First of all I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all those to whom I owe to be involved in the reflection started a few months ago in the Specialized Catholic Action Movements in order to ensure their more active presence in the Church and in the heart of the world.

Shaped by the spirituality, the spirit and methodology of the Specialized Catholic Action since my earliest days, just like thousands of Christians throughout the world, benefiting from the huge richness of its international dimension, involved over the last twenty years in the restitution of all this contribution at the local, professional and ecclesial levels, I have immediately included all of today’s questions in those that I have where I am.

Once you are marked by the Catholic Action, you are marked for the rest of your life. This is why I will use the “we” form when I take the floor in the joint reflection undertaken by the SCAM (Specialized Catholic Action Movements).

After reading carefully the minutes of the reflection day of March 23, 2002, I notice a shared need to take stock of the situation of all SCAMs in order to better understand who the actors in the field really are, the structuring impact of the actions carried out by those actors on their environment, the articulation of those actions with those of the international actors, the action of those international actors within the Church and in Society. Beyond that need for an “inventory” regarding the “target group”, “internationality”, “spirituality”, “the false problems”, there is a clear and strong quest for a new inspiration that shows itself through :

– A concern for a redefinition of the SCAMs identity, for a rereading of the fundamental intuitions that led to their institution as a specific form of the presence of lay Christians in the world, for a reaffirmed place for lay Christians in the Church and their more perceptible presence in society.

–  The need to communicate with the world through, among other things, a deciphering of the “words” – or jargon – proper and internal to the SCAMs or the people initiated to this jargon, regarding the deep upheavals that have been restructuring the world since the end of the cold war. It is necessary to check whether these words convey or not, express or not, the SCAMs’ spirituality, action, and life. In other words, does the message that the SCAMs bring through their action, through their being, still come across? How does the world see it ? How is it accepted ? Actually, although they are the leaven in the dough, the Christians are also dough; although they are the salt of the earth, they are also the earth; although they are the light of the world, they are also the world… How could the dough be leavened if the leaven does not affect the dough ? How  could the salt give flavor if its flavor does not spread to the earth ? How could the light shine if the candle is put under a bushel ?

– Finally, the need to have an efficient impact within the Church and in society through a renewed, active, visible, readable and audible presence. Often remind people within the Church, according to Pius XII’s formula, that as lay people engaged in Catholic Action, we are not only within the Church but we are the Church; remind the society of what, in our actions, contributes to making it progress in terms of quality;

finally, remind people of the reasons of our hope.

The underlying questions to the above topics, the purpose of which is only to contribute to “making the Church every day more faithful to her mission, more true to her husband”, also express the certainty that the Spirit of Christ is acting in His Church and that the world, in spite of its deficiencies and its sins, is moved by grace. Because they are incorporated into Him through baptism, lay people also have the mission to cooperate in the renewal of the world and of the Church.

“Since the laity, in accordance with their state of life, live in the midst of the world and its concerns, they are called by God to exercise their apostolate in the world like leaven, with the ardor of the spirit of Christ.” (Post conciliar Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity.  18    November 1965).

It should be reminded that a chapter of this decree is dedicated to Catholic Action and defines its outlines. There is also a large description of the essence of the apostolate of the Laity in the encyclicals: Evangelii Nuntiandi (Paul VI, 1975) – Christi fideles Laici (John Paul II, 1988) – Redemptoris Missio (John Paul II, 1995).

One thing remains immutable: if the whole Church must be present in the world as the “universal sacrament of salvation”, it is more particularly the lay person who lives an ecclesial experience of secular presence and temporal commitment. From the very beginning, the Specialized Catholic Action has founded its intuition on the organized form of apostolate in the “milieu” through the “milieu”: “The first and immediate apostles to the workers ought to be workers; the apostles to those who follow industry and trade ought to be from among them themselves” (Quadragesimo anno – 1931). “Children also have their own apostolic work to do. According to their ability they are true living witnesses of Christ among their companions.” (Vatican II. Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity. 18 November 1965).

The apostolate through the “See Judge Act”

In a world in which many counter-values are clearly raised to the statue of norms: competition in everything, easy prot, predominance of the law of the strongest, corruption, blatant violations of human rights, in a world in which everything is justified, the “See” and “Judge” are more than ever necessary for the SCAMs to exercise the apostolate.

