible for my conduct.’45 For Ollé-Laprune, this ‘moral responsibility’ flowed from man’s ‘duty to be the best man possible’ and ‘to live in conformity with the ideal of human nature.’46

Moreover, this understanding had social and civic consequences. ‘History appears to be democratising,’ he wrote in the Preface to the Third Edition.47 Not in the sense of ‘levelling’ but in the sense of ‘a personal effort to raise up minds and hearts’ (‘esprits et âmes’) and what he called ‘a universal diffusion of intellectual and moral energy’ that the Sillon would later interpret as a means of developing its ‘âme commune’ (communal soul), or more broadly ‘communion.’

It followed that, whereas Aristotle viewed prudence (phronesis) as the fundamental virtue for political leaders, in an emerging democratic society everyone needed to develop this quality, Ollé-Laprune concluded:

Each person must apply themselves more than ever, better than ever to consulting courageously and faithfully the principles and the facts in order to make themselves more than ever, better than ever, capable of seeing clearly, judging and concluding, precisely because it is no longer the fashion to do so.48

Building on the heritage of Gratry, Le Play and the Lamennais tradition, Ollé-Laprune thus articulated a method for the construction of a virtue-based, democratic society.

Marc Sangnier

Born into a bourgeois family in 1873, Marc Sangnier began at Stanislas College as a primary school student continuing until he completed his undergraduate studies in mathematics aged twenty-one. There he absorbed the spirit of Gratry, Ozanam and Lacordaire, whose memory was actively fostered by the Marianist fathers and brothers, while his family was close to Ollé-Laprune.

However, the latter’s direct relationship with the future Sillon leaders likely began with his valedictory address to Stanislas students on 1 August 1893. Delivering a speech entitled La recherche des questions pressantes (Addressing urgent issues) that reads almost like a program for the movement, citing Gratry’s concern for justice, truth and religion, Ollé-Laprune challenged the students to address the issues of ‘social evil’ and ‘social peace.’49

Will you be able to avoid all clashes between various interests and ways of thinking, and place cushions and buffers everywhere?’ Ollé-Laprune asked. ‘You will look directly at the things that divide men and the men that these things divide. Peace will come through light and frankness,’ he advised. ‘In your judgement, you will maintain that clarity which comes from the courage of the spirit… Keen to welcome that which is incomplete, you will maintain that the true solution is found only in the complete truth. (NB: Italics added.)50

Soon after, Sangnier launched a series of weekly meetings in the college basement – hence the group’s early name, La Crypte – that would seek precisely to follow Ollé-Laprune’s exhortation to look at, judge and seek solutions to the issues of their time.

From the start, Crypt members had an outward focus, seeking to recruit new members, beginning with other Stanislas students. Soon, they also began to reach out to the working-class parish youth clubs (patronages) then spreading through the industrial suburbs of Paris. As the Stanislas students completed their studies, they began to promote new conferences or ‘study circles’ in other faculties and institutions. In 1896, Sangnier launched an ‘Initiative Committee’ with the objective of further promoting these developments.51

Meanwhile, the study circles began to undertake more systematic Leplaysian-style enquiries on issues of concern. Already the groups were adopting a form that would be easily recognisable to future leaders of the JOC.

Towards a lay-clerical partnership

The summer of 1897 marked a new turning point when Sangnier and several key leaders joined a week-long study session organised by Léon Harmel, the Catholic industrialist who had made his factory at Val-des-Bois near Reims a model of social justice. Two major objectives appear to have emerged from this session.

The first was to develop a model of ‘lay-clerical’ cooperation that would unite ‘the lay element, the ecclesiastical element and the union of the two, without confusion or division’ between the two elements.52 This was new because hitherto the Crypt study circles had emerged as lay initiatives, although at least some circles were assisted by ‘counsellors,’ who were not necessarily priests. Crucially, the role of priests was not to control but to advise, a challenge for many clerics accustomed to a directive role and also a point of tension that would result in serious misunderstandings.

The second objective was to launch a nationwide campaign to promote study circles along the model pioneered by the Crypt. The outcome was the spread of a wave of new study circles in Paris and across France.

Le Sillon: Magazine to movement

Among the earliest projects emerging from the Crypt was the launch in January 1894 by Paul Renaudin of a literary and social issues magazine, Le Sillon (The Furrow), the name of which appears to refer to Lamennais’ birthplace.53 From the beginning the journal adopted a line that attempted to reconcile Christianity with ‘our century.’ By 1896, it was affirming that ‘we have faith in the moral and social virtue of Christianity, in its infinite power of regeneration and progress for both societies and individuals.’54

In 1899, Sangnier became editor, introducing a new orientation that transformed it into ‘an action magazine focused primarily on the life of the study circles.’55 Henceforth, Le Sillon magazine became a primary organising tool for the building of a democratic republic with a moral foundation.

