No pomp and privilege for Cardijn

St Michael Archangel Church at Pietralata, Rome: Cardijn’s titular church as cardinal

Here’s a great little Cardijn anecdote told by Francois Houtart of how Cardijn had a visceral reaction to pomp and circumstance.

“Just before the war (World War II),” Houtart writes, “Monsignor Cardijn was hosted by a Yugoslav bishop and the experience horrified him. Throughout the meal, a lackey stood behind each guest… as if it was the court of a Renaissance prince.”

And here’s the original French text:

“Juste avant la guerre, Mgr Cardijn avait été recu par une évêque yougoslave et l’expérience l’avait horrifié: durant tout le repas un laquais se tenait derrière chaque convive… comme à la cour d’un prince de la Renaissance.”

(Source: François Houtart, L’éclatement d’une église, Mamé, Paris, 1969 at p.42; English edition: Francois Houtart, The eleventh hour explosion of a church, Sheed and Ward, 1968.)

In fact, there are many similar anecdotes of how prestige and privilege shocked and disgusted Cardijn, particularly among the leadership of the Church.

But after he became a cardinal himself, Cardijn found that everyone in Rome also bowed to him, as he told Yves Congar:

“It’s disgusting, it’s unworthy. I would never have believed it,” Cardijn said. (Source: Yves Congar, Mon Journal du Concile, T. II, Cerf, 2002, at p. 382).

And Cardijn showed what he believed by choosing as his “titular” cardinal’s church the parish of St Michael Archangel in a working class area of Rome:


Marten253 at it.wikipedia