Camara’s letter to Cardijn

Rome, 17 September1965

Dear Mgr. Cardijn,

May I make a suggestion to you.

It is very important to ensure that the Council reaches workers and to bring workers closer to our brothers, the bishops.

Let us imagine the following:

– One Sunday in October or November (when there is not other canonisation or beatification ceremony)

– In your Cardinal’s parish church here in Rome,

– A concelebrated Mass with about 20 bishops gathered around the Workers’ cardinal,

– Specially devoted to Workers (and there would be adequate publicity in Rome and we will also host representatives from neighbouring countries, particularly France and Belgium),

– A concelebrated Mass in the presence of the largest possible number of Council Fathers and in which the concelebrants would take an oath prepared by yourself similar to the vow that you took at the deathbed of your father…

– A very concrete vow appropriate to the present time and appropriate to the understanding of workers…

After the Mass, there would be a fraternal meeting between workers and bishops.

If the idea seems worthwhile to you, we would need your blessing.

As far as everything else goes, your friends are here and ready to act.

Filially yours in Jesus Christ

+Helder Camara

D 28

Domus Mariae

Via Aurelia, 481

Domus Mariae

Via Aurelia, 481


AGR, Archives Cardijn, N° 1625

Helder Camara – Cardijn 17 09 1965 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Reactions to the proposal by Dom Helder Camara (Recorded by Marguerite Fiévez)

N.B. These undoubtedly come from:

— either Jacques Meert

— Fr Uylenbroeck

— or Marguerite Fiévez

— or all three.

1. No initiative or detail of the implementation should come from you.

2. It would perhaps be better if the initiative were taken by the “Church of the Poor” group, of which Bishop Himmer and Bishop Ancel are the presidents.

3. Even so, attention should be paid so that it cannot be said that we are classifying the bishops as bishops for the poor and bishops for the rich – a bishop is for everyone.

4. I find the idea of a vow a bit strong. Couldn’t another means of expressing this be found?

5. No question of doing this in the Pietralata Church. But with the help of the parish priest we could find another place (in the open air?) for a concelebration around 4pm, for example.

6. Proposed date: Around 17 October – the president and the chaplain-general of the JOC will be there.