Now we believe no longer because of what you told us;
we have heard him ourselves
and we know that he is indeed
the saviour of the world.
97. The plurality of fields of work, of cultures and of religious contexts, as well as the situations where we live amidst constant change are a continual source of challenges and stimuli to renew our Comboni methodology. It is this that determines how and with what means we carry out our missionary service.
A) Action and contemplation
98. In the concrete life of the missionary, being and doing are two dimensions that both challenge each other and fuse together constantly. In personal and community planning, we cultivate a contemplative vision of the apostolate and human development, and an apostolic vision of the whole spiritual journey, thus avoiding an uncontrolled activism and a disembodied spiritualism.
B) Ministerial action and collaboration
In the Comboni community
99. Various ministries interact in a complementary manner in the apostolic community.
99.1 The ministry of the Brothers is directed towards the “building up and growth of the human and Christian community” (RL 11.2) with particular attention to integral development, justice and peace and human rights. Thus it is a ministry open mainly to social work, aimed at the transformation of society and the animation of the Christian community.
To reach this objective, the social ministry of the Brother requires both the characteristics of Comboni spirituality and the technical and methodological competence required to give an adequate professional and social service.
99.2 The ministry of the priests is directed mainly towards the birth, growth and animation of the Catholic community, through the service of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments.
The typical role of the priest is to enhance and co-ordinate the charisms present in the community, placing himself at the service of the integral salvation of the People of God (RL 11.1).
99.3 “The ministry of CLM is a sharing in the missionary activity of the Church according to the charism of the Founder” (cfr. CA ’97, No. 83). Motivated by their faith in Christ and their belonging to the Church, they collaborate from within in the transformation of the secular realities through the values of the Kingdom of God (cfr. CA ’97, No. 87).
We collaborate in their promotion and formation, and we help them to achieve greater self-sufficiency.
99.4 After the example of Comboni, the community is called to enhance the role and the ministry of women