The same year, Sangnier characterised the method of the Sillon study circles in the following terms: ‘Every citizen must: 1° know the state of the country; when the situation is bad, he must 2° seek solutions; and lastly, having found the solutions, he must 3° act.’56

Sillon counsellor, the Dominican philosopher, AD Sertillanges later added his own contribution here, recasting Ollé-Laprune’s Aristotelian see-judge-decide formulation in terms of seeking counsel, applying judgement and moving to action, or in effect, seek-judge-act.57

Radiating circles of influence

Meanwhile, on 31 May 1896, Sangnier called for ‘a vast movement of reconciliation’ in favour of ‘social unity’ and ‘genuine democracy,’ outlining a strategy for achieving this. Citing Emile Zola, he proposed to work at three concentric levels, beginning with the ‘internal unity proper to each person,’ before moving to the development of an ‘âme commune’ among the people and groups they were in contact with, and finally reaching out to ‘the whole of humanity.’58

This was the theory of radiating circles of social influence developed by the sociologist Hippolyte Taine, of whom Zola was a disciple. According to Taine, this influence operated at three levels or ‘moments,’ i.e. the specific historical situation, ‘milieu,’ or environment, and ‘race,’ by which he meant national grouping.59

Henceforth, the emerging Sillon leaders systematically developed a three-level plan to achieve this based on study circles for student and young worker leaders, ‘popular institutes’ for reaching a broader group and publications targeting the masses. By 1902, Sillon-inspired study circles and initiatives were booming, leading to the holding of the first National Congress of Study Circles in February of that year. By 1903, these groups had begun to self-identify as perhaps the first lay ‘movement’ in the Church.

Consciousness, responsibility and democracy

Around this time, the Sillon leaders first articulated their definition of democracy as the form of ‘social organisation that tends to maximise the conscience/consciousness and the responsibility of everyone.’60 Moreover, the Sillon method now had a name: ‘the method of democratic education,’ explicitly adapted from Le Play’s social observation method, transforming it into a method of raising ‘consciousness’ and developing action on social issues.61

As the Sillon counsellor, Marianist Brother Louis Cousin explained, the originality of the movement’s method was its transformation of the Leplaysian method into a means of raising consciousness and developing democratic virtue. ‘Doesn’t virtue presuppose conscience/consciousness and responsibility?’ Cousin asked, citing Montesquieu.62 Indeed, this conception of democracy would become one of the Sillon’s most enduring contributions, finding its way into Catholic social teaching and several Vatican II documents.

The Sillon and the ACJF

Sillon study circle methods thus differed significantly from many earlier circles, including the workers’ circles launched by Albert de Mun later by the Association Catholique de la Jeunesse Française (ACJF), or French Catholic Youth Association, founded in 1886.

The ACJF summarised its own method in the triptych ‘Piété, étude, action’ – ‘Prayer, study, action,’ which began, not with facts or ‘the imperious demands of life,’ as Sangnier expressed it, but with the study of Church doctrine. Indeed, early ACJF chaplains, particularly Charles Maignen, rebuffed efforts to introduce the empirical Le Play method, which was perceived as compromising Catholic doctrine.63

Secondly, as Jeanne Caron explained, ACJF leaders regarded the existence of Christian society as a given, working to bring together existing Church organisations to enable them to deepen their faith and their formation. In contrast, the Crypt/Sillon, looked outwards to what they perceived as a dechristianised or non-Christian society that needed to be won back by an effort to ‘tame’ or reconcile it by means of ‘preliminary action on souls.’64 Again, this prefigured the difference in perspective that the future JOC would experience with respect to pre-existing Catholic Action groups that sought to defend the Church and its traditional role.

Cousin’s pioneering theological framework

In a pioneering book, Cousin endeavoured to provide a theological framework for this work, which he characterised as ‘laïque.’ The Sillon was ‘lay by its action and its object’ since it operated ‘on the side of civil society,’ Cousin explained. It represented ‘an effort of the latter to realise its natural end, namely the reign of social peace in the (social) order through the maintenance of justice and law.’65

‘Civil society is a society as the Church is a society; each of them is a perfect society in the theological-juridical sense of the word,’ Cousin continued, citing the traditional perfect societies theory of church and state,66 which would lose theological favour after Vatican II, ‘because both have their reason for being and their own end.’67 Moreover, in modern society, the division between the two fields was much more accentuated than in the past, Cousin continued, writing only a year after the adoption of France’s 1905 law on the separation of Church and state.

It followed that the role of lay people was increasingly important. ‘Lay people will speak in a different manner than priests,’ Cousin argued. ‘Lay people retain their lay role,’ he added, ‘they wish to be promoters of social well-being, as they should be even if Christ had not founded the Church; they fulfil an indispensable role in the Church because this role is the accomplishment of a duty that natural morality imposes.’ In plain terms, the work of a banker did not lose its lay character simply because the directors of the bank were inspired by Church teaching.68 Similarly, the Sillon’s work of building democracy was also a lay task, Cousin concluded.

