Former IYCW leaders endorse call 1999

The 1981 proposal for Cardijn to be made a Doctor of the Church was again endorsed by a group of 20 former IYCW leaders at a meeting in Brussels in April 1999 to prepare the 75th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the movement. This is a news report of that meeting.

Alienation – Disease of the Modern World

‘The disease of the modern world is alienation,’ Romeo Maione, first elected president of the IYCW, told former YCWs in a key intervention at the 9 April consultation in Brussels to prepare the International History Colloquy in May 2000.

‘The new industrial economy of the 19th century looked upon workers as hands. Even to this day workers are looked upon as producers to be used.

‘Young workers down deep when they are alone, think “I am just a worker – I am not important”. And the modern culture thunders back: “You are right, you are nothing.”

Cardijn – The Healer

‘This dialogue is modern alienation. It is this “sickness unto death” that Cardijn came to heal. His electrifying words: “You are more important than all the gold of the world – You are destined to be Sons of God”.

‘With these words Cardijn exorcised the dread feeling of nothingness that is rampant in our culture.

‘Nothingness can only be cured by one’s act of faith in one’s dignity and importance.

‘Cardijn was a man of great faith. He believed, with an intensity that reached white heat that young workers had an irreplaceable role to play in the world and the church. His faith met becoming happened.

‘Cardijn’s message provides the medicine for the modern world, the medicine to heal the great disease of alienation.’

Doctor of the Church

‘The Church also must hear Cardijn’s message and this is why he needs to be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church – so that his message – the message of the YCW – will be heard by the modern world,’ Romeo concluded.

This proposal was warmly received by the 20 participants at the consultation. Bartolo Perez emphasised the ‘capital importance of Cardijn’s practical theology’ for the YCW and for the YCW History Project.

M.J. Ruben (India) also noted the ‘relevance of Cardijn’s message in the 21st century for workers confronting globalisation’ while Maria Meersman highlighted Cardijn‘s efforts to bring his message to the Church.

Focus for the Colloquy

The consultation concluded that Cardijn’s message of healing for the modern disease of alienation should be be a focal point, together with YCW action, for the International Colloquy on YCW History.

We will have a lot of work to do in the coming months to do justice to this heritage of Cardijn and the YCW.


Consultation with Former YCWs 9 April 1999 (