Born in Brussels, Belgium on 13 November 1882 at the height of the Industrial Revolution, Joseph Cardijn dedicated his life to young workers at the age of 20. Imprisoned in occupied Belgium during both World Wars, he founded the International Young Christian Workers (IYCW) movement. Other movements based on a similar model soon followed, including movements for students (YCS), young farmers (MIJARC), adult workers (CWM) and families (CFM).
Cardijn's famous SEE - JUDGE - ACT methodology as a tool of review, evaluation and analysis became famous within the Church structures and other international organizations. By his methodology and reflections, Cardijn stimulated theological reflections bearing lasting influence.
His most famous quote, "We are always at the beginning", which he even uttered at his deathbed meant that the commitment of the laity is for life and therefore continuous. This was the spirituality of Cardijn.
Pope Pius XI who approved Cardijn's plan for an autonomous lay movement among young workers exclaimed, "Here at last is someone who speaks to about the masses."
Once in conversation, Cardijn suggested to Pope John XXIII, "It would be good if Your Holiness would prepare a new encyclical on labour." "Write down your ideas", the Pope responded, "regarding the future development of the working classes." The notes that Cardijn submitted formed the basis of Pope John's encyclical Mater et Magistra. Pope John also tapped Cardijn's talents and experience for the Second Vatican Council. Two major documents, the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World and Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, owe much to Cardijn's insights. At the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Cardijn called for the Church to make world development a priority.
On the abuse of science and technology, his prophetic pronouncements proves to be true today when the world is alarmed on global warming and the impending catastrophe awaiting humanity. In a speech made in October 1951, Cardijn said
"...And perhaps for the first time in history all humanity, including men of the greatest knowledge and vision, realizes in fear trembling the power of death and destruction to which the abuse of science and omnipotent technology can give birth, if humanity loses the sense of God, of faith, of eternity..."
CCI prays that the Church will recognize the great contribution of Cardinal Joseph Cardijn and honor him as 'Doctor of the Church.'