“Seeing” allows to look in a certain way at men, created in the image of God and saved by the grace of Redemption, and at the events that have to be arranged according to God’s plan of love on creation. Through the “Judging”, baptized lay people learn how to cultivate in their lives, in an individual or collective way, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might (Isaiah, 11,1-3) so that the world is no longer perceived summarily through the barriers of good and evil but through a constant quest for the truth; the truth that means that the world, in spite of the wounds of individual and collective sins, is touched by the grace and all that is good, beautiful, and true in the world contributes to the glory of God and to the advent of the Kingdom. In this way, although it is distinct, the Church-World reality remains inseparable. “I sent them into the world, just as you sent me into the world.” (John 17, 18) “I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but I do ask you to keep them safe from the Evil One. Just as I do not belong to the world, they do not belong to the world. Dedicate them to yourself by means of the truth: your word is truth.” (John 17, 15-17)

The world is really the place of Mission for the SCAMS

“See” and “Judge” is the way that we live out Jesus’ prayer “Sanctify them through thy Truth”. It is the necessary discernment between distinction-relation, Church-World that led Mgr. Coffy, former Archbishop of Marseilles to say: “Today, as always, there will be a distance between the Church and the world. If this distance did not exist, that would mean either that the Church only says to the world what the world itself says, or the world lives the Gospel perfectly. In this last case, the Kingdom would have reached plenitude and in the first case, the Church would not be the Church of Christ… This distance between the Church and the world is precisely the place for the mission. This distance is to be reduced, not through adapting the Gospel to the spirit of the world but through calling men to convert to the Gospel…”

Why say about the world only what the world says about itself? We know how its complexity is reinforced through all that is done and undone by the superpowers, under the very nose of the poor powerless countries that are more than ever marginalized by an unparalleled arrogance: we are referring, among other things and as an example, to the war against terrorism  after  the  terrible  attacks  of September 11, 2001, to the way the excessively long conflict between Israel and Palestine is dealt with, to the concentration of the capital and the  world market in ever smaller circles, to the serious dysfunctions of the world trade which have taken a heavy toll of the poor, and most specifically the workers, the peasants, and women in poor countries… just to mention a few of those realities that are directly intensifying poverty among entire sections of populations in our Southern countries and among large sections of people in a situation of precariousness in the Northern countries.

The requirements of the “See” and “Judge” lead us ineluctably to join others on whom the Spirit of God also exercises his power, and gives strength and audacity to “truly” look for what is best for man and for mankind.

The review of life, a path to personal conversion, a path to structural conversion

In order not to see the world the way the world sees itself, “see and judge” should first and foremost mean “see and judge” one’s own life. It is necessary to rehabilitate, to give meaning and content again to the concept of “personal conversion”.

“… If I do not wash your feet, you will no longer be my disciple…” (John 13, 8). Doesn’t that mean “sweep around your own front door”, a saying used in many languages throughout the world? This is where we need to re-discover the new being, the new creature that we have become in Christ through baptism. “When anyone is joined to Christ, he is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.” (2 Co 5, 17)

If we can refer to the fact that, through baptism, we are born again in Christ who sends us after him to announce the Good News, then, this new creature is and lives under the regime of the Spirit! To let ourselves be “guided” already means that our human, intellectual capacities alone, including in solidarity with men and women of good will, do not have the last word in the adventure of the advent of the Kingdom in our living environments! We will be more able to see beyond our own lives, to discover the lives of our brothers and the life of the world to the inmost depths of the structural mechanisms that undermine the harmony of creation and are called: injustice, poverty, wars, loss of references   for a decent life for everyone, in particular those who are most deprived of knowledge and power, the have-nots.

To re-discover this path of “Truth” will strengthen us in the certainty that the Holy Spirit is not the property of any movement within the Church. And better than this, if its action and its grace model our lives, the same thing goes for the world where it precedes us. It actually roots us out of a cozy spiritualism by inviting us to the building sites of our living environments where he calls for our cooperation to “lift up the humble, fill the hungry with good things, and send the rich away empty”.

