This month marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption by the Church of the See – Judge – Act method as part of Catholic social teaching and practice.
Pope John XXII formally recognized the See Judge Act method in his encyclical Mater et Magistra published on 15 May 1961.
In a statement, the Cardijn Community International recalls that it was the late Cardinal Joseph Cardijn, founder of the Young Christian Workers (YCW) movement, who had suggested to Pope John that he issue an encyclical to mark the 70th anniversary of Pope Leo’s XIII landmark encyclical Rerum Novarum.
In response, Pope John requested Cardijn to provide an outline of issues to be addressed in the encyclical. This he did in a twenty page memorandum submitted to the pontiff.
When Mater et Magistra appeared just over a year later, the encyclical noted that “there are three stages which should normally be followed in the reduction of social principles into practice.” (Paragraph 236).
“First, one reviews the concrete situation,” Pope John wrote, “secondly, one forms a judgement on it in the light of these same principles; thirdly, one decides what in the circumstances can and should be done to implement these principles.
“These are the three stages that are usually expressed in the three terms: look, judge, act,” the encyclical continued.
“We believe that even Cardijn was surprised to discover the extent of this recognition in the encyclical,” commented Cardijn Community International convenor, MJ Ruben.
“Since then, the See – Judge – Act method has been recognized and adopted by the whole Church,” Ruben continued.
“It shows how Cardijn was a teacher for the whole Church – not only for young workers,” he said.
“It is another reason that we hope that Cardijn will one day be recognized as a Doctor of the Church,” he concluded.