25 August 1910: A day of drama

Unsurprisingly, none of this development occurred without conflict. On one hand, the Sillon openly combated the nationalist ‘idolatry’ of Charles Maurras’s Action Française, who despite his own professed atheism continued to gain considerable support from conservative Catholics, some of whom characterised their activities as Action Catholique.69

On the other hand, the Sillon faced increasing criticism inside the Church for insisting on its ‘autonomy,’ which was perceived by many bishops as an attempt to undermine their authority. These critiques found a growing audience at the Holy See among ‘integrists’ including Msgr Umberto Benigni at the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs. ‘These are [the kind of] men who need to be crushed,’ Benigni said of the Sillonists in an ironically prophetic phrase. ‘Otherwise, they divide into two or three pieces, like certain kinds of mollusc that continue to reproduce even more harmfully.’70

Ultimately, on 25 August 1910, the feast of the French king, Saint Louis IX, Pius X wrote to the French bishops in a letter, Notre Charge Apostolique, demanding that Sillon leaders ‘turn their leadership over’ to the bishops, and for the Sillon study circles to re-organise on a diocesan basis ‘independent of each other for the time being’ under the name ‘Sillon Catholique’ without any political involvement.

The Sillon’s aims were ‘a mere verbal and chimerical construction’ based on a ‘jumble’ of words including ‘Liberty, Justice, Fraternity, Love, Equality, and human exultation,’ all of which rested ‘upon an ill-understood human dignity,’ the pope wrote. Moreover, ‘the Sillon, its eyes fixed on a chimera, brings Socialism in its train,’ he cautioned. But perhaps most dangerous of all was ‘the Sillon’s pretension to escape the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical authority,’ Pius X warned.71


To the surprise of their adversaries, the Sillon leaders resigned forthwith, although they did not place themselves at the disposition of their bishops as the pontiff had requested, preferring to allow the Sillon to dissolve. Nevertheless, their ‘submission’ made a great impact.

Meanwhile, other Sillon members and priests moved to the ACJF, bringing its ideas and methods with them. In Rome too, at least a few were stirred by the achievements of the Sillon and wished to preserve its heritage. Young Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pius XII, attempted to address the canonical problems raised by trans-diocesan movements in a paper entitled The Personality and Territoriality of Laws, particularly in Canon Law.72

Later, as Pope Pius XII, his 1944 Christmas Message on democracy would incorporate the Sillon conscience-responsibility binomial in a first step towards reversing Pius X’s condemnation of the Sillon’s definition.73

C. The JOC: A model of Specialised Catholic Action

From the Sillon to the JOC

If building democracy was fundamental to the Sillon, Cardijn’s own priority was to apply the same principles and methods to the development of the worker movement. While teaching at the minor seminary, he continued his research into these issues. Emblematic was his 1911 trip to England where he sought out leading unionists, including the Christian socialist, Ben Tillett. What particularly impressed Cardijn was the ‘self-education’ orientation of the British union movement. In this way, he concluded, workers could liberate themselves and escape the paternalist tutelage of the ruling classes.74

Victor Brants

While the Leplaysian influence on Cardijn permeated his writings so too did that of his mentor, Victor Brants. Whereas Le Play’s social enquiries focused on families and factories, proposing what some saw as welfare solutions, Brants sought to broaden the method to include all fields of social life, aiming to better grasp the ‘causes of the problem’ and the necessary ‘elements of reform.’75

‘Ethics, and par excellence, Christian ethics, must impregnate the whole of social life,’ he also wrote in the Preface to the First Edition of his La Circulation des Hommes et

des Choses: Précis des Leçons d’Economie Politique echoing Ollé-Laprune.76

Moreover, it was Brants who had sponsored Cardijn’s 1907 study tours to Germany and northern France where he first met the Sillon leaders.

Victoire Cappe and Fernand Tonnet

When he was finally appointed as curate at Notre Dame parish in Laeken at Easter 1912, it was therefore only natural that Cardijn would partner with two young people, Victoire Cappe and Fernand Tonnet, both of whom had already been formed in Leplaysian and Sillon methods.

As well as studying with Brants, Cappe learnt the ‘method of democratic education’ from Fr Jean Paisse, a counsellor to the Sillon circle in her home town of Liege.77 In 1906, aged only twenty, she founded a Syndicat de l’Aiguille (Needleworkers Union) and Les Ligues ouvrières féminines chrétiennes (Leagues of Christian Working-Class Women). In 1911, before meeting Cardijn, she published an article ‘Le salaire féminin’ dividing its analysis into: Les faits, Les principes, Les remèdes – Facts, principles, solutions.78

Similarly, Fernand Tonnet, then an 18-year-old bank clerk, soon to become a lay founder of the JOC, sought out Cardijn soon after the latter’s arrival in the parish. He had previously belonged to a study circle at Quiévrain, on the Belgian-French border, where he also learnt Sillon methods from a local priest, Fr Abrassart.79


Upon arrival at Laeken, Cardijn was immediately made responsible for social work projects for women. Although the church adjoined the royal domain, the suburb also housed a large working-class population. ‘My first concern was (Jesus’ phrase): ‘I know my sheep and they know me’,’ Cardijn later wrote, and he wasted no time in setting out to do so.