The situation of the specific vocation of the SCAMs at the dawn of the 3rd millenium

In December 1995, an important ecclesial event went almost unnoticed among the general public, and even in the Church: the commemoration – through an impressive program – of the 30th anniversary of Gaudium et Spes (pastoral constitution of the II Vatican Council on “The Church in the Modern World”), as an obligation  of presence  and mission  in the world. During that commemoration, Pope John Paul II, before the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, defined Gaudium et Spes as the “Charter of human dignity”. More than a celebration, it was a time for a reflection on the analyses and indications contained in Gaudium et Spes to check its value as a reference today, in a different world context. Deep changes have taken place in the world since the II Vatican Council: the end of the cold war, the challenges raised by the protection of the environment, globalization, the debt burden of the poor countries, the challenges raised by the control of population growth, the aids pandemic… It is clear that the whole second part of Gaudium et Spes needs to be updated. One can actually consider as an attempt to update it the bishops’ world synods that have dealt, since the Council, with various topics such as Justice in the World (1971), Evangelization in the Modern World (1974), The Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the World (1988), or the synods dedicated to the continents such as the synod on Africa in 1994, or also some encyclicals dedicated to social issues, to work…

Why are we mentioning this event here? Because an International Lay Congress (Lorette, November 9-11, 1995) had marked this commemoration in a significant way. Its purpose was to carry out a rereading of Gaudium et Spes and its objectives :

– Scrutinize the new signs of the times, keeping in one’s heart the message of the gospel and in the eyes the everyday life of man today, his anxieties, his griefs, his hopes (Gaudium et Spes, 1 and 4)

– Try to discern and analyze the most significant challenges raised to the mission of the Church, and especially to the commitment of lay Christians, “in this great and dramatic moment in history” (Christi fideles laici, 3)

– Identify the difficulties faced by lay Catholics who are in   charge of major responsibilities in the various fields of their social integration and who are called to bear witness to Christ and to make their own contribution to building paths of justice and peace (Christi fideles laici, 36-45)

– Examine their duties in the light of :

– the faith in Jesus Christ, “the key, the focal point and the goal of all human history” (Gaudium et Spes, 10)

– the principles of any authentic human community: person, common good, equality, responsibility-participation, solidarity (Gaudium et Spes, 23 and following)

– the intimate relation-distinction between human progress and the Kingdom of God (Gaudium et Spes, 33 and following)

– the magisterium of John Paul II

Aren’t those concerns precisely the fundamental concerns of the SCAMs ? Hasn’t this rereading precisely been taking place for a long time, more or less clearly, within each movement and hasn’t it been formalizing in a common platform since the meeting of March 23, 2002? I think so, and I also think that it will require more than two meetings. This is why, as Church, the SCAMs should not wait until they are given a place in the Church. They must actually take their place !

Eclipse of Scams within the Church: acknowledgment of a marginlization

We are too often accused of being “social”… The Church pulls out from the specialized apostolate movements… Spirituality is the starting point of our work, we have to underline it… To be in the Church, to have our place and to play our role…” These are some of the concerns that were strongly expressed during the reflections on March 23.

The SCAMs are indeed perceived as groups that put the candle of their baptism under a bushel and at the same time proclaim that they are baptized. They are perceived as groups that give no room, or very little room, to the catechesis of the reminder of the Source to which they have to refer: that of the strength, the novelty, the authority that baptism confers on the disciples of Jesus Christ.

In the 70s and 80s, at the international level and in a number of national movements, the theology of liberation strongly marked the SCAMs, their identity, their methodology, their way of expressing themselves. Although the strong accent placed on the Beatitudes, in the action and the being of Christians, was a highly salutary reminder to the whole Church, the suspicion of the hierarchy, in Rome and in the local churches, rapidly showed itself against the instruments of reflection and the methods of commitment of the Christians who were too easily described as Marxists. We all remember the controversies that emerged at the time, and the effort to take control that led to the current reorientation towards “the new evangelization””… The real marginalization of the SCAMs began when the theology of liberation was shelved.

With hindsight, one can now note some specific features of the SCAMs at the time when a page of the history of the universal Church was mostly being written by Churches of the south, in particular the Churches of Latin America. Some features have largely contributed – but there are other causes – to the suspicion aroused by the SCAMs which led to a lack of interest towards them :

– A radicalism in the language with a pronounced tendency to limit the presence and action of the SCAMs to the social, economic and political dimensions of life and of the events exclusively.

– A great difficulty in expressing the presence of the Spirit of Jesus Christ in the life of the movements and to bear witness to the Kingdom that is being built and that is coming.

– An egocentricity that brings out, consciously or unconsciously, a minimization of the so-called spirituality movements or “new ecclesial currents” that are easily lumped together.

