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 over 50 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 few people remain who actually knew and worked with Cardijn.
Who will know Cardijn in the future? And how will they know him? How will they know what he taught?
We 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 concern for workers, particularly young workers around the world.