Conscious and responsible in Cardijn

As the series of documents cited here will show, Cardijn often used phrases built around the words "conscious" and "responsible".

Beginning with his speech of welcome to Marc Sangnier in 1921, he continues to use it in major speeches from then on.

Not only is it a phrase that carries a lot of meaning for Cardijn, but I believe he also used it as a signal to others who were familiar with the term.

In effect, all those who had lived and identified the experience of the Sillon, in France most of all, but also in other francophone countries, knew exactly what the term meant.

Just as we identify the term "see judge act" with Cardijn today, so too did the generation prior to 1945 identify the words "conscious and responsible" with the Sillon.

It is also relevant to note how Cardijn uses the "conscious and responsible" couple in his speeches at Vatican II - in three 8 minute, 2 page speeches - he manages to use the term five times. Why does he make such a point of it?

I believe that the answer lies partly in the fact that the Vatican II documents nowhere make use of the term "democracy" or its derivatives. Just as there was a policy discussion not to explicitly mention the word "communism" in the Council documents, it seems that there must have been a similar decision not to use the word "democracy".

Using the term "conscious and responsible" which corresponds to the Sillon definition of democracy is thus an indirect but clear reference to democracy (for those who have ears to hear, etc!).

More importantly, it is also a reference to a conception of "democratic man" or the "democratic person" - not limited to the political sphere of elections but that concerns every aspect of life - and even the Church.