1964: Education in dialogue

This article forms part of Cardijn’s Reflections on Dialogue prepared for Pope Paul VI in the preparation of his first encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam.

It is extremely important to develop dialogue with youth, among young people and concerning the problems of young people. Youth is a third of humanity and more than half of these young people are at work. How do they see life and how do they want to live? This is ultimately the essential question that they are facing at the most decisive age, at the time that they acquire a conception, a style and a mystique of life.

This problem, which is among the most serious that they will need to face, can only be resolved by an increasingly open dialogue in favour of the development of young people as well as in favour of the progress of the world.

By himself, every man – and above all as an adolescent, very young – is more attracted by that which touches the senses: feelings, action, fun, games… Yes, dialogue should perhaps begin with games, friendship, travel or walks. However, from there, the adolescent will raise himself little by little to the discovery of the highest values, right up to the only essential value. Far from removing interlocutors from ordinary life, dialogue will help people to discover this unique essential value in the image that daily values present to him.

Ultimately, this is what the YCW has attempted to do. The whole jocist movement – its method, its action, the formation that it gives, its extension and its international unity – are all based on dialogue.

It starts from the most elementary and the most concrete form of dialogue which takes place around the circumstances of the life of the young worker – at work, in the family, at leisure – to lead him little by little towards the deepest internal dialogue which must reveal to him the value of his life, his vocation and his divine destiny, the wealth of the graces acting in him. Its essential method: “see – judge – act” is itself an education in dialogue!

However, this personal dialogue passes through the way of collective dialogue in all its forms:

– Dialogue with and among young workers

– Dialogue among activists, leaders, and with the mass

– Dialogue at the heart of life, in the milieux of life and for the problems of life

– Dialogue between young workers and clergy, chaplains, the Hierarchy and the whole ecclesial community

– Dialogue that seeks to unite the whole parish in the whole of life and in the milieux of life

– Dialogue with the worker organisations and other Catholic Action organisations

– Dialogue among all the institutions, with the authorities, with public opinion and its means of expression…

Dialogue in the YCW remains imperfect and supposes that one continually seeks to update beginning with the realities of life and education. However, the fact is that this dialogue produced tangible fruit, although difficult to evaluate, that would never have been achieved through monologue or by teaching from on high received in passivity.

The YCW is a proof that dialogue in freedom and interest for the other always pays off. It pays a hundredfold.


Joseph Cardijn, Reflections on dialogue, 1964 (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)