Canon Cardijn Visits England

Canon Cardijn, founder of the Young Christian Workers, is spending a few weeks in England and will broadcast next Friday in the B.B.C. Home Service, in the “Christian Outlook” series.

Addressing a 2000-strong Y.C.W. rally in London on Wednesday, Canon Cardijn emphasized that anti-Communism and anti-working class attitudes will not save the world.

“The solution,” he said, lies in mutual, understanding in order to build a social order based on Christian principles. Many Governments and businessmen adopt a purely negative attitude towards workers’ movements and particularly towards Communism. Our hope is not in the atomic bomb, but in the strength of the spiritual potentialities of the peoples of the world.”


Canon Cardijn Visits England (Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954), Thursday 24 November 1949, page 5) (Trove)

Church Needs Militant Lay Missionaries

Pope Pius XI Astounded at Workers Ignorance of Catholic Social Teaching, Says Canon Cardijn

DURING his six days in England on his return trip from the United States, Canon Cardijn Belgian founder of the world wide Young Christian Workers, told audiences in the north and south of England of the direct commission he received from Pope Pius XI to start his movement and of the Holy-Father’s consternation when he was told that the working classes knew nothing of the Church’s social teaching.

Canon Cardijn said that he was trembling when he sought his first interview with Pope Pius XI to put before him his great desire—to win the working-class masses for the Church.

“While I was speaking,” said the Canon, “the Pope stopped me and said: ‘This is the first time that anyone has come to me and said that he wanted to win the masses. Everyone says: “I will form an elite; I will form a little group of good Christians.” It is not an elite that the Church needs, not a small group, but the masses of the working classes.’


“Then the Pope said to me the words you have heard repeated so often: ‘The greatest scandal of the 19th century is that the Church lost the masses of the working class. The greatest service you can do to the Church is to win them back. The masses of the working class need the Church, but the Church needs the masses of the working class’.”

Canon Cardijn then quoted the following words uttered to him by the Holy Father during the same interview: “I can write Encyclicals, I can write about social doctrine, I can speak on the radio, but I cannot go into the factories, into the shops, into the offices, into the mines, and I cannot spread the doctrines of the Church. Nor can the Bishops^ nor the priests do this, for these places are closed to them. Therefore, the Church needs thousands upon thousands of militant, lay missionaries, young working boys and girls who are the representatives of the Church in their working environment. Everywhere there is a burning desire for the re-conquest of the masses of the people, the masses of the working classes of the world.”

Canon Cardijn went on to recall an audience which the Archbishop of Toulouse, Cardinal Saliege, had with the late Pope, in which he told his Holiness that the working class knew nothing of the Church’s social teaching. “Is that possible!” exclaimed the Pope. “Fifty-five years after ‘Rerum Novarum,’ 15 years after ‘Quadragesimo Anno,’ a Cardinal comes to tell me that the people know nothing about the Encyclicals, know nothing about the social doctrine of the Church. Is that possible? In the dilferent countries of the world there are people .who do not know the social doctrine of the Gospels, of Jesus Christ, of the Popes, that I myself have repeated so often by Encyclical, by letter and by the wireless!”

Canon Cardijn declared that the present Holy Father has told him: “I want for the future of the Church a very strong international organisation of Young Christian Workers in every country.”

During his short stay in England, Canon Cardijn addressed two meetings in London, in the presence of Cardinal Griffin and Archbishop Amigo of Southwark, one in Manchester and, finally, a national rally in Liverpool. He told the Y.C.W. members that the British Empire and the United States looked to the English Y.C.W. for leadership in the apostolate for the restoration of the working classes to Christ, and he added: “From what I have seen, that leadership will be forthcoming.” Soon he is to go to Rome to tell the Pope the results of his tour.

“I shall tell him,” he said, “that I have found the movement strong and virile in spirit in England and with immense possibilities in the Americas.”


Church Needs Militant Lay Missionaries (Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954), Wednesday 25 September 1946, page 3) (Trove)

English Y.C.W. Leader in Melbourne

Splendid Example of Workers’ Movement


G UEST speaker at the Melbourne Y.C.W. Leaders’ Communion breakfast in the Cathedral Hall, on Sunday, September 30, was Vin. Mc-Kenna, a 21-year-old leader of the Y.C.W. in England. Vin’s ship is at present based at Sydney, and he has just spent a fortnight’s leave getting to know the Australian Y.C.W. in Melbourne. One hundred and fifty leaders participated in the Melbourne Y.C.W. Leaders’ General Communion at the 9.30 a.m. Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Celebrant of the Mass was Rev. F. W. Lombard, diocesan chaplain of the Melbourne Y.C.W. Fr. Lombard based his sermon on the text from St. John’s first epistle, chapter 2: “I write unto you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.” Lekders of the Y.C.W., Fr. Lombard said, could take those words of St. John as being addressed to themselves to-day. The challenge had gone out to youth today. It was up to youth to respond to that challenge, by increasing their faith, by their loyalty to their Catholic Action Movement, and by having the courage to live Christ always. In proposing the toast of “The Hierarchy and Clergy,” at the subsequent Communion breakfast, Ted Long reminded leaders of what they owed to the Hierarchy and clergy, and asked them to have an even greater loyalty to their Archbishop and priests. – Fr. Lombard, in reply, thanked the Y.C.W. executive, the Extension Committee, Frank McCann, and all present for what they, had done for the Y.C.W. Frfmk Dunn extended a warm welcome to the following guests at the breakfast: Miss Eileen CDonoghue (N.C.G.M.), Miss Shirley Howard (Y.C.S.), Mr. Frank McCann (National Secretary, Y.C.W.), Messrs. F. Mur-

phy and T. Gannon (Extension Committee), Noel Merchant (Newcastle Y.C.W.), and Vin Mc-Kenna (English Y.C.W.), Miss Eileen O’Donoghue, Messrs. F. Murphy and F. McCann suitably responded. INSPIRING ‘EXAMPLE Vin. McKenna then addressed the leaders. He asked them if they were prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to build their movement. It was on the answer to that question that the future of the movement depended. Vin. held up to all leaders the example of Y.C.W. leaders in Belgium and in England. In Belgium, leaders had been shot dead because they had the faith and courage to live up to their obligations as leaders; in England, leaders had overcome a hundred and one practical war-time difficulties to keep their movement alive. They had succeeded, and with the coming

of peace, the fruits of their great sacrifices were beginning to bear. Continuing, Vin. praised the working conditions in Australia, and then warned the leaders to work to ensure that they were improved. There’s a danger that we would be satisfied with what we’ve got; that would enable bad influences in our midst to rob us of our high standards, and degrade the workers. In conclusion, Vin. appealed to the leaders to prove that they had the faith, courage and generosity to see their job through. Bad leaders, he warned, were like bad twigs on a tree—the tree was better if the bad twigs were cut off. Therefore, each leader must use prayer and the Sacraments to develop himself in the spirit of Christ. That Vin’s talk made a great impression on those present was evidenced by the spontaneous and prolonged applause that followed. Eddie Walsh moved a vote of thanks to Vin. McKenna for his excellent address and for the

time he had devoted to the Y.C.W. in Melbourne during his short leave. Vin. in Melbourne had proved himself a worthy international ambassador of the Y.C.W.

Portion of the procession in honour of the Blessed Sacrament through the grounds of St. Potrick’s Cathedral on Sunday last, during the Forty Hours devotion.


Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954), Wednesday 10 October 1945, page 5 (Trove)