By Canon E. Arbuthnott, National Chaplain, Y.C.W.
eARDINAL SLIENFNS. Primate of Belgium, is travelling from Rome to Brii,els this Sunday to lead 2.000 celebrities and 10,000 young workers in an 80th birthday tribute to Mgr. Joseph Cardijn, founder of the Y.pung Christian Workers.
At a mass gathering in the Brussels Palais de Sports. the Cardinal will join in honouring the man who at his father's deathbed vowed to give his life for his own working class.
Nine universities have honoured Mgr. Cardijn with honorary degrees and five countries have awarded him civic decorations. but to England alone belongs the distinction of having written his biography (The Cardijn Story, by Michael de la Bedoyere).
"Education begins when the young worker leaves school," this is a characteristic paradox which Mgr. Cardijn hurled at traditional conceptions. It is also the period at which in anguish' he saw youth abandoned by society and corrupted by factory life.
"Would you let your daughters work in your own mills?" he cried out in 1915 to a meeting of textile employers. when Belgium had scarcely emerged from the horrors of overworked and underpaid child labour. And yet in 1962 the problem of teenage workers is still with us,
Then it presented a scandal of injustice and cruelty, now it presents to the unprepared young entrant school-leaver the scandals of sex adventure, dishonesty and irreligion.
Mgr. Cardijn, from the beginning of his campaign in 1912, insists that although the priest has to search, to suffer, and to fail, he will. if he has faith in youth, finally succeed. "The nucleus of five or six typical working girls and boys are there to be built into apostolic teams. This, he says. is what the priest must believe.
The curriculum of the Y.C.W.? -Work, wages. sport. dancing, love, holidays, home, marriageall the stuff of which youthful life Is composed, The instructor'?the boys and girls themselves.
Who will show them a lead? Says Mgr. Cardijn: "the young worker the agent of his own education and solution. The priest becomes the adviser, counsellor. chaplain, animator never the boss."
Today three million young men and women are proud in their attachment to the Y.C.W. They are not all powerful characters. blameless Christians Of leaders. They owe this loyalty to the in fluence of tens of thousands of cells of girls and young men who are leaders immersed in the masses stirring them to action.
Mgr. Cardijn has travelled the world leaving a stable movement in a host of countries. For years his ideas have been recognised by UNESCO, by T.L.O., and the World Assembly of Youth. Pope John in Mater et Magistra described its "See. Judge, Act" formula as an indispensable tool for reducing social principles to practice.