1967 Mexican model

After the Second Vatican Council ended on 8 December 1965, attention turned to the implementation of its decisions, including the establishing of a Vatican laity body as foreshadowed in Apostolicam Actuositatem §26 and a justice body foreshadowed in Gaudium et Spes §90.

In this document, which appears to date from 1966, a leader of the Mexican JOC presents proposals for the structuring of the two planned bodies.

Presented by the President

Mexico EC. 1967






The work of reflexion to which was invited the catholic world to study the creation of an organism for laity, awoke within the conference of CIO a very important interest. To give an answer to the inquiry launched by the secretariate of state, in spring 1965, the conference of CIO held an extraordinary session in Sion, in Switzerland. It is not exaggerated to say that during that session the conference took more fully conscience of its proper mission and of its originality. On the very point which was the object of the debate, the CIO arrived to the assembly of Sion with points of view often contradictory, and came during those two days of work, to an elaboration of a unic and coherent of the questions set; the conference thus had accomplished its function helping the progress of a general outlook of the problems set by the futur roman organism concerning the individual expression of the CIO.


For the CIO, the principal aims of that organism, would be to facilitate the participation of the laity to the life and the total mission of the Church. The point of view of no. 26 of the decree on the apostolate of the laity, would be thus overpassed to come to a truly creation of a “Concilium de laicis”.

The organism would be a part of all the institutions created by the Holy See after the Council for the universal Church. Before taking care of those new problems, it would be desirable for that organism to have a new nature and an original style.


a) Help and stimulate the participation of the laity to the life of the Church by its informations and its technical services.

b) To undertake studies and researches, taking into account each time it will be possible, all what is going in the different institutions, organisations and countries; in that sens, it will have the caracteristic of a “clearing house”.

c) To receive, to evaluate the preoccupations of the laities in the different areas of their activity and in the different countries of the world: the new organism would be thus the means of exchanges and of dialogue in the sense in which Pope Paul spoke of “family dialogue”.

d) To contribute to the fact that the central organisms of the Church open progressively to active collaboration of the laity; it would be its function to entertain relations of work with other levels of the Roman Curia.

Limitations of competences:

The new organism will not have to exercise by itself an authority. The Holy See having other means to achieve that which concerns the participation of the laity in the life of the Church.

The problems on international level (Catholic present to the organised world life, public or private) will not be of the resort and of the attributions of that new organism. The action of the Church on an international level led at the level of the Holy See or at other levels, eg. the level of the International Catholic organisations, requires other competences and other places of reflection than those destined to assure the participation of the laity in the life of the Church.


According to number 26 of the Conciliar decree, bishops, priests with special competence, and lay persons should form this Council, the number of the laity being as important as the number of ecclesiastics.

The lay members should be nominated as follows: one part by the conference of international catholic organisitions, another part from representatives of different movements of the laity organised on a national level, with the provision for an equal distribution according to continents, languages and kinds of apostolic movements; a third part, a minority, of eminent catholic personalities chosen according to their personal competence. The members from these two latter categories should be chosen from lists presented by national Councils of the lay apostolate mentioned in paragraph two of number 26 of the Counciliar Decree.

The president of this organisation should be a cardinal; it is advisible that there be an ecclesiastical vice-president and a lay vice-president together with a lay person who should be the secretary general.


Taking into account the particular domain of the CIO and the conference at which they meet, they should preserve their specific role and their autonomy, while at the same time working in close collaboration with the new organisation. Conscious of its responsabilities, the Conference undertook since two yeats ago an effort to improve its methodes of work which brought about an elaboration of a five year plan which was approved unanimasly by the general assembly in London, in july 1966. Besides the nomination of some members for this Council of the laity the Conference should cooperate with the Council. This cooperation can be exercised on the following points:-

1) The national branches of the CIO can contribute to the Creation of national Councils as mentioned above;

2) Contribute their experience concerning international affairs in the broad sense of the word; that means not only those things that pertain to official international organisations, but also other problems of international affairs.

