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Challenges to elect the General Council

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August 28, 2015

comboniREFLECTION - “To be a team with an impact, the leadership is not sufficient to consist of five people, though bonded by serene mutual acceptance and sound communication. There should be diversification of competence and skills dovetailed with the pluralistic challenges that mission/evangelization and the internal life of the Institute displays. For sure, the presence of two Brothers would remarkably enrich and diversify the General Council with great opening to the social dimension which includes not only brothers but many sisters, and the bulk of the lay missionary movement as well”, writes Fr. Francesco Pierli who was Superior General from 1985 to 1991.

“In Evangelization/Mission there are today two constitutive dimensions: the religious and the social. The first one aims at deeply implanting and cementing in human hearts the faith in Jesus for personal and holistic conversion. The sacraments deal a lot with this dimension according to the different stages of human life, so that the local churches may be solidly established. Whereas the social dimension aims at the social impact of faith so that Evangelization may be socially transformative to do way with and liberate from all types of social sins and sinful structures at human and environmental levels.”
 

All MCCJ hope that the XVIII Chapter would be an exceptional occasion for a new missionary impetus in the Institute, a kind of quantum leap. The election of the new leadership will be a crucial component of it. Let me share a few suggestions for the choice of the new General Council.

Person centred, joyful and daring leaders

One day, a confrere told me that he would vote for a certain person as new provincial. When I asked the reason for the choice, he told me that his decision was based on the fact that the chosen: prayed with devotion, wore the alb for Mass and knew the Rule of Life almost by heart. I commented that I was looking for: a saint, not a “santino” (in Italian this word – meaning small saint – has both a diminutive and a pejorative meaning). The “santino” is the one who transforms the Good News in laws, in canons, in rubrics and becomes a slave of them. Scribes and Pharisees were “santini”. The Pharisees turned everything into prescriptions; they had 613 of them plus 1521 prohibition for the Sabbath alone!. Jesus distanced himself immensely from such a mindset and attitudes: Sabbath was made for human beings, not humans for the Sabbath (Mk 2.27).

The saints were never encapsulated into legalistic and bureaucratic systems. Let us remember Daniel Comboni, Oscar Romero, Ezechiele Ramin. Pope Francis seems to move in this direction. We need bold inspiration, new horizons, innovative initiatives, beyond the logic of statistics and economic profit. Don Tomba the successor of Don Nicola Mazza was fearful and withdrawn; for a missionary of the calibre of Comboni there was no option but to leave them. He was brimming over with paresia, that is apostolic boldness! (Ac 4.31).

Evangelization: the religious and the social dimensions

In Evangelization/Mission there are today two constitutive dimensions: the religious and the social. The first one aims at deeply implanting and cementing in human hearts the faith in Jesus for personal and holistic conversion. The sacraments deal a lot with this dimension according to the different stages of human life, so that the local churches may be solidly established. Whereas the social dimension  aims at the social impact of faith so that Evangelization may be socially transformative to do way with and liberate from all types of social sins and sinful structures at human and environmental levels.

Paul VI, after journeys in Latin America, Africa and Asia, shocked by daunting dehumanizing living conditions of the very high majority of human beings gave a tremendous impulse to the Social Teaching of the Church with Populorum Progressio (1967), Octogesima Adveniens (May 1971), Justice in the World (October 1971) and with Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975). Pope Frances seems to share the same vision; in Evangelii Gaudium, the longest chapter (Chapter IV) is about: the social dimension of Evangelization. Social attention is even more forcefully instilled by Pope Frances in Christian communities and in the world at large, with the social encyclical: Laudato Si’ on the care of our common home. Let me now draw a conclusion at level of General Council. If the leadership of the Institute should be at the service of Evangelization in all its dimensions, I would forcefully state that the presence of only one brother in the General Council is utterly insufficient to accompany and boost the social dimensions of evangelization. The more so, since all heads of secretariats in the Curia are priests. I do strongly believe that two brothers would be far better. It would send out a clear message that the Combonians take holistic Evangelization very seriously. It might have a snowball effect on the vocations promotion of the bothers as well.

Complementary competence and diversification

It is commonly agreed that the geographical element should have no bearing on the missionary world anymore! What about the General Council? To be a team with impactful Leadership is not sufficient to be in five, though bonded by serene mutual acceptance and sound communication. There should be diversification of competence and skills dovetailed with the pluralistic challenges that mission/evangelization and the internal life of the Congregation display. For sure, the presence of two brothers would remarkably enrich and diversify the General Council with great opening to the social dimension which includes not only brothers but many sisters, and the bulk of the lay missionary movement as well. The presence in the General Administration of the several secretariats does not suffice to assure diversified leadership; the secretariats operate at the level of management and administration and not at level of leadership and governance. What the MCCJ are insufficient at, this is my personal conviction, is not at level of administration and management but of leadership, discernment and guidance. There is insufficient vision, inspiration, drive, enthusiasm with a dramatic fall of hope.


Pierli Francesco

Source: Comboni.org. August 24, 2015

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