Why canonise Cardijn?

Since Cardijn died in 1967, many people have asked whether or not it would be opportune to launch the process for his canonisation.

In the past, there has been a certain understandable reluctance to initiate such a move, particularly on the part of those who lived and worked with him.

Former IYCW president Romeo Maione preferred to propose that Cardijn should be appointed Doctor of the Church to emphasise his role as a teacher and healer. CCI has also long supported this campaign.

On the other hand, Cardijn's disdain for honours of any kind is well known. He felt repelled by obsequious kowtowing to high-ranking Church officials and even more by the trappings that accompanied such posts.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, he accepted Pope Paul VI's appointment as a bishop and cardinal after the pope convinced him that it was for the benefit of the Young Christian Workers (YCW) and the young workers.

Moreover, in January 1938, Cardijn sent a signed petition to Pope Pius XI on behalf of the YCW to back the beatification causes of Margaret Sinclair, a Scottish young worker who became a nun, and Pier-Giorgio Frassati, a young Italian student and social activist.

And in 1965, he foreshadowed the launch of a the canonisation process for YCW co-founders, Fernand Tonnet and Paul Garcet, who both died in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

Indeed, the French YCW leader, Marcel Callo has already been beatified. Similarly, the process for canonising Fr George Guérin, founder of the French YCW, is already under way. And in fact many former YCWs have started to ask, how can we canonise Guérin without also canonising Cardijn?

Today, it is now 45 years since Cardijn's death in 1967, 130 years since his birth in 1882, and one hundred years since he founded the first groups of the YCW movement in Laeken, Belgium in 1912.

Now there is almost no-one under the age of 75 who actually knew and worked with Cardijn. In addition, the ranks of those older than 75 who knew Cardijn are rapidly thinning.

Who will know Cardijn in the future? And how will they know him? How will they know what he taught?

Go to Amazon.com and search on Cardijn. The most recent book written by Cardijn that is available is Laymen into Action published in 1963, during the Second Vatican Council.

Even on the French Amazon.fr website, there is nothing recent available that is written by Cardijn.

Moreover, no significant biography of Cardijn has been published in either French or English since the early 1970s.

Consult the 3000 page five volume History of Vatican II edited by Guiseppe Alberigo and Joseph Komonchak. Cardijn's role as an expert and Council is mentioned only ten times, mostly in insignificant footnotes.

Fifty years after Vatican II, CCI members feel that it is time to start to restore the memory of Cardijn.

First of all this involves making available and promoting the study of Cardijn's thought and methods.

Thus, we have launched the JosephCardijn.com website to make available online Cardijn's writings in English. We have also launched the JosephCardijn.fr website to make available the many writings of Cardijn in their original language, many of which have never been translated into other languages.

Similarly, CCI's Cardijn Media publishing arm has already published several key speeches of Cardijn, including the three speeches he delivered at Vatican II.

CCI has also launched the process of gathering testimonies from those who knew and worked with Cardijn, e.g. Flo Triendl, former translator for the IYCW and extension worker in South Africa, Betty Villa, former vice-president of the IYCW, Fr Thomas Joseph, former YCW chaplain from India, etc.

We therefore see promoting Cardijn's canonisation as another way of promoting his life and work.

It is also a way of renewing our awareness of his lifelong pre-occupation with workers, particularly young workers around the world.