Within months, he launched his first worker study circles, initially for young teenage female workers. Already the Sillon- and Taine-inspired outline of future developments was starting to emerge: study circles for core group leaders, class-based organisation of the study circles, outreach to the masses via the patronages and social services, as well as spiritual activities, communion, vigils, etc.

Although Cardijn had clashed with Cardinal Mercier, the latter recognised his talents and in 1915 made him responsible for Church ‘social work’ for the whole Brussels region. This included many innovative projects, ranging from savings programs, to worker cooperatives and social services.

World War I interrupted these efforts with Cardijn imprisoned twice by the German occupiers. He grasped the opportunity to read the Bible from cover to cover – and to study Karl Marx’s Capital. Later he would say of Marx that ‘if I had been born thirty-two years earlier and he had been born thirty-two later, he would have been my first Jocist.’80 Jail also blessed him with the time to draft an outline of the future Manuel de la JOC (JOC Manual).

Building on the Sillon heritage

Meanwhile, Cardijn did not hesitate to proclaim his indebtedness to the Sillon. When the Christian trade unions invited Sangnier to Brussels in 1921, he delivered a stirring welcome speech explicitly acknowledging this. ‘The winds of the air and the birds of the sky carry off this seed and deposit it sometimes far away, in a field where God makes it fruitful and multiplies it,’ Cardijn claimed poetically.81 Sangnier himself was deeply moved that Cardijn had ‘attached his movement unhesitatingly and gratefully to our own.’82

Although he cited the Sillon’s conscience/responsibility binomial, Cardijn concluded his speech with an important qualifier: ‘It is not our habit to pronounce the word Democracy by name, we pronounce it by our actions.’83 This was precisely the path he would later follow, adopting the Sillon definition of democracy in countless speeches without ever mentioning the word ‘democracy.’

Nor did Cardijn hesitate to build on the Sillon heritage. ‘Look at the Sillon,’ he wrote to Tonnet in 1919. ‘And yet [our movement] is truer, it’s more worker, it’s poorer! ‘Yes, a lay priesthood,’ he added with overtones of Ozanam, foreshadowing the baptismal theology of the embryonic JOC.84

Towards a Jocist method

From ‘Prayer, study, action’ to ‘See, judge, act’

With the war over, in 1919 Tonnet, Paul Garcet and Jacques Meert launched La Jeunesse Syndicaliste (Trade Union Youth) for young male workers, the forerunner of the Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne (JOC). Among the first young priests to join them was the newly ordained Honoré Van Waeyenbergh, future rector of the University of Louvain, auxiliary bishop and Council Father. A similar effort for young female workers developed in parallel, adopting the name Joie et Travail (Joy and Work) in 1922.

As their experience grew, Cardijn and the other priests and (lay) counsellors of the groups, including Cappe, continued to develop their methods. A workshop in March 1922 sought to synthesise this experience in a series of ‘rules’ for the emerging study circles:

First rule – Social initiation is based on the enquiry.

Second rule – The facts identified by the enquiry must be judged in the light of principles.

Third rule – From ideas it is necessary to pass over to action.85

Facts, principles, action: not necessarily a complete solution (remède) but an action based on facts and principles identified that would start a process of change, both empowering the person and addressing the problem.

Fr René Van Haudenard, who was responsible for Church social work in Charleroi, south of Brussels, wrote the workshop report, illustrating it with the following examples:

A. Bad method. We propose to study the encyclical Rerum Novarum. The encyclical is divided into ten parts of which each part will take up one session; the explanation of the text will be made without commentary, or examples. Result: By the third meeting the members drift away; it is rare that it will not be necessary to soon abandon the program if one wishes to maintain the circle.

B. Proposed method. Detailed and successive enquiries on property, salary, work, etc. as they appear in the living environment (milieu).

Each session will involve examining answers to a questionnaire. Quite naturally the doctrinal points raised in Rerum Novarum will be developed. Result: The members will take an interest in the matter under observation, a social sense will develop, understanding will deepen because people will recall the facts that were the point of departure.

Haudenard’s report thus contrasted this reality-based enquiry method with the doctrinal approach of the old prayer-study-action formula. Perhaps, it was precisely to differentiate it from the ACJF method that Cardijn and the JOC began to express the JOC method in a new triptych: ‘see-judge-act.’86

Doctrinal versus inductive approaches

Once again, the newer method did not go unchallenged. In 1926, the Association catholique de la jeunesse belge (ACJB), modelled on its French counterpart, published a book by the Jesuit, Valère Honnay SJ, entitled Les cercles sociaux de doctrine catholique, Méthode de formation sociale.

