This document was Jointly prepared by the following throe international movements : International Young Christian Workers, International Movement for Agricultural and Rural Catholic Youth, and the International Young Catholic Students, and thus it has a place in the increasing growth of a closer collaboration among them. These three movements meet regularly to discuss the common problems that arise in connection with their apostolic work among a large part of the youth that they deal with. They hope to see this international cooperation become intensified on a continental, national, and local basis. This common endeavor, on all of these levels, is becoming a living reality, of real benefit to society and to the Church.
This collaboration is furthered by the common approach these three movements have for apostolic action among the youth, as this document shows. Since the announcement of the Council, as described in various other documents, tho preparation of ideas concerning the apostolate has been noticeably intensified. It is not, therefore, necessary to repeat the principles already developed in these documents. We wish to develop here our common plan for action in the area confided to us by the Church: youth.
The apostolate among youth seems particularly important to us at this moment in human history. The transformation of the modern world, in society, politics and religion, poses for the young questions that are often deeply disturbing. The future of the world and of the Church depends upon the answers that this youth, which in certain continents is more than half of the population, will be able to find.
Our movements, which aim at helping these young people to discover the meaning of their vocation are not, however, the only ones concerned. The political and social organizations of many countries are showing an increasing interest in the matter. By mandating our movements the Church has recognized the responsibility that is the right of the young laity, and it has entrusted them with an apostolic mission.
We will explain in the following pages how our three movements understand their responsibility to this mission. Our plan is as follows:
-The first part gives a resume of the basic attitudes.
-The second part defines several propositions for the Fathers of the Council in the line of our projected work.
-In conclusion, each of these three groups outline several important events in its history, its organization, several of its achievements and future plans.
FIRST PART: THE MEANING OF THE APOSTOLATE OF OUR MOVEMENTS IN THE PRESENT DAY WORLD.
The three organizations dealt with in this document share the mission of organizing an apostolate among the youth, as commissioned by the Church in Catholic Action,
The presence of young laity in the world.
The youth live in the world of every day, involved with its realities, and they are therefore called upon to further temporal values. Their role as Christians is to assure the expansion of the Church, its contact with the world, its presence in the world.
This is their apostolic and missionary role, to bear witness to their faith, lived in all the realities of family life, professional life, leisure, studies, etc., among their brothers and sisters so as to help them recognize in faith Christ and the Church and to realize their own Christian vocation.
Organized as movements of Catholic Action, they wish to restore all things in Christ by infusing the supernatural into the heart of natural values and transform progressively the human groups into communities which will become cells of the Mystical Body of Christ. Thus they accept the responsibility of answering the invitation of the Church:
“The Church has not the right to enclose Itself within the solitude of its temples, thus deserting the mission entrusted to it by Divine Providence, that mission of forming the complete human being and thereby continually contributing to the establishment of a solid foundation in society. This mission is essential to the Church”. (Pie XII, 20, 2, 46).
On the same occasion the Sovereign Pontiff declared: “The faithful and more precisely the laity, are in the front lines of the life of the church; through them the Church la the vital principle of human society”.
We recognize that the Church possesses the power not only for guarding the tenets of the faith, but for restoring man in his integrity. The laity are truly conditioned in their supernatural development by the human context, by the existing state of natural values. With this background it is evident that Catholic Action is accomplishing a function of the Church and has an organic part in the Apostolate of the hierarchy. For its work is to contribute to society what is essential so that it takes form with the maximum integrity possible.
This involvement in human reality prepares the way for an eminent spiritual growth. In acting in society as it exists today, youth will discover the demands of grace and charity in their own lives beginning with problems as they arise before them. In consecrating worldly realities they consecrate themselves in all the dimensions of their lives to that God whose Kingdom they wish to extend.
The urgency of this apostolate in a new civilization
This apostolate takes on a special urgency in the present-day world. It is more necessary than ever and we believe that the apostolate of our movements is particularly providential for the Church. In the world today a new civilization is in progress. An increasing industrialization is modifying the social structure in a large number of countries. All young people are affected by the consequences.
In Europe, where the influences of this process are already profound, de-Christianization is invading the different stratas of the population, the great masses of workers, and the rural and farming community, but also the bourgeois milieu, from which came almost exclusively, in previous times, the students and intellectuals.
It is possible to say that the Church was not prepared to respond to this evolution and the delays it has undergone have been important. On the other hand however, it is precisely in Europe that the insight of Msgr. Cardijn has created a movement in the church, based on an awareness of the vocation of the laity. This movement has drawn to itself a great number of young apostles whose influence is quickly increasing.
It is not only among the workers that this impetus has taken hold. In the farming and rural community, in the bourgeois or middle classes, among students, other movements were begun impelled by the same inspiration, and giving youth a sense of responsibility. It is this awareness of the apostolate of laity that the Church has wished to actualize, according to the statements of the Sovereign Pontiff already cited.
In other continents we find two basic situations: a traditional catholicism already penetrated by an increasing loss of faith, as is the case in Latin America, or an advancing materialism that seriously cuts down the chances for Christianization.
That world —wide phenomenon, the population explosion, has considerably surpassed the existing pastoral structures. It is not a question of an unsufficient number of priests, nor of their distribution which is not organized according to need. But also the very dimensions of the pastoral have been inspired by a conservative spirit, rathor than by a desire to utilize the apostolic energies existing among the laity.
Living conditions also thoroughly affect the lives of men. As well as the masses of people concentrated in growing urban centers, there are abundant migrations within a single country as well as between countries. Modern mechanization has equally created new forms of leisure.
