Cardijn: Prophetic and visionary

Joseph Cardijn : because each worker is worth more than all the gold in the world …

The encyclical Rerum Novarum, inspiring Cardijn ...

The death of his father, young Joseph promised that he would become a priest in the service of the workers. He kept his promise and how …

After his ordination , he studied the situation of the labor movements in Western Europe.

Early action Cardijn rooted in the grim reality of the nineteenth century characterized by the breakthrough revolutionary political thought , the capitalist system plunging workers in an unfair and any influence of religion on public life misery as said in essence the beginning of Rerum Novarum . This encyclical 1891 marked Joseph Cardijn like many other young priests .

Love of the Church

Cardijn was always a man of the Church . His speeches usually ended with a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and the Church. He would personally attest his fidelity to the various popes. He was a priest , but it was still important the role and presence of the chaplain and priest in smaller sections as internationally. The best priests for his movements were not good enough. He never failed to express the Church ‘s young workers while struggling for the Church to take care of each young person. His choice of church man investing for the poor was reflected in its motto bishop Evangelisare pauperibus . He wanted to bring the Church to its YCW , including during the liturgical year. On Good Friday he organized , at the time of Christ’s death , an action in which the YCW stop working to pray near the cross . Cardijn was a man of the Church until the end. He was grateful to the Pope, who appointed cardinal. He saw a form of recognition and appreciation for the movement . For him, the secular and the lay apostolate should play a major role in the Church.

Lay people in the front lines

Catholic social movements have emerged under the leadership of the Church in favor of workers , peasants, merchants, Catholic Action organizations for men and women , boys and girls … Originally , priests and clerics held a central place , then lay gradually played a more prominent role , indicating a move towards opening the “world” and the Catholic witness in the world – a real revolution in the designs of the Church. Leken in his book of Voorste linie ( Lay the front line ) , published in 1963, is not only prophetic and visionary, but also steeped in intense love for the Church .

Cardijn’s crucial role

Cardijn YCW and youth played a crucial role in this change . They embodied the change, they materialize emphasizing the unshakable link between Catholic action and social action in the spirit of the encyclical Rerum Novarum , entrusting responsibilities to lay and youth. Faced with inequality and less opportunities Cardijn said, ” you must act yourself , you must get yourself your freedom …”.

See, judge, act

Cardijn was not a theoretician as an enthusiastic man of action, he was touched by the plight of workers in the early 20th century. And, as we have seen, the workers themselves were the keys to their emancipation in hand. ” External leaders can not take the place of younger workers. They must transform their world themselves. ” For this purpose , a large training essential. Through his method see , judge, act , it was the precursor of many modern social educators . It is the young workers themselves who decide what they will learn and where. Educators can take their place. They can only help . Similarly, it is not the leaders who change society, but they are caught in it.

Lay apostolate

Catholic working class youth in all its forms provides , generation after generation , executives movements and organizations listed and finally , almost paradoxically , opened the way for the Second Vatican Council and the lay apostolate in itself.

More than one part of the JOC , consisting Cardijn , went to work as a lay apostle in the developing countries of South America , Africa and Asia and played a key role and very active in worldwide in all layers of the social movement. With the call Cardijn , based on the absolute belief in the unique value of every person and hidden leader of many of these qualities , many young people are poorly educated and transcended assumèrent , against all odds , societal responsibilities including the service of the weak and wounded in particular, and both local and regional levels , provincial or national level. Dynamism in terms of well -being, health , relaxation , family and faith had , and still have no doubt an undeniable influence. 

Politically, the leaders of the JOC and its Flemish wing ( VKAJ ) played an important role in the development of a social structure in order to defend the common interests and the interests of workers .

Defense of human dignity

The time Cardijn was marked by wars , depreciation and human brutishness , tens of millions of deaths, the extermination of races and peoples , as well as human suffering and moral immense.

Twice Cardijn was on the go and could not remain silent ” non possumus not loqui . ” . During the two world wars, he rebelled against deportation and inhumane oppression , which led to his being arrested several times and imprisoned.

Spurred Cardijn , youth workers campaigned for morality in the thirties. This campaign showed an unambiguous choice for the dignity of the human person, choices that acquired its full extent at a time of human decay in the Second World War constituted a climax – if one can say – unprecedented . The YCW youth, his doctrine and trained leaders were , at the time, act as a bulwark against the delusion of National Socialism .

Cardijn Without Borders

After two devastating world wars when the great colonial empires were dismantled . Mission countries became countries in developing and colonial paternalism gave way to the recognition of the specificity of other cultures.

Cardijn played a remarkable role, including in this last phase, when he discovered Africa and Asia. There was no distinction between white, black , yellow or red , because all human beings are ” children of God.” The YCW Asia, Africa and Latin America organizations proved a powerful tool for the empowerment of young people. Cardijn and action had literally crossed the border and found echo in the papal encyclicals such as Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris in the early sixties. His influence on the genesis of the encyclical Mater et Magistra and the Constitution Gaudium et Spes of Vatican II is notorious. Its unique method is clearly there . Belgian and Flemish JOC has devoted most of these forces to global development project . Today, the spirit of Cardijn remains alive in the third world even more than ours.

Prophet and visionary

Certainly Cardijn YCW and youth are rooted in a time and context. Similarly, there is no doubt they marked their time. PROPHETIC AND VISIONARY , inhabited by the force of a conviction, Cardijn was his time, even more often ahead of his time. There are no revolution led with YCW . Cardijn was with them the revolution. And it is always so .

Guy Tordeur


(NB:  Google translation only)