A program of Christian democracy

This is the Christian Democratic program presented by Fr Cardijn to the readers of the new daily, Le Démocrate,” wrote Marc Walckiers in his 1981 doctoral thesis on Young Cardijn.

He was referring to the following article published in 1919 just after end of World War I.

In it, Cardijn sets out its aims under three points — doctrine, organisation and program.

We have just finished reading the first edition of Le Démocrate (The Democrat). Every friend of Christian democracy will rejoice that we have our own newspaper at last. In it, we loyally and passionately defend our doctrine, our organisation and our program.

OUR DOCTRINE is based on the notion that democracy is fundamentally a question of education and organisation. As long as the great principles of justice, fraternity, responsibility, competence, discipline and authority fail to penetrate our customs and morals, and fail to inspire our institutions and the exercise of power, democracy will exist only in name.

Auction-style acrobatics will lead to a battle of wills. General well-being needs to take priority over individual interest. Free and cordial cooperation must become the basis of all activity.

Only in this way will we manage to avoid demagogic decline and succeed in promoting “social uplifting.”

For us as Christians, truth is found in the Gospel and the doctrine of the Church. This means making it known and adapting it in increasingly concrete terms to the current economic and social conditions that we aim to achieve.

Our trade union, economic, social and educational ORGANISATIONS are like the apple of our eye.

The Right of Association is the best antidote to statism, bureaucracy, incompetency and political exclusivity. Any kind of attack on the right of association, whether practised by violence or through legal means, amounts to a betrayal of democracy.

Trade union freedom, freedom of opinion, conscience and teaching are the only guarantees of a healthy and life-giving public atmosphere. Without this, we will languish in oppression and slavery.

OUR PROGRAM. In our ruined country, the first thing we are aiming for is “reconstruction.” In line with this, we are prepared to make every possible concession to promote collaboration and unity among all patriots.

Tolerance and confidence are democratic virtues. To intensify reconstruction, it will be necessary for the working masses to become more directly involved in production.

While working for the transformation of our economic and political regime, we urgently desire to correct employee abuse by gaining recognition for the vital rights of employees, including minimum salary, maximum working hours and freedom of association.

The housing issue is as urgent as the need for a labour contract.”


Joseph Cardijn, For Christian workers – Le Démocrate (www.josephcardijn.com)

Joseph Wresinski on the events of May 1968

Fr Joseph Wresinski was a former French JOC lay leader who became a priest and later founded a movement now called ATD Quart Monde which aims to reach out to the people of “the third world who live in the first world,” hence, the name “Fourth World.”

The student and worker demonstrations of Paris in May 1968 caused him to reflect deeply.

“In 1968, I saw all these young people full of intelligence, with considerable possibilities, and I said to myself:” They are losing their time to make discussions whereas in the poor districts, there are millions of ‘children who can not even read and write’,” he later wrote.

“It was then that I thought of (the concept of) ‘ street knowledge’ by saying that students must come to teach the thing that they know, the things they have already learned, and share it with those who unfortunately will never have the opportunity to go to university.

“So I went to the bars, talked with them and managed to win over a few who came to join us.

“What I was looking for was for ‘the person who knows how to learn, to teach those who do not know how to learn’.”

“Knowledge should not be a privilege for a few, it must be a gift to everyone and for everyone,” he explained.

“If the students had put their demonstration at the service of the poor and if they had gone to all the cities of the Parisian region to create libraries in the street, then I think that all the working people, working people who live poorly would have agreed with them… because they would have discovered that there is no gap between the university and the world of the poor and the miserable and that it is the same humanity fighting for the same cause, namely freedom and respect for each other. ”


Les événements de 68 vus par Joseph Wresinski (ATD Quart Monde)

Acts – The Days of Pentecost

[Acts of the Apostles 2]
{2:1} And when the days of Pentecost were completed, they were all together in the same place.
{2:2} And suddenly, there came a sound from heaven, like that of a wind approaching violently, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
{2:3} And there appeared to them separate tongues, as if of fire, which settled upon each one of them.
{2:4} And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And they began to speak in various languages, just as the Holy Spirit bestowed eloquence to them.
{2:5} Now there were Jews staying in Jerusalem, pious men from every nation that is under heaven.
{2:6} And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together and was confused in mind, because each one was listening to them speaking in his own language.
{2:7} Then all were astonished, and they wondered, saying: “Behold, are not all of these who are speaking Galileans?
{2:8} And how is it that we have each heard them in our own language, into which we were born?
{2:9} Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and those who inhabit Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
{2:10} Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya which are around Cyrene, and new arrivals of the Romans,
{2:11} likewise Jews and new converts, Cretans and Arabs: we have heard them speaking in our own languages the mighty deeds of God.”
{2:12} And they were all astonished, and they wondered, saying to one another: “But what does this mean?”


Acts of the Apostles 2;1-12 (Sacred Bible)


Maestà, Altarretabel des Sieneser Doms, Rückseite, Altarbekrönung mit Pfingstzyklus, Szene: Pfingsten (Wikipedia)

Review questions

How do you explain “the sound of wind approaching violently”?

What were the “tongues of fire”?

How could the apostles suddenly be understood in different languages?

Indeed, what do you think this all means?