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Historical insights to kick-start lay social movements

A meeting in Sydney this week will hear how time has obscured the role of lay movements in the ongoing development of Catholic social teaching.

Malaysia-based Catholic historian Stefan Gigacz, who will speak at Thursday's event, says what the Pope and bishops have to say on issues such as asylum seekers and taxation owes much to the pioneering work of lay movements.

"The history of lay movements is the story of how Catholic lay people confronted social issues in the conditions of every day life," he said.

"It is often said that Catholic social teaching is the Church's best kept secret. If so, then a greater hidden asset would be the history of Catholic lay movements' contributions toward this tradition."

Mr Gigacz conducted his original research in lay movements whilst working for the International Young Christian Workers in Belgium. His research uncovered never before acknowledged links between the ideas espoused by the little known early 20th century "Sillon" lay movement and some important concepts in Vatican II documents.

"The Sillon definition of democracy [was successfully embedded in] several key Vatican II concepts such as religious freedom, the role of lay people, the mission of the Church in the modern world and even the missionary activity of the Church", Mr Gigacz said.

Mr Gigacz challenges lay movements like ACMICA-Australian Catholic Movement for Intellectual Affairs, co-host of the free seminar on Thursday, to help Catholics become more conscious of their significant heritage and identity.

Well-known Jesuit lawyer, Fr Frank Brennan, and former executive secretary of the ACSJC Sandie Cornish will join Mr Gigacz at the ACMICA-ACU sponsored seminar at 7:00 pm on Thursday night at the University's Ryan Auditorium at 40 Edward Street, North Sydney.

Ms Cornish who herself had recently returned from a post in Hong Kong will share her views from a cross-cultural and feminist perspective. Fr Brennan, who is due to commence a one year research fellowship at Boston College, Massachusetts in September, will address the seminar question from angle of Church leadership.

"Lay movements should know their roots": Catholic historian to argue at free ACMICA-ACU seminar on Thursday (Australian Catholic Movement for Intellectual & Cultural Affairs 8/6/04)

Stefan Gigacz: Healing the Fractured Memory of the Lay Movements (Australian Catholic Movement for Intellectual & Cultural Affairs 8/6/04)
Stefan Gigacz - The Sillon and the YCW: Towards an Understanding of the Origins of the YCW

8 Jun 2004