– a form of self-importance with respect  to  other  institutions working in the same fields and which, with a less consistent content but with more means and more strength, are recognized today by the public opinion. For example, the host of organizations of the civil society that are involved in all spheres of the economic and political life, in labor, children or women issues…

Overcoming the misunderstanding. Reminding of the identity

The damage caused to the SCAMs because of their way of being at one point in the History of the Church of the last quarter of the 20th century – it is important to place things in their context – shows that in the Church, relative and limited parameters were used to measure the degree of ecclesiality of the persons and movements, which contributed to favor the visibility and influence of groups and movements that are regarded as being more ecclesial and more spiritual to the detriment of others that are supposed not to be like that, or not enough. The first ones, “the new ecclesial currents”, have the advantage of having the means to be visible within the Church, the others don’t.

It behooves the SCAMs today to bring the Church to overcome that misunderstanding, that ignorance, as that ignorance may be a pretext kept up in order not to give the SCAMs the place they deserve. It behooves the SCAMs to remind, at appropriate and inappropriate times, that nothing that the Spirit inspires is perishable under the effect of time. About the specialized Catholic Action, Pope Pius XI said that he “defined it consciously and unconsciously – one could even say not without divine inspiration – as the participation of the Catholic laity in the real apostolate specific to the Church” (March 19, 1927).

The place of the SCAMs in the world is like the salt of the earth, the yeast in the dough, the light in the city. Refocusing our lives, the life of our movements, of our actions on Christ means to question our way of living the Beatitudes, in order to understand how those lives can become light, joy and hope for others. The primary mission of the movements is not a systematic mission of catechesis. The changes that the world needs are right here, they are urgent. They call the SCAMs to take action together with other men, women, children of all cultures, all traditions, all religions. But it also behooves them not to forget that the salt, the yeast and the light that they are, individually and collectively, constantly need the strength of the Spirit to make their actions fruitful. This is how they will be recognized. The social changes measured with other actors in the eld may be uncertain even if we try to make them perennial from an educational standpoint. Lasting transforming actions are those that free people deep down inside, those that make them discover inner joy, those that give them the strength to progress in Hope, despite the increasingly harsh adversities put up on the road of the weakest because of the way the world functions today. “Lord, will you at this time give the Kingdom back to Israel? … The times and occasions are set by my Father’s own authority, and it is not for you to know when they will be. But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be lled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Ac 1, 6-8)

The grace of our baptism and the part we take with Christ in the Eucharist meeting enable us to draw our strength in him and to move forward, whatever it costs, once we have recognized the way He shows us among our brothers. This is why when, during the Eucharist, we offer to God those children, those young and elderly people, women and men of the world of work, of the student and rural world, of the world of culture, people with economic and political responsibilities among which we are called to make our way, we do not offer them so that He looks at them with mercy but so that He carries them, He walks along with them, and stays with them.

Through that grace, the SCAMs are to learn again to look at the events, the life and the transforming actions, which are gathered in the movement, with the prophetic eye with which Jesus started his public life:

“The Spirit of Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people.” (Luke 4, 18-19)

To be able to witnesses

“Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you should suffer for doing what is right, how happy you are! Do not be afraid of anyone, and do not worry. But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honor him as Lord. Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect…” (1 Pierre 3, 13-16)

Indeed, we have to be able to be witnesses to the fact that, every time that children, in their MIDADE clubs, transcend the borders of hatred, of ethnic clans, to build peace, the prophecy comes true and the Kingdom of God is being built under our very eyes. Every time that in the name of their faith, workers join the cause of their brothers for a fairer distribution of opportunities, of the fruit of work, for more dignity for the human person, the Kingdom is being built… “This has come true today.”

It is urgent to reformulate for today the relevance of the groundwork on which the identity of the Specialized Catholic Action is based. It implies to revisit reference documents such as those mentioned above, but also to refer to the “witnesses” of yesterday, who include great figures who are still here today, as well as to the heritage of the evangelization actions that has been built up by each of the movements for several generations. The works of the informal group Commitment and Faith initiated by the Group of Eight in the mid-70s would also be useful in this re-reading work. This reformulation may be expressed in a SCAM’s common Charter.

The latter would give a new relevance to their presence in this beginning of the third millennium. This common reference document, that will be largely distributed, may enlighten those who adhere to a SCAM for the first time to do it through an interiorization and an appropriation of the Charter. In addition to this, it will allow each SCAM, starting from a common basis, to work out and define applications specific to their particularisms.

