Genesis of the reflection

It is following the initiative of the MIEC and of the JECI that this common reflection began. In effect, at the beginning of the year 2001, the MIEC and the JECI bring to light, in a context of crisis, the importance of thinking together about the future of movements.  Indeed, many movements experience difficulties: “recruitment” becoming harder, declining budgets, growing distance in their relationship with the hierarchical Church.

International movements have been very important in the past. They have had an incontestable influence within the Church and society. In the Church, international movements are now a reality among others. And in society, do they have the same impact and the same effective- ness as they did some years ago? The question must be considered.

During the meeting of the Group of the Eight, that is of the International Movements for Specialised Catholic Action (MIACS), in January 2002, after an internal reflection, the MIEC and the JECI propose to the other MIACS, including the CIJOC, a common reflection so as to analyse the current situation of Specialised Catholic Action; the context in which each of the MIACS is, then to share one another’s visions about the future.

At the 23rd of March 2002, in Paris, each of the international movements assesses its situation. The group of the Eight brings out the strong convictions by which it is driven, the questions it asks itself about the pertinence of the movements; about their action and their structural impact in society and the Church. It brings out the questions requiring reflection and fixes up a meeting for July 2002. The objective of this meeting will be, after such an effort in the way of discernment, to trace perspectives and to bring out paths in order to move forward.

The context

In this perspective of having a close look at things, on the basis of the expression of each of the international movements in their preparatory work, the MIACS have identified, notably during the meeting of the 23rd of March 2002, a certain number of challenges to be taken up and of conviction to be asserted so that they may hold their position fully in a society and in a church which are both in a state of crisis.

In 2002, what are the challenges?

For society

– The power of liberal globalisation /internationalisation which leaves a god many countries and social groups on the side of the road (supremacy of economic prot to the detriment of the environment; consumer society in which materialism prevents one from experiencing solidarity and spirituality).

–              The emergence of individualism, the affirmation of the value of the individual as such.

–              The questioning of militancy.

–              The absence of an appropriate answer to the questions relative to everyday life (education, the environment, violence, consumption…).

–              The predominance of immediacy, involving difficulties to look towards the future, to anticipate what will happen.

Challenges in the Church

–              The reassertion of the parochial structure where movements have less space.

–              The importance of the “spiritual”.

–              Life as an expression of faith is taken into consideration to a lesser extent when in fact, the “life-faith” link is fundamental for all our movements.

–              Difficulties to account for the way in which we are evangelisation actors in the world and in the Church.

Internal challenges

–              The challenge concerning our identities: do we target at a specific public or do we have to be widely open ?

–              Challenges relating to our values: how to promote the dignity of every human being; the recognition of every man, every woman, of every human group as actors of their own development.

– To what extent and in what way are our movements spaces of socialisation.

–              The decline in militancy: it does affect us though not specifically.

–              About adult movements: the ageing of militants.

–              A lack of motivation in front of the scale of the task to be accomplished.

–              What about leadership : who leads the movement ? what about spiritual accompaniment ?

–              Difficulties to pass on our methodology.

–              The difficulty to make our reflections and our actions visible outside, in society and the Church.

–              The financing problem.

Our convictions

As           international        movements          for          specialised            catholic action, what are our convictions in 2002 ?

– Located at the heart of a civil society in constant evolution (international situation after the 11th of September, depreciation of the relation to politics and rise of nationalisms, evolution of modes of production and of jobs…) and of the Church…

– Located at the meeting point of movements of spirituality and action, we who have to link up constantly “to be” and “to do”… (what about solidarities; what about the opening onto the world?)

– Aware of the difficulty of passing on our convictions within the Church and society, but certain that our intuitions are still pertinent for the Church and society, we want :

– To create spaces of reflection, where creativity can arise, where even the denunciation of what is going wrong is possible, while showing respect for one another.

– To be in touch with as well as witnesses of life; of the strong characteristics of what people experience in society as a whole.

– To be forces of revival WITH people, particularly those who are more destitute. This implies a constant effort towards inculturation.

– To propose the model of a fairer world (democracy, solidarity) where life, even if it is “ordinary”, is taken seriously.

However, for this to happen, we are obliged, furthermore, to exercise our watchfulness, our critical mind and to remember the following questions :

– How to link together original intuitions, new languages, new ways of life?

– How to manage the tension between the gratuitousness of our propositions and the effectiveness of our actions for society?

– How not to limit the reappraisal of one’s life to a method but experience it as a spirituality, as a “tool” which gives a meaning to behaviours and to actions?