Lay group representation at Vatican II vs the Plenary Council

As noted in my previous post, lay and other ecclesial groups, communities and movements are not represented among the members of the Plenary Council, with the exception of the Society of St Vincent De Paul or where individuals have been appointed among the various diocesan representations.

Other lay people at the Council are all there as representatives of one or another institutional Catholic body e.g. from the Catholic health or Catholic education spheres.

Basically, there is a lack of representation of grassroots Catholic lay and ecclesial groups. Even Vinnies is perhaps there because of it is the most institutional of the Catholic lay groups with its networks of services, shops, etc.

Now let us compare that with what happened at Vatican II.

Originally, John XXIII did not want lay participation at the Council, viewing it as a meeting of bishops. This caused a strong reaction from the lay movements, including the International YCW, the World Movement of Christian Workers, Pax Romana and no doubt many more.

John XXIII was already very ill by the time the Council opened and died prior to the Second Session. Nevertheless, the lobbying by the lay movements was effective.

 As a result, things changed following the election of Paul VI, who had been a Catholic student chaplain with the Italian affiliate of Pax Romana, and who had long been close to other Catholic lay organisations, including the YCW. He was particularly close to Cardijn, of course, and ultimately made him a cardinal.

Without going into the details of this history, let us just look at how things had changed by 1965. Below is a list of auditors issued by the Vatican Press Office at the beginning of the Fourth Session of Vatican II in 1965. Particularly notable is that each person is not mentioned as an individual but as a representative of a group or movement.

I have highlighted the groups and movements with a grassroots membership structure (that I am familiar with).

It is very clear from this list that a great effort was made to offer representation to grassroots Catholic lay (they were mostly lay) groups and movements at the Council.

Yet here we are nearly 60 years later on the eve of the Australian Plenary Council and nothing similar has been foreshadowed for the lay and other ecclesial groups, communities and movements that exist today.

Why have our movements and communities been so comprehensively ignored?

Surely this is something that needs to change? And very soon!

Lay Auditors at the Council 

The following is the list of Council auditors, issued by the Vatican Press:

Mr. Eusebe Adjakpley, regional secretary for Africa, of the International Federation of Catholic Youth, from Togo.

Mr. and Mrs. Jose Alvarez Icaza, founders of the Christian Family Movement in Mexico, Mexico.

Miss Pilar Bellosillo, President of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations, Spain.

Mr. John Chen, President of the Lay Apostolate Council, Hong Kong.

Mr. K. C. Chacko, director of the “College of Engineering” in Kerala, India.

Mr. Raoul Delgrange, former president of the International Catholic Child Welfare Bureau.

Mr. Frank Duff, Founder and President of the Legion of Mary, Dublin.

Miss Gertrude Ehrle, member of the Bureau of World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations, Rome.

Mr. Joseph M. Fitzgerald, President of Serra International, United States.

Mr. Paul Fleig, President of the World Union of Catholic Teachers, Germany.

Dr. Luigi Gedda, President of the (International) Federation of Catholic Doctors, Rome.

Miss Rosemary Goldie, Executive secretary of COPECIAL.

Mr. Silvio Golzio, President of Directive Council of COPECIAL, Italy.

Mrs. Ida Ved. Grillo née Malenglul-Marenco, Union of Women’s Catholic Action in Italy.

Mr. Jean Guitton, of the French Academy, France.

Mr. Mieczyslaw de Habicht, Permanent Secretary of the Conference of International Catholic Organisation, Switzerland.

Mr. Jose-Maria Hermandez, President of Catholic Action in the Philippines.

Mr. Emile Inglessis, Director of the General Secretariat of International Federation of Catholic Men.

Mr. Patrick Keegan, President of the World Movement of Christian Workers and member of the Directive Council of COPECIAL, London.

Mr. Jean Larnaud, Secretary-General of International Catholic Co-ordination Centre to UNESCO, Paris.

B05E-Walter Von Loe, President of International Federation of Adult Catholic Rural Movements (FIMARC), Germany.

Mrs. Joseph McCarthy of the National Council of Catholic Women, USA.

Mr. Raymond Manzini, of l’Osservatore Romano and President of the International Union of Catholic Press, Rome.

Miss Alda Miceli, President-General of the “Missionaries of Christ’s Kingship” and of the “Italian Woman’s Centre,” Rome.

Miss M. Louise Monnet, President of the International Movement for the Apostolate among the Independent Social Milieux, France.

Marchioness Amalia Ved. Cordero Lanza of Montezemolo, President of the Association for Aid to the Armed Forces, Rome.

Miss Margarite Moyano Llerena, President of the World Federation of Young Catholic Women, Belgium.

Mr. James Norris, President of the International Catholic Commission for Migration, New York.

Miss Gladys Parentelli, Vice-President of the International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth (MIJARC), Rome.

Mr. Bartelo Perez, President of the International YCW, Belgium.

Miss Anne Marie Roeloffzen, Secretary-General of the World Federation of Catholic Young Women.

Mr. Henri Rollet, President of the International Federation of Catholic Men, Paris.

Mr. Stephen Roman, of the Byzantine Rite, Canada.

Mr. Leon de Rosen, President of the International Union of Christian Business Directors (UNIAPAC), France.

Baronne Hedwige Skoda, member of the international team of Renaissance Chretienne, France.

Mr. Ramon Sugranyes de Franch, President of Pax Romana-MIIC and of the Conference of International Catholic Organisations, Switzerland.

Mr. August Vanistendael, Secretary General of the International Confederation of Christian Trade Unions, Belgium.

Mr. Juan Vazquez, President of the International Federation of Catholic Youth, member of COPECIAL Directive Council.

Mr. Vittorino Veronese, Ex-Director General of UNESCO and President of the 1st and second World Congresses of Lay Apostolate, Rome.

Mr. Francois Vito, Vice-President of the International Federation of Catholic Universities, Italy.

Mr. Stefan Swiezawski, Catholic University of Lublin, Poland.

Mr. Martin Work, Executive Director of the National Council of Catholic Men, USA, COPECIAL executive Council member.

The following is a list of the nun auditors at the Council:

Mother Baldinucci, Superior General of the Sisters of the Child Mary.

Mother Jerome Chimy, s.s.m.t. (Ukrainian).

Mother Estrada, Ex-Superior General of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart.

Mother Claudia Feddish, Superior General of the Order of Basilians of Saint Macrina (Byzantine rite).

Mother Marie Henriette Ghanem, Superior of the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, President of the Assembly of Major Superiors of the Lebanon.

Mother Guillemin, Superior General of the French Sisters of Charity.

Sister M. Juliana, A.D.J.C., Secretary General of the Union of Major Superiors of Germany.

Mother Marie de la Croix Khouzam, Superior General of the Egyptian Sisters of the Sacred Heart and President of the Union of Teaching Sisters of Egypt.

Mother Mary Luke, Superior General of the Sisters of Loreto in Nerinx, Kentucky, USA, and President of the Conference of Major Superiors of Women’s Institutes in the USA.

Mother Sabine de Valon, Superior General of the Sacred Heart Sisters.


The Tablet, 2 October 1965 (Pat Keegan Website)


The Spirit of Charity /Carmel McEnroy / Guests in Our Own House







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