The book’s very title underlined its orientation, as did Chapter III, Doctrine d’abord! – Doctrine first! In support of this approach, it cited Charles Maurras, the reactionary Cardinal Louis Billot SJ, who refused to accept Pius XI’s condemnation of the Action Française, and Jacques Maritain.87

Here, Honnay specifically criticised ‘the false empiricism of the Sillon, an empiricism extremely suspicious of what it calls the sumptuous constructions of theoreticians and mixed with sentimental idealism,’ in a pejorative reference to Gratry, whom he listed with several ‘left-wing Catholics’ including Lamennais, Lacordaire, Ozanam and Ollé-Laprune.88

Nevertheless, he did not completely reject the Sillon approach.89 What was needed was to balance the reality-based approach with the doctrinal approach, a critique to which Cardijn paid close attention.

A holistic approach reconciling faith and life

Cardijn faced much more opposition in the early years of the development of the JOC. Among the most challenging critiques concerned the way in which the JOC’s holistic approach shattered the mould of existing Church programs:

The total novelty of the JOC explains it… The JOC aimed to be the response of working youth itself to the problems of their own life, of their own milieu of life, to the needs of that life, its age, its conditions, its future. Material, professional, family, social, intellectual, moral and religious.90

This broke down the silos into which spiritual, charitable, social and other Church activities were often divided. Moreover, as the French Bishop Alfred Ancel, a founding chaplain of the JOC at Lyons, would later observe, the ‘novel’ methods of the JOC overcame the traditional dualism that separated the spiritual and temporal spheres.91

Nevertheless, this cross-cutting approach was not easily accepted.


Cardijn’s transversal method was a natural consequence of a discovery model of education or formation starting from the life-experience of young workers.92 In this Taine-inspired model, the process of discovery moved concentrically outward enabling each person to discover their mission to progressively transform the circumstances of their own life, the milieu in which they lived and worked, and ultimately the life of ‘the (working) masses.’

This implied an organisational model that moved from local (parish or diocese) to regional and global (international) level. As the Sillon had experienced, this became another stumbling block for the JOC in its relations with a Church hierarchy obsessed with the exercise of its own authority.

The JOC also encountered a further degree of difficulty deriving precisely from its specialisation by milieu approach. Whereas the Sillon formed study circles comprising both students, who were, by definition, middle class or bourgeois, and young workers, i.e. from the working class, Cardijn, never wavered in his commitment to a movement specifically for young workers, who belonged to a distinct social ‘milieu.

Inevitably this sparked further conflict with the ACJB. To add fuel to a combustible mix, Pius XI had become pope, making Catholic Action the leitmotif of his pontificate. Since his predecessor Pius X had turned Catholic Action in Italy in 1905 into a replacement for the more democratically inclined Opera dei Congressi, it was unsurprising that leaders of the ACJB, which identified itself with hierarchically-controlled ‘Catholic Action,’ assumed that Pius XI would continue the same line.

This new emphasis on Catholic Action may have concerned Cardijn too. But rather than fighting the ACJB’s purported monopoly over the right to organise Catholic youth, Cardijn and the embryonic JOC agreed to join while insisting on maintaining the new movement’s autonomy. Moreover, deferring to criticism of its secular-sounding name, the movement changed its name to Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne in 1924.

The JOC: From Belgium to the world

Tensions and threats

Despite these efforts, the JOC’s specialised approach continued to be perceived as ‘a threat,’ ‘divisive,’ and even ‘a mortal danger for Catholic Action.’93 With the first national congress of the JOC planned for April 1925, the pressure was on Mercier to rule on the legitimacy of the new movement, as Cardijn recalled:

The cardinal presided as if over a tribunal, with his vicar-general Msgr Van Roey as his counsel. Msgr Picard led the prosecution, insisting above all on the unity of the Mystical Body, shattered by the JOC. I replied. And the cardinal concluded with a sentence that seemed to be a condemnation of the JOC.94

Given this critique, how could the cardinal now offer his formal approval to a new movement that publicly proclaimed its indebtedness to the Sillon, which had been ‘condemned’ by Pius X only fifteen years before?

Recognition and approval by Pope Pius XI

Cardijn and the JOC were now trapped. The only option that remained was to launch an unlikely appeal to the Holy See, to Pope Pius XI himself. Yet, in a legendary event, Cardijn succeeded in obtaining a personal audience in March 1925 with the pope, who fully approved the JOC, guaranteeing its future, as Cardijn often repeated:

Pius XI said to me: ‘Without the working class, the Church is not the Church of Christ… Yes, kill yourself to bring them back to the Church. The greatest scandal of the nineteenth century is that the Church lost the working class… Your movement is not your movement, it’s mine, it belongs to the Church.’95

How did this occur? On one hand, Cardijn, already a networker without peer, succeeded in obtaining a letter of introduction from the then nuncio, Archbishop Clement Micara, and even a letter from Mercier himself.96

However, Fiévez and Meert also credited Cardijn’s spiritual adviser, the Jesuit sociologist and canonist at the Gregorian University, Arthur Vermeersch, and Msgr Gaston Vanneufville, the Rome-based Lille-born French priest, who had previously attempted to intercede on behalf of the Sillon,97 with facilitating the audience.98 In 1908, Vanneufville had been present at discussions of the ‘indispensable’ need to find a replacement for Marc Sangnier. Moreover, Pius XI, like Benedict XV before him, wanted Sangnier to relaunch the Sillon, partly to combat the influence of the Action Française.99

In this context, Cardijn, who had also worked to combat Maurras’s influence in Belgium, emerged as the sought-for successor to Sangnier. Moreover, the fact that Cardijn was a priest meant that, unlike the Sillon, the new movement no longer escaped hierarchical control.