Owing to the global way in which the international community wants to deal with the problems in the world, many problems affecting the day-to-day life are sometimes suddenly brought out and mobilize the governments, the civil society and many new experts who open new “growth niches”: issues relating to child rights, to women (gender, rights, schooling for girls…), to public health (HIV/aids pandemic, malaria), to environment (ecology, pollution…), to the habitat, to youth employment, to the population (demography, reproduction…). It should be noted that some slogans that were in fashion yesterday, such as “Health and education for all by the year 2000” have in the meantime sunk into oblivion !

Those issues mobilize the public opinion a lot. Politicians, who really try to keep up with the times, are using adequate tools to achieve it. Better than that, to adjust to a context of world protest, due in particular to the anti-globalization movements, a new theme is emerging in poor countries: the struggle for poverty reduction. Who would a priori be against this type of themes? No man of good sense! Everybody (or almost everybody) makes them theirs: the public authorities, the media, associations of all kinds, opinion leaders, religious leaders, trade unions, political parties.

With the others, in which fields?

How can we find our bearings in this globalizing current of the “ready to think”  where the person is becoming less and less important while figures and ratios are becoming more and more important ? As one among so many others, do we have anything special to say ? What language should we use to make our message heard ?

– Buried, like the yeast in the dough, the SCAMs can explain better than anybody else what the “dough” consists in, its aspirations, its particularities, the paths it opens to free itself from all servitudes. In other words, to announce the advance of the Kingdom.

– Many blights undermine our societies and can neutralize so many efforts made by men and women of good will: small-scale and large- scale corruption, the frantic race for easy profit, the non respect of the nation… The list is not exhaustive! We need to reestablish the link between faith and “moral action”1), in a world that is getting rid of it and in which many aspire to it without knowing its name, in a world in which the “moralization of the nation” becomes a slogan for the governance, an alibi found by the public authorities to clear themselves.

– Remind, at appropriate and inappropriate times, of the struggle for survival carried out by the poor, those who have no say and in the name of whom so many development programs are launched.

– Reintroduce a bit of dream2), a vision, values, in a world that has lost them. Speak again of the person, of the persons instead of speaking of “groups, “masses”, “populations”…

The right words

In order to have an efficient communication with the world, it is necessary to go through the jargon peculiar to the SCAMs with a ne- tooth comb. In the modern world, it is common to change the image of a product or message without changing the content, the only concern being to arouse renewed interest for the product or the message! Is such exercise conceivable with the words used in the SCAMs? Everybody knows the suggestion and comprehension power that words convey. Such a question should be debated if we want to be heard and understood by the society. The idea is not, a priori, to find new words at all costs (to change a word might lead to the collapse of a whole terminological structure and of a system of thought) but to check first whether the words that have been used up to now convey the whole force of the message to the public.

1)            “… Faith and moral Action are linked. Indeed, the gift that we have received leads us to permanent conversion, to imitate Christ and be in agreement with the divine promise. The word of God transforms the existence of those who welcome it, for it is the rule of faith and action. In their existence, to respect the essential values, Christians also experience suffering that can result from moral, and sometimes heroic, choices that oppose the behaviors of the world…” (John Paul II to the youths. Baptismal evening gathering, WYD, Paris, 1997)

2)            “…The Christians of the next millennium are required not to be avaricious and on the defensive. To be a Christian truly is a fundamental human attitude: to be debtors, love debtors. In today’s world, the main model is that of the consumer: people are always lacking something, even the richest and the most satisfied. It is the system that makes us continually discover new needs to meet, and therefore, it creates a desire to buy what we are lacking. The Christian is not a consumer. He/she realizes that he/she has a debt towards the others: the debt of the Gospel, a debt of solidarity with the poorest. To dream means to be aware of the love debt. For a Christian, there is no rhetoric in the phrase “fraternal love”… To live out fraternal love means not to accept as an inevitable fate that the poor be poor and become poorer and poorer, and not to accept, like a wall, the cast or class barriers, the ethnic barriers, or the divisions, that of hatred transmitted from one generation to the next. To live out fraternal love means not to consider the North-South gap as inevitable, not to accept the logic of nationalism inherited from other generations but on the contrary, to find an answer to violence, to the hatred that has become a system of relations with the culture of the enemy… How to do all this? … The general fear of dreaming (in the sense given to the dream in the Bible!) the world of tomorrow adds to the thought of our own future, perceived in an individualistic (or even purely realistic) way of viewing our lives, and it often excludes a great many people from our horizon: in particular the most needy. To think of the others implies to turn our eyes a little bit away from ourselves, to widen our horizons, and to start dreaming…” (Andrea Riccardi, Sant’ Egidio Community)

