MESSAGE OF CARDINAL ANGELO SODANO
El Escorial (Madrid), 10-26 October 2000
I am pleased to convey the cordial greetings of His Holiness Pope John Paul II
to all the Young Christian Workers who, as the representatives of the
International Coordinating Committee of Y.C.W. in the different countries and
continents, are assembled at El Escorial (Madrid) for the Fifth International
Council of the organization.
follow the great Y.C.W. tradition, rooted in the apostolic vision of Father
Joseph Cardijn, whose goal was to help young workers to be witnesses to
Christian hope in their workplaces. In
the first decades of the twentieth century, this zealous Belgian priest showed
a clear understanding of the situation of young workers, who were not only
subjected to deplorable conditions in factories, but also exposed to powerful
influences which made them feel alienated from the life of the Church.
He was particularly moved by a missionary concern the future of the
young workers for whom he founded Jeunesse Ouvrière Chrétienne.
So quickly did this specialized movement of Catholic Action spread,
from its beginnings in France and Belgium, that it became a vibrant movement
involving young workers from very different countries, a crucible of Christian
activists in the world of labour and a source of enrichment for the mission of
the Church in urban and industrialized areas.
In its growth Y.C.W. enjoyed the unfailing support and encouragement of
the Holy See. Father Joseph Cardijn was appointed an expert at the Second
Vatican Council by the recently beatified Pope John XXIII, and later, in 1964,
he was created a Cardinal by Pope Paul VI.
Today this Y.C.W. tradition continues to be very much alive, thanks also to
the International Coordinating Committee of Young Christian Workers.
After the far-reaching crisis of the 1970s, the Committee has provided
young workers throughout the world with a movement faithful to the vision of
its founder and to the Church. In
this regard, the Holy Father wishes also to express his appreciation to the
ecclesiastical assistants for their valuable help in bringing about the
essential goal of the organization: to
make young workers apostles and evangelizers of other young people. It is also a source of satisfaction that since 1986, the year
in which the Holy See recognized the International Coordinating Committee,
there has been an increasing confidence in the Committee, which through its
work of formation, helps young workers to recognize and accept their
responsibilities as citizens and Christians, both in the workplace and in the
life of the Church.
The International Coordinating Committee is presently faced with a formidable
challenge. Great numbers of young
people, caught up in the accelerated and complex changes taking place in the
varied sectors of the world of labour, are in need of a renewed presentation
of the Christian message. Often it is young people with little schooling or
professional training who are most affected by tragic situations of
joblessness and marginalization, who are unable to find steady employment and
even, at times, are the victims of unjust exploitation.
Young people often feel unwelcome and unassisted by traditional union
organizations. Trapped in
decaying urban areas, they are tempted to violence and involvement in crime.
Despite the dechristianized environments from which they come, these
young people are still looking for meaning in life and are yearning for truth
and happiness, for justice and dignity. This
is why they have such need of the witness and friendship of those who can set
before them an attractive ideal capable of inspiring them to take their place
responsibly in society. For this
reason the Holy Father strongly encourages them to promote the development of
Y.C.W. groups, in order to provide for the formation of young workers at every
level, a formation which will help them to encounter Christ as the primary and
superabundant response to all their yearnings.
In this way each young person will be able to act as a true militant in
the workplace, as a lay person fully committed to the cause of the Gospel.
The Holy Father is confident that this International Council, meeting in the
year of the Great Jubilee, will be an auspicious occasion for the
International Coordinating Committee of Y.C.W. to renew its fundamental
commitments and goals. He
therefore hopes that all the affiliated movements and their members will put
their trust in God so that they may obtain the grace of conversion and thus be
open to a newness of life motivated by charity, the wellspring of authentic
solidarity. May the Lord be for
all Y.C.W. members the Holy Door through which their pilgrim steps will
advance in the way of peace. An
encounter with Jesus Christ will help them to experience fully the communion
of his Church, through the hearing of the Word of life and through the saving
work of the Sacraments. Such
fidelity and devotion to the Church on the part of the International
Coordinating Committee will always prove to be a firm foundation and, at the
same time, a constant inspiration to bear witness to young workers everywhere,
especially in the many situations which still cry out for this renewal and for
the spread of that Y.C.W. experience which the International Coordinating
Committee is called to promote.
His Holiness prays that the deliberations of this Fifth International Council
will help all taking part to labour tirelessly on behalf of young workers, for
the good of society as a whole. With
this lively hope, he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing.
I take this occasion to express to you my own good wishes and esteem in Christ.
the Vatican, 2 October 2000
Cardinal Angelo Sodano