Thus, as Cardijn expressed it, ‘it was Pope Pius XI who saved the JOC’ and allowed the new movement ‘to develop its conception of Catholic Action applied to the re-christianisation of the working class.’100 Moreover, insofar as Pius XI’s endorsement meant that the JOC’s methods were now recognised as Catholic Action, by implication so too were the Sillon’s methods.

The JOC booms

Arriving back in Belgium, Cardijn, a born propagandist, trumpeted the news of his meeting with Pius XI, meaning that the first JOC national congress took place in the glow of pontifical approval. Over the next three years new JOC sections organised in four national level federations (male/female, French/Flemish) sprouted across the country while membership surged to 50,000.101

By 1927, the JOC had crossed the border into France, where a generation of priests who had experienced the great times and the bitter times of the Sillon – many now in responsible positions – and a younger generation formed by Gratry’s Les sources and Ollé-Laprune’s Le prix de la vie stood ready to welcome Cardijn’s new movement.102

Four years later in 1931, the JOC was launched in French-speaking Canada. The next year it reached Colombia. In 1936, the first JOC groups began in the French protectorate of Annam, the future Vietnam. By the mid-1930s, news had also reached Australia where the first YCW teams began in 1939. Astonishingly, the movement reached fifty countries before World War II broke out.

Meanwhile, confirming Benigni’s fears of an eventual multiplication of the splintered Sillon, other ‘Specialised Catholic Action’ movements emerged for students (Jeunesse Etudiante Chrétienne/JEC or Young Christian Students/YCS for high school pupils and Jeunesse Universitaire Chrétienne/JUC for their university counterparts), for young farmers (Jeunesse Agricole Chrétienne/JAC). By 1930, the new movements controlled the ACJB, while a similar phenomenon occurred with the ACJF in France.

A perfect form of Catholic Action

Pius XI’s support was crucial here. Inviting the JOC leaders on pilgrimage to Rome in September 1929, he stated that the JOC ‘had perfectly interpreted’ Catholic Action as evidenced by the movement’s publications that ‘we have been able to read.’ In a phrase often cited by Cardijn right up to Vatican II, the pope characterised the Jocist leaders as ‘missionaries of the interior,’ placing them under the patronage of St Therese of Lisieux.103

In 1935 to mark its tenth anniversary, the JOC organised its first international congress, opening with a mass before a crowd of 100,000 at Heysel Stadium in Brussels on 25 August 1935, twenty-five years to the day after Pius X had ‘condemned’ the Sillon. Even more significantly, the pope sent an autograph letter to Mercier’s successor, Cardinal Josef-Ernest Van Roey, explicitly endorsing the movement as ‘an authentic form of Catholic Action.’104 Years later, Cardinal Eugène Tisserant would tell Cardijn that Pius XI had confided to him that ‘it was you (Cardijn) who taught him the meaning of Catholic Action.’105

Duly impressed, Van Roey commented that it was ‘no longer possible to doubt’ the JOC’s ‘hierarchical mandate.’ ‘The JOC is truly an institution of the Church, official and public, charged by the Hierarchy with the reconquest of the young workers,’ he concluded.106

The astonishing outcome was that, after starting completely outside the framework of Catholic Action, by the time of the death of Pius XI, the JOC and its sister specialised movements had transformed the heritage of the Lamennais and the Sillon into a family of ‘specialised’ movements that was already sweeping the globe.


1John W. O’Malley, What Happened at Vatican II (Cambridge MA – London: Belknap Press, 2008).

2Joseph Cardijn, “My reading,” 1955: https://www.josephcardijn.com/en/item/98

3O’Malley, Vatican II, 39.

4Félicité de Lamennais, “Du catholicisme dans ses rapports avec la société politique,” in Oeuvres complètes, Vol. 6 (Paris: Pagnerre, Paris: 1844), 58.

5L’Avenir, 07/12/1830 quoted in Philippe Portier, L’Eglise française face au modèle français de laïcité, in Archives de sciences sociales des religions, 129 (January-March 2005): http://journals.openedition.org/assr/1115

6Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos, Encyclical Letter, 1832.

7Frédéric Ozanam, “A Dom Prosper Guéranger,” 29/01/1847, in Vol. II, Lettres de Frédéric Ozanam, L’engagement (1845-1849), ed. Didier Ozanam. (Paris: CELSE, 1978), 238.

