The V2+40 Project

Vatican 2 plus 40 Project


The V2+40 project was originally conceived and developed by CLC within the framework of a proposed 3 year program to mark the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council which was held from 1962-65.

Reproduced below is the original V2+40 Concept Paper.

Vatican II and the Lay Apostolate Movements

Draft Proposal for a 3 Year Study Program: 2002-2005

1. Background

1.1 The Lay Movements at Vatican II

11 October 2002 will mark the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, a council which was to revolutionise the outlook of the Church.

The first and possibly only time that the lay movements comprising the Group of Eight (G8) lay movements collaborated effectively on a precise project over a significant period of time was during Vatican II as they strove to influence the various drafts of the conciliar documents.

It has often been said that that the movements had significant or even great influence at the Council and even that V2 “canonised” the lay apostolate approach of the various movements. Contrary to this perception, research shows that in fact the movements had great difficulty to make their voices heard and that by the end of the Council many of their representatives (notably Pat Keegan, former IYCW and WMCW) were privately extremely frustrated and even pessimistic with the conciliar outcomes (although their public statements were usually full of praise for the Council).

Moreover, some of the contributions to Vatican 2 made by on or on behalf of the movements were never acted upon either by the movements and/or the Church. A classic example is the personal prelature (PO 10) which was actually proposed by a group of cardinals and bishops close to the movements as a potential structure for facilitating the organisation of Catholic Action. However, the movements never acted upon this possibility which was later taken up by Opus Dei.

Another example is the organisation which has become the Pontifical Council for the Laity which was originally conceived in AA26 as a special secretariat for promoting the lay apostolate in which the lay movements would be represented. Yet this proposal has never been implemented, with the PCL in its present form having no representation of the movements at all and each member/consultor nominated by the Holy See in consultation not with the movements but with the bishops – effectively a complete distortion of the intention of Vatican 2.

1.2 Forty Years After Vatican II: The Decline of the Movements

Since Vatican 2, virtually all of the G8 movements have also declined in membership and influence. Although a number of “new movements” have emerged, to date none seem to have shown the capacity of the traditional G8 movements to mobilise and form lay people conscious and responsible for their mission in transforming the modern world. In this sense, and paradoxically, Vatican 2 marked the “end of an era” rather than a new beginning.

And indeed a historical study confirms that the era of the G8 lay movements emerged from a lay apostolate tradition with roots in the 19th century and which developed in response to the democratic and industrial revolutions which gave birth to the modern world.

This tradition can be traced through 3 broad generations:

a) The 1848 generation, including Lamennais, Ozanam, Lacordaire, etc. in France, O’Connell in Ireland, the Polish democrats and independence fighters, Catholics who identified themselves with the struggle for democracy – “la démocracie, c’est l’évangile même” – “democracy, the gospel itself” – and with the “people” as well as with the emerging “working class”;

b) The Sillon generation of the late 19th and early 20th century, named for Marc Sangnier’s Sillon (Furrow) movement, grounded in the “new (non-scholastic) philosophy” of Alphonse Gratry and Léon Ollé-Laprune (a “second Ozanam”), and which pioneered the use of the “enquiry” method as a means of popular education through the systematic promotion of “cercles d’étude” or “study circles” among students and young workers;

c) The Specialised Catholic Action generation identified above all with Cardijn and the G8 movements, whose common denominator can be found in the “see, judge, act” methodology and spirituality, and which drew to a close at around the time of Vatican 2 (Cardijn himself died in 1967).

Each of these generations struggled to find its place in the world and especially in the Church. Lamennais was excommunicated, even Ozanam found himself marginalised at the end of his short life. The Sillon was closed down following Pope Pius X’s letter to the French bishops on 25 August 1910. Cardijn’s embryonic JOC (YCW) was saved from condemnation by Cardinal Mercier only by the personal intervention of Pope Pius XI.

Despite all these difficulties, the tradition survived until Vatican II where Gaudium et Spes (The Church in the Modern World) seemed, finally, to offer the Church’s definitive imprimatur to the work of the lay movements.

How then did it happen that this powerful tradition of a modern lay apostolate should fall into decline precisely following what appeared to have been its greatest triumph?