For many people these changes mean a break with the past, and for almost every individual there is a real danger of depersonalization. This situation in its totality constitutes a dehumanizing influence. For lack of a definite goal, a man often sees no value in his work, be it manual or intellectual. The only idea presented is material and personal well-being. It is here that Marxism offers a perspective full of promise. Attention is directed, especially in young countries undergoing development, towards an ideal of practical accomplishments, of radical reform.
An expose, well done but only theoretical, of the social doctrine of the Church does not stimulate a creative reaction among the faithful. They also expect a plan of action that recognize the actual situation of present-day society, and above all that of the very poor.
The Attempts to respond to this Situation by our Movements
The numerous inquiries made by our movements since their origin among youth on a worldwide basis, have demonstrated the often determining influence of the special conditions and individual characteristics of each sociological milieu on the human and religious behavior of the masses of young people. Beginning with this reality, our movements have always been “specialized” movements, that is to say, adapted to a sociological milieu calling the youth of this milieu to a life and an apostolic action, both personal and communal, at the heart of their own milieu.
Each of these different sociological milieus are found throughout the whole world with certain common characteristics. The evolution of the world today only accentuates these common aspects. Within each of these milieus, however, many aspects vary from continent to continent, even from country to country.
While studying together the individual characteristics of each of the different sociological milieus, the boundaries that separate them and the aspects that they have in common, our movements want to encourage cooperation, on the national as well as the international level, to specify and intensify their responsibility to the Church.
Our Hopes and Realizations
The still short history of our movements shows us the work in process by numerous groups, commited to knowing the problems of their milieu, and judging them from a Christian view point. They are ready to organise with their companions of this milieu a plan of action that will give the possibility of receiving and effectively transmitting Christian inspiration. It would be impossible to enumerate here the numerous initiatives, with appreciable results in the formation of Christian leaders, of nation-wide Inquiries, and yearly programs.
Above all, it is necessary to underline the effort that our movements have made to stimulate apostolic vocation, and for organising movements who had need of aid. Co-ordination on the international level within each of our movements has permitted the development of our sister movements in every continent, and has also contributed to a profitable exchange of experience. This organization on an international scale has also contributed to the formation of common ideas on the problems which exert an influence in the sectors of life essential to each milieu. These experiences have certainly helped the Church to become deeply aware of the problems in a world that waits its salvation from the Church. On the theological level they have enriched the understanding of the apostolate of the laity, which begs to be developed.
We wish to underline the fact that for the first time in the history of the Church the laity, organized in close rapport with the hierarchy, feels itself responsible for the Kingdom of God in the reality of their milieu. For the first time these movements present themselves together; as a totality they see their work based on the common desire to serve the Church by an active presence of the responsible laity striving to consecrate the world, through the Christianization of human society, which is their own. They are ready for an effective collaboration. They complement each other in the immense task of restoring all things in Christ. On every level, whether local, national, continental, or worldwide, they wish to coordinate their efforts, to be assured through an organized system of consultation. The members of these movements are convinced that this collaboration will be the most fruitful since it begins with a common conception of the apostolate. They wish to form their leaders in the milieu by action itself, reflected on in the light of the Gospels.
SECOND PART: PROPOSITIONS TO THE FATHERS OF THE COUNCIL
We wish to follow up and intensify our apostolic work in each of the milieux entrusted to us, as well as in common. This is why we humbly ask for encouragement from our Pastors. This support can be shown In several ways. Concerning the Council we would like to submit the following propositions:
1. That the preparation of youth for its apostolic role in the mission of the Church, and, In particular, In Catholic Action, implies formation beginning with the real problems posed in daily life, such that it allows the young to contribute in the way that is their own as laity to the consecration of the world.
2. The best means of preparing responsible adults is through the taking of responsibilities in apostolic youth movement a by youth.
3. The most important and effective apostolate is performed in the daily environment of each person and thus specialization for the different sociological milieux is necessary. Already specialized movements for the working, rural, and student worlds exist on an international level. We would like to see the development on the international level of a specialized movement for the middle classes.
4. The role of adults in the apostolic youth movements, priests, religious assistants, or others, is to encourage, enliven, and aid, but not to direct.
5. On the other hand, an appeal should be made to priests in every country to lend their sacerdotal aid to young laity who commit themselves as apostles in their milieu.
6. This call should be met by those priests who have had a formation in the “specialized” movements, grounded in experiences at the local level, and therefore, becoming apt to exercise their role in the youth-movements.
7. A “joint-pastoral” (“pastorale d’ensemble”) prepared by all concerned, is necessary to reach a solution to the problems of young people.
8. From this perspective the necessity of children’s movements is foreseen to prepare young people to continue their action as adolescents and young adults in apostolic movements according to their milieu.
9. It can be added that adult movements allow young people to continue their action later as well.
10. It is necessary to create in the organization of the Church the means for studying the questions of the lay apostolate and of Catholic Action in the world, at the same time supporting the experiences and the regular cooperation that the existing movements could bring to it, not only on the judicial level, but from the vital and dynamic aspect of the promotion of an authentic laity, which incarnates the message of the Gospels in the realities of today’s world.
SOME BRIEF INFORMATION ON EACH OF THE MOVEMENTS
We hope that the following outlines on each of the three movements who have authored the preceding text will help you to situate their work, and bring you into a dialogue with them on their ultimate objectives, their realizations, and their concrete possibilities for the future.
It is not possible, however, to answer all the possible questions that might arise at this time. As a result, we believed it preferable to give only the most essential information in these presentations.