8Frédéric Ozanam, “A François Lallier,” 23/09/1835, in Lettres de Frédéric Ozanam, II, 193.

9Austin Fagan, Through the eye of a needle, Frédéric Ozanam (London: St Paul’s Publications, 1991), 21.

10Antoine Ricard, L’école mennaisienne. Lacordaire, 4th ed. (Paris: Plon, Nourrit, 1888), 241: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k6543178r/f262

11Frédéric Ozanam, “A l’abbé Alphonse Ozanam,” 15/03/1848 in Vol. III, Lettres de Frédéric Ozanam, Premières années à la Sorbonne (1841-1844), ed. Jeanne Caron. (Paris: CELSE, 1971), 391.

12“A l’abbé Alphonse Ozanam.”

13A Théophile Foisset,” 22/02/1848, in Lettres de Frédéric Ozanam, III, 378.

14Henri Guillemin, Histoire des catholiques français au XIXe siècle (1815-1905) (Geneva: Au milieu du monde, 1947), 211.

15Joseph Cardijn, “Welcome to Marc Sangnier,” 05/02/1921: https://www.josephcardijn.com/en/item/15

16Alphonse Gratry, Oeuvres posthumes, Souvenirs de ma jeunesse (Paris: Charles Douniol et Cie, 1874), 38-48.

17Paul Poupard, Un essai de philosophie chrétienne au XIXe siècle, L’abbé Louis Bautain (Tournai-Paris: Desclée, 1961), 359.

18Alphonse Gratry, L’abbé Pichot, ed., Pages choisies des grands écrivains: Le Rev. P. Gratry, 2nd ed. (Paris: Armand Colin, 1913), xvi.

19Ibid., 29-30.

20Alphonse Gratry, Les sources (Première partie), Conseils pour la conduite de l’esprit (Paris: Charles Douniol et Cie, 1864).

21Gratry, Les sources, I, 76.

22Ibid., 78.

23Alphonse Gratry, Logique, Vol. I (Paris: Charles Douniol et Cie, 1854), 128.

24Gratry, Logique, I, 115.

25Léon Ollé-Laprune, Eloge du Père Gratry (Paris: Téqui-Le Coffre, 1896), 18.


27Maguelone Nouvel, Frédéric Le Play, Une réforme sociale sous le Second Empire (Paris: Economica, 2009), 17.

28Nouvel, Le Play, 43.

29Frédéric Le Play, La réforme sociale, Déduite de l’observation comparée des peuples européens, Vol. I, 3rd ed. (Paris: E. Dentu, 1867), 57.

30Antoine Savoye, “Le Play, Frédéric,” Encyclopédie Universalis: http://www.universalis.fr/encyclopedie/frederic-le-play/

31Gabriel Mélin, “Préface,” in R.P. Schwalm, Leçons de philosophie sociale, Vol. I (Paris: Bloud et Cie, 1910), xii: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k5482085w/f17

32Georges Goyau, “Introduction” in Léon Ollé-Laprune, La vitalité chrétienne, 15th ed. (Paris: Perrin, 1925), xx.

33Myles Hannan, “Maurice Blondel – the Philosopher of Vatican II,” The Heythrop Journal, 56, No 6 (November 2015).

34Léon Ollé-Laprune, La philosophie et le temps présent (Paris: Bélin Frères, 1890), 297.

35Ollé-Laprune, La philosophie, 319.

36Ibid., 323.

37Léon Ollé-Laprune, Essai sur la morale d’Aristote (Paris: Bélin Frères, 1881), 57.

38Ibid., 54-55.

39Ollé-Laprune, Aristote, 46-47.

40Ollé-Laprune, Aristote, 8.

41Ibid., 23.

42Léon Ollé-Laprune, Le prix de la vie, 3rd ed. (Paris: Bélin Frères, 1896), i.

43Ibid., 65.

44Ibid., 92.

45Ibid., 157.

46Ollé-Laprune, Le prix, 107.

47Ibid., xiv.

48Ollé-Laprune, Le prix, viii.

49Léon Ollé-Laprune, “La recherche des questions pressantes,” in Léon Ollé-Laprune, La vitalité chrétienne, edited by Georges Goyau. (Paris: Perrin, 1901)201-203.

50 Ollé-Laprune, “La recherche,” 203.

51Jeanne Caron, Le Sillon et la démocratie chrétienne, 1894-1910 (Paris: Plon, 1967), 66.

52Caron, Le Sillon, 68.

53 Stefan Gigacz, “Lamennais, Le Sillon and serendipidity.” (2012).


54Ibid., 95.

55Ibid., 111.

56Marc Sangnier, Le Bulletin de la Crypte, 1899, quoted in Caron, Le Sillon, 306.

57AD Sertillanges, La philosophie morale de Saint Thomas d’Aquin (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1916), 220.

58Caron, Le Sillon, 57

59Donald Geoffrey Charlton, “Hippolyte Taine,” Encyclopaedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hippolyte-Taine

60Marc Sangnier, L’Esprit démocratique (Paris: Perrin, 1905), 167. Note that in French the word ‘conscience’ means both conscience and consciousness in English.