1.3 Tracing New Furrows, Planting New Seeds: Back to the Sources

More importantly, what is the relevance and future of these lay movements at the dawn of the third millennium?

Will they simply continue on as somewhat marginal groups existing on the periphery of the Church, yet without much impact in either the Church or the world?

Have they played their historic role so successfully that the Church has absorbed their message into its own message and methodology? Have they now outlived their own usefulness? Are other newer movements now destined to take their place?

Alternatively, is there a need for a new beginning in a tradition which seeks “to always begin again (Cardijn), to “laissez faire avec la vie” (Sillon)? Are there signs already of a new beginning?

These are some of the questions that require answers at the moment.

The forthcoming 40th anniversary of Vatican II provides a great opportunity to take up some of these questions in a systematic way. Just as the Council itself lasted for 3 years from 1962-65, it seems appropriate to propose a study program from 2002-05 which would seek to investigate some of the answers.

Fittingly, the year 2002 also marks the centenary of the First National Congress of Study Groups in France organised by the Sillon on 23 February 1902. These were the groups which pioneered the method of enquiry as a means of popular education, a method later perfected and popularised by Cardijn and the G8 movements under the name See-Judge-Act, Enquiry method, Review of Life, etc. as the basic methodology of lay apostolic formation.

The year 2002 is therefore a particularly timely moment to launch a broad, far reaching international study of the role the lay movements in the 21st century, a study which could perhaps provide the foundations for the emergence of a 4th generation of lay movements of the 1848-Sillon-Cardijn tradition.

2. Target Group/Stakeholders

2.1 The G8 (specialised lay apostolate) movements: leaders, members, networks;

2.2 The broader group of ICOs who identify with this concept of lay apostolate;

2.3 Emerging groups around the world who are seeking direction.

3. Objectives

3.1 Evaluate the historical contribution of the lay apostolate movements of the 1848-Sillon-Cardijn tradition (notably the G8 movements) in mobilising and forming lay people for their mission in the world in various fields of endeavour;

· Political action in favour of democracy;
· Economic action in the trade unions, cooperatives, etc;
· Social action in support of family and community life;
· Cultural action;
· Spiritual action.

3.2 Revive and renew the tradition of social study circles (“cercles d’étude”) which provided the foundation for the lay apostolate for over a century;

3.3 Identify the challenges for the lay apostolate in the 21st century, especially in the context of other religions (Buddhism, Islam, etc.), the clash of modern and traditional cultures, the continued emergence of the “modern world” (Asia, Africa);

3.4 Study the Vatican II documents concerning the lay apostolate with a view to promoting their implementation in the world and the Church;

3.5 Provide an intellectual foundation for the emergence of lay movements adapted to the needs of the 21st century;

3.6 Build up a network of people around the world committed to sustaining and developing this work over the long term;

3.7 Launch a long-term cooperative fundraising initiative to support this work based on the CCFD France “meta-movement” model, i.e. a collective of movements.

4. Means

4.1 Launch of an International Study Group to develop and oversee the project;

4.2 Worldwide program of studies, workshops, seminars in various disciplines (philosophy, theology, sociology, history) into the role of the G8 lay movements in the 21st century;

4.3 Publish documents and resources …

4.4 Establish the first of a projected series of regional resource and training centres in various strategic locations around the world which would fulfil the objectives of the “special secretariat (at the Holy See) for the service and promotion of the lay apostolate” proposed at Vatican II (AA26), with the first centre to be located in Asia (Bangkok?).

Presbyterorum Ordinis 10: To accomplish this purpose there should be set up international seminaries, special personal dioceses or prelatures (vicariates), and so forth, by means of which, according to their particular statutes and always saving the right of bishops, priests may be trained and incardinated for the good of the whole Church.

Apostolicam Actuositatem 26: “A special secretariat, moreover, should be established at the Holy See for the service and promotion of the lay apostolate. It can serve as a well-equipped center for communicating information about the various apostolic programs of the laity, promoting research into modern problems arising in this field, and assisting the hierarchy and laity in their apostolic works with its advice. The various movements and projects of the apostolate of the laity throughout the world should also be represented in this secretariat, and here clergy and Religious also are to cooperate with the laity.” In fact, the Latin states that the movements should “have a part” (partes habeant).