Doctor of the Church proposal 1981

In 1981, Romeo Maione, a former Canadian YCW leader and president of the International YCW who worked with Cardijn, proposed that Cardijn to be made a Doctor of the Church.


At a recent International YCW meeting held in Brussels, the idea of asking the Church to proclaim Cardinal Cardijn a doctor of the church was discussed. The essence of a doctor is to diagnose and heal illness. Cardijn discovered after very many efforts to reach modern working youth that they suffered from the dreadful disease of alienation. Young workers had accepted that they were nothing. Young workers were the first to accept that they were nothing. After all, they were told that they were nothing. This deadly illness is very contagious and rapidly embraced the rest of modern society.

Cardijn received the normal seminary training. He was trained to be an intellectual but he could not accept the traditional role of intellectuals, today I think, tomorrow all will come to understand what I know. This role was to pull all the rest towards the ideal. They came to thinking that it was their role to pull the masses towards the light.

What Cardijn discovered was that culture is but the reflection of the masses. It is the masses that build up a culture. Without the participation of the new masses, the industrial workers, a new culture could not be built. The modern world could not reflect the glory of the creator if the world was to continue insisting that workers were nothing. If the masses are treated as nothing, then the whole culture must necessarily be embraced as nothingness. Nothingness cannot be the centre of culture. Nothingness can only beget nothingness.

Cardijn insisted that the illness of alienation can only be cured by faith. It is in this cure that Cardijn is at his best. the act of faith is not outside of the person but rather it is an act of faith in oneself. This is the first step in a very long process of spiritual growth. It is only with this act of faith that one hopefully will make an act of faith in the creator that lives at the centre of creation and even more intimately in the depths of the person.

Cardijn cured the deadly illness of alienation by asking young workers to believe in their dignity and importance. Without this act of genuine faith, all other acts of faith but confirms their nothingness.

This is the first and most essential step towards the discovery of oneself. Cardijn did not bring the light to young workers rather he allowed them to discover the light that lives eternally in every person. This incredible act of faith must necessarily precede all other acts of faith. how can one believe in another person if one does not believe in himself. How can one believe in Jesus if one does not believe in oneself.

This act of faith in one’s very uniqueness and irreplaceability must necessarily precede the seeking of social justice, yes, and even evangelization. The first step of evangelisation that is bringing the good news to workers is that they are important, their work is important. God waits patiently for this discovery. Without this first step, we are condemned to confirm alienation.

The church has still to discover that one cannot build an edifice of faith without first allowing the faith to develop in the very inner spaces of modern nothingness.

The time is ripe with a new millenium around the corner of history for millions of young workers and students who found real faith through the methods and teachings of Cardijn to ask the Church to declare Cardijn a true doctor of the church. I am not sure of the church process in declaring one a doctor but surely if the Church is to receive a million or so letters asking that the Church name Cardijn a doctor of the Church something is bound to happen.

Romeo Maione