61Louis Cousin, Vie et doctrine du Sillon (Paris: Emmanuel Vitte, 1905), 98-99.

62Ibid., 125.

63Charles Molette, L’Association catholique de la jeunesse française 1886-1907 (Paris: Armand Colin, 1968), 75.

64Caron, Le Sillon, 258.

65Cousin, Vie et doctrine, 51.

66Charles Macksey, “State and Church,” Catholic Encyclopaedia, 1913: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/State_and_Church

67Cousin, Vie et doctrine, 51.

68Ibid., 53-55.

69Caron, Le Sillon, 418-419.

70Madeleine Barthélemy-Madaule, Marc Sangnier 1873-1950 (Paris: Seuil, 1973), 184; Caron, Le Sillon, 655; Jean Desgranges, Carnets intimes, Journal d’un conférencier populaire (Paris-Geneva: La Palatine, 1960), 44.

71Pius X, Notre charge apostolique: http://www.sillon.net/our-apostolic-mandate

72 Eugenio Pacelli, La personnalite et la territorialité des lois particulièrement dans le droit canon (Rome: Scientia Catholica, 1945).

73Pius XII, Benignitas et humanitas, Christmas message 1944: https://www.papalencyclicals.net/pius12/p12xmas.htm

74Joseph Cardijn, “Visit to England,” 1960?: https://www.josephcardijn.com/en/item/102

75A. Julin, “Notice sur Victor Brants,” in Annuaire de l’Académie (Brussels: Académie Royale de Belgique, 1936), 175.

76Victor Brants, La circulation des hommes et des choses: précis des leçons d’économie politique (Louvain: Peeters, 1892), x.

77Stefan Gigacz, The Sillon and the IYCW, 1997: http://www.sillon.net/laeken-and-brussels

78Victoire Cappe, “Le salaire féminin” in La femme belge, Education et action sociales, Rapports et documents (Brussels: Bibliothèque de la Revue Sociale Catholique, 1911): http://www.victoirecappe.com/p/chapitre-iv-le-salaire-feminin.html

79Gigacz, The Sillon

80Quoted by Basile Maes in Geert Delbeke, André Gailly and Jacques Briard, translators, Basile Maes – Un homme de foi et un ami, (Privately published by the author and translators, undated), 8.

81Cardijn, “Welcome to Marc Sangnier.”

82Marc Sangnier in L’Ame Commune, 16/02/1921.

83Cardijn, “Welcome.”

84Cardijn to Tonnet, 12/01/1920, in Marc Walckiers, Sources inédites relatives aux débuts de la JOC (Brussels-Leuven: Nauwelaerts, 1970), 13.

85René Van Haudenard, “La formation sociale aux cercles d’études,” in La Femme belge, 03/1922: https://www.josephcardijn.com/fr/item/1176

86Joseph Cardijn, “La Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne,” 1928: https://www.josephcardijn.com/fr/item/1055

87V. Honnay, Les cercles sociaux de doctrine catholique, Méthode de formation sociale (Louvain-Paris: La Jeunesse Catholique – A. Giraudon, 1926), 62-63.

88Ibid., 66.

89Honnay, Les cercles sociaux, 75.

90Cardijn, “The difficulties,” 1955: https://www.josephcardijn.com/en/item/101

91Joseph Jacquet/Alfred Ancel, Un militant ouvrier dialogue avec un évêque (Paris: Editions Ouvrières – Editions Sociales, 1982), 126-132: https://www.josephcardijn.com/fr/item/1840


93Cardijn, “The difficulties.

94Cardijn, “The difficulties.

95Cardijn, “Meeting with Pope Pius XI,” 1962: https://www.josephcardijn.com/en/item/109


97Caron, Le Sillon, 693.

98Fiévez-Meert, Cardijn, 75.

99Barthélemy-Madaule, Marc Sangnier, 284.

100Cardijn, “The difficulties.”

101Cardijn, “La Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne,” 1928.

102Stefan Gigacz, “Two JOC Theologians from Lille: Pierre Tiberghien and Palémon Glorieux. Interface Theology – Volume 5, Issue 1, by ATF Press, ATF (Australia) Ltd., Australia, 2019, 53–72. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv1dwq0mm.6

103Pius XI, “Le discours du Saint Père aux pèlerins jocistes,” 1925: https://www.josephcardijn.com/fr/item/1391

104Pius XI, “Lettre autographe au Cardinal JE Van Roey,” 19/08/1935: https://www.josephcardijn.com/fr/item/1161

105Note by Marguerite Fiévez and letter to Cardijn by Sandro Berti, 24/06/1964, AC245: https://www.josephcardijn.com/fr/item/1975

106Joseph Cardijn, “Devant un nouveau paganisme,” in Notes de Pastorale Jociste, 7, N° 2 (1937): 50-53: https://www.josephcardijn.com/en/item/29