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This text is a review of 4 years council experiences. It is intended to support the debates of the upcoming PA2016 about the future activities of Pax Romana Icmica.

 

1 Back to the recent history

Before 2012, the « Human rights based » model.

Most of the energy of the SG was dedicated to human rights (HR) and advocacy activities. PR was efficient and well known in Geneva, projects brought money to pay the SG, but without reaching financial balance. Money didn’t come from movement’s activities but from the personal skills of a single person. Being obliged to work on projects, only little could be done for the internal life of the movement. Projects made us a good subcontractor of funding agencies, but hided a weakening movement.

Council meeting in 2011 (Köln)

                It was a crisis council: internal relations with US federation (9 pages of the report), financial with a special call to collect 150.000€ (only 1000€ came) and working group on statutes (never implemented). To reduce costs, the council proposed to elect a volunteer as SG, which was done in Vienna in 2012

After Vienna 2012: the change

HR activities went on, run by Lawrencia Kwark as a service provider, cheaper than a full-timer. The SG could dedicate more to the internal life of Icmica. There was one more person acting at the international level.

Many things had to be invented, sometimes with efficient decisions (monthly council Skype meetings, survey on the future of the Church) sometimes inefficient ones, (position papers, theoretical structures, thematic groups). Many times the conclusion was: we don’t implement what we decide, but we do better than planned. This was a sign of hope, something new happening from the life of the movement.

2 Five experiences opening a future.

Community building.

We started many experiences of communication: website, Facebook pages and groups, newsletters, Hangout meetings, Skype interviews and conferences, Twits for new articles. They need evaluation, but we learnt that making people meet one another is as important as sharing ideas; it is not enough to build thematic networks, we must become a lay Christian worldwide community. We need more humane communication: online interview is more human than a text but less than being really together. Christian community means supporting one another at the service of the mission, and the theme “from indifference to mercy” is a challenge for the life of PR.

Partnership

We are too small to work alone. NGOs partnership during UPR (Universal periodic review of HR), with the Company of Mary in Geneva, Dominicans in Vienna, and with International Specialized Catholic Action Movements allow us to be more present in the International Institutions, more visible in the Church, and - maybe the most important - to be challenged by partners having similar visions, but different ways of doing.

To know better the local situations

Situations are more important than themes, but themes are necessary for global analysis. From the global level or from one movement to another, we don’t know enough local realities which are very diverse. Then PR often works « soilless », without being able to see and judge correctly. How to read the signs of times without a regular attention to movements’ life? New tools offer possibilities to know better situations and members.

Decision process

Plans of action decided from above in a company-minded pyramidal view are inefficient. Volunteers only commit themselves for challenges which are meaningful for them. Then decision making at international level, must be connected to what local members are willing to commit in. More than designing structures, the main challenge of a plan of action is to find people ready to commit for a worthwhile mission.

Being elected means being active.

Half of elected people in Vienna didn’t implement their mandate up to the end for various reasons. The recent election of a new VP in Europe brought a new dynamism at the continental and council level. Because function is not a title but a mission to fulfil, such replacement should be decided quickly when needed. All members in charge of a mission should work with a team able to help or replace them if necessary.

Conclusion.

As Abraham, we are moving without knowing exactly where, God will tell us. This is how to move when the future is not in our hands, this is why we are called « Movement ». We are not in crisis but in renewal times and with ongoing unsolved challenges.

3 Four experiences revealing challenges.

Mission in acts: « put flesh around words »

Mission has been presented many times, in flyers, statements etc… But it doesn’t attract many new members, even among former Imcs, and doesn’t mobilize much, even members. It is a too theoretical top down document. Aside with the global definition, mission should be presented by acts recognized as a useful service in a specific context. For example, what Kenyan movement did during political elections and why.

Generation renewal.

Probably the most important challenge, already discussed for many years. Younger generation needs to find places to be together and share their reflections with other generations, particularly for people in transition time, between student and professional life. This is a common challenge with our national movements.

Independent financing

Combined with HR projects, the current situation is financially sustainable: we made positive results after years of deficit. But we must be able to finance ourselves our basic activities including pastoral ones, through membership fees (very low compared to similar movements) plus individual contributions. But it can only work if members feel to belong to a community that deserves to be financially supported.

Relations with Church Structure

We feel happy, reinforced and challenged by the impulse given by Pope Francis. We had good relation with secretariat of state but no real relation with the Pontifical Council for Laity. We hope that the new structure in Holy See will offer new possibilities of fruitful cooperation.

Conclusion

These experiences can offer criteria for the roles of and structure of International Team in the future:
- Do we build a stronger community inside Pax Romana?
- Do we build a stronger relation with partners and with the Church?
- Are we rooted in a local challenging situation with global dimension?
- Are we mobilizing new committed people, in particular younger generation?
- Do we bring financial support or burden?
- Do we make our mission more visible outside?

                Then the role of the international council is to be vigilant on local challenging situations with global implications, to discern what needs to be supported, and to organize the worldwide PR solidarity around them.