Using medias as a tool

Communicating also means writing, spreading a message, making oneself known through all the media: the local, regional, and international ones. In today’s world, communicating through the media confers visibility to messages, to actions. It is a means to reach people. This is why the Church fosters evangelization through the social media. We need to overcome our sense of modesty that leads us to deprive ourselves of those means of communication from the moment that the objectives that have been set are clearly defined.

We do not communicate for the sake of communicating but in order to attain objectives. For example, the Sant’Egidio community uses those means widely in its political and diplomatic actions without ever undermining the authenticity and the content of its message and actions.

In society, communication can also be relayed by authorized voices, or emblematic figures who have in the public the power of competence, the power of credibility, and the power of their commitment.

Faced on the one hand with the Church’s disinterest in the SCAMs, due to a lack of knowledge, a lack of information, or a lack of clear expression of some founding concepts of our identity, faced on the other hand with the huge richness, the valuable capital of testimonies, facts of life, actions that we witness in our SCAMs, we have to learn again to “sell” our merchandise within the Church itself.

Not only make sure that this richness is not lost

But make it grow, it is the duty of all generations.

Thousands and thousands of Christians throughout the world would not accept to let this richness fall into oblivion. Geneviève Honoré-Lainé, 89 years old today, founding member of the JICF (French Independent Christian Youth) in France, journalist for the publication “La Croix” for 30 years, wrote, in June 1997, a memo titled: “A page of History of the Church in the 20th century: the Specialized Catholic Action”. After relating the History of the birth of the JOCF (French Young Christian Workers) in France, she ends her testimony with the following conclusion, titled The Communion of Saints:

“This 20th century has beneted from the contribution of the past centuries. But it has shed its own light on the centuries to come. Which apostolate can be lived from now onwards if it is not “organized”? Which Christian, in the face of any event, would not draw his/her inspiration from the “See, Judge, Act” which guided the years of our youth? Which apostolic mission can be carried out if it is not “mandated” by the bishop? Whether we like it or not, the Specialized Catholic Action will mark the centuries to come, perhaps in other forms, because in the field of the apostolate just like in any other field, discoveries are related, they are knit together, they bring about one another. It is what we could call the “communion of saints”: the earthly Church will never stop drawing both “old things and new things” out of the treasure of which she is the depositary. The fact is that as the end of the century is drawing near, it is very tempting, in the face of an obvious shortage of priests, to use lay people to substitute the consecrated ministries, and therefore, it is good to firmly underline the specificity of the apostolate of lay people as baptized, privileged and even unique witnesses  in  their living environment. This is probably the irreversible contribution of the Specialized Catholic Action to the Church throughout the 20th century.”

Jeanne Picard-Aubert, co-founder of the JOCF in France in 1928, expresses her opinion regarding Geneviève Honoré-Lainé’s testimony in a letter dated June 28, 1997 : “As the end of the century is drawing near, one might forget the considerable contribution made by the Specialized Catholic Action to the Church, and therefore I am delighted that this document was written, and I countersign it with pleasure.”

Building bridges

– Innovate by building bridges  between  the  SCAMs  and  other very influential ecclesial currents of lay apostolate whose actions and reflections are going along the line of spiritual conversion, conversion of the world, structural transformation. We could think of the Sant’Egidio community, perhaps of others too. They have such an aura, such an influence in the world and in the Church that it would be a pity to continue ignoring them and cultivating parallel commitments systematically. Why not begin to meet on a regular basis for sharing and exchanges, or simply for celebrations on common themes? Why not contemplate the possibility of joint campaigns on specific themes of concern for our organizations both at the international level and at the local level where they have informal, simple communities?1)

– Continue without respite to hold periodic meetings with the Roman dicasteries. Give them documents that reconcile the essence and the existence of the SCAMs in the Church and in the world.

– Strengthen the current partnership relations with the development aid organizations.

Try to dismantle the battery, see if everything is working properly, do our very best to recharge it on a regular basis, then work patiently, using all possible means, so that a “living memory” of the Specialized Catholic Action can be reinvested in the universal Church, kept and transmitted in its essence from generation to generation.