3) The Centers of the Conference in Paris and in Geneva and those which it will create in future will offer an important contribution in this domain;

4) In countries where the christians are a minority, the Conference has a particular role to play in the building up of a laity conscious of its responsabilities as required by the encyclical “Princeps pastorum”.

5) In all matters concerning their action on the international level, the Conference and the CIO should maintain direct contacts with the Secreteriate of State of His Holiness.

At the same time, the Conference and the CIO is always ready to reform its structures and to revise its method of work after the constitution of the new organisation and as and when such revision is necessary.


Your commission has asked us how in the light of experience of the conference we view the organisation and role of this structure and what may be the consequences for the conference of the creation of such a structure.

The above mentioned structures were not the purpose of a big discussion within the CIO as was the case for the Council of the laity. There are two possibilities:

A° Creation of a structure of the universal Church which would have its own personnality, and autonomy within the Church and power to make decision, that is to say a structure which would not only have a “staff function” ( to think about and to clarify problems), but also a “line function” (to give directives an orientations).

We believe that this proposal would not be opportune for the following reasons:

1) It could give to those outside the Church the impression that it is only now that the Church is discovering the problem of helping needy people, which is obviously not true when we look at the missionary work, the role of the Vatican and the work done by international catholic organisation in the passed.

2) There is also the danger that a new structure would think that it is the only one which is competent, and that would lead to the creation of a kind of departement for schema XIII in the Church. It seems to us that an orientation like this would go beyond the wishes of the Council which wanted to mobilise the all Church in the struggle against underdevelopement and the injustice on an international level.

3) Such a formula can easily lead to different orientations for christians, particularly if that structure had a authority” line function that the general policy of the Church on the international level must remain as the field of the secretariate of State. Obviously, the new structure must compete with the secretariate of State in many areas of international policy. There is the same problem for the Congregation of the Faith, and in another field for the Conference of the CIO.

B) We would prefer therefore a second proposal.

1) The Creation of a permanent Committee of experts. 

The Committee’s principal function would be to study the problem of developement, to develop a philosophy of development and the doctrine of action for international social justice.

It would be a “brain trust” with a “staff function”, but would not give directives. We beleive that it ought to be linked with the secretariate of State, while keeping a certain autonomy in the field of the development of its own research. The importance of this permanent Committee would be stressed by the nomination of a Cardinal as president; the nomination of a primate who has a deep knowledge of the situation of the developing countries would certainly make a profond impression on the world.

Finally, we beleive that there should not be too many people on this Committee that it should be made up of both clergy and laity and that it ought to be able to consult regularly certan people through the Creation of a consultative “board” in which the Conference would be represented.

What will be the position of the Conference regarding such a permanent Committee? Granted that the Committee would not have a directive role the reflexions and studies that it would develop would be sent, on the one hand to the Secretariate of State, and on the other hand to the Conference. These two organisations are capable of puting the advice given by the Committee into practice. In fact, the Conference is the only structure in the Chhrch which groups both CIO and Christians organised throughout the world.

Most of the CIO are preoccupied mainly with the problem of development and they have gained great experience in this field. As paragraph 1, no. 90 emphasizes “it is necessary to strengthen them by given them more personnel who are competent, by increasing the material means which they need and by coordinating their resources”. The Conference has decided to do this, espcially by providing offices in Paris and Geneva with more personnel who are qualified, and by tying to set up other offices at the regional level. In this way, the Conference can become a very effective instrument to influence official institutions.

Because of its autonomy, the Conference also can work very freely with non-govermental organisations because it is not suspected of carrying on a policy of proselytism.

Finally, in the Conference there are organisations of Christian inspiration which are not explicitly catholic and in which protestants and catholics work together- I am thinking for example of organisations such as Christians Trade-Unions or UNIAPAC – which would work with difficulty without a roman structure. The Conference therefore will be a sounding-board and the testing ground for the Committee of experts.

We believe that these proposals faithfully reflect the wishes of the Coucil fathers, expressed in paragraph 1,2, 3 of no. 90, and that this proposal respects the principal of subsidiarity which is so important if stuctures are to work well. Further more, it allows to widen its felld of activity as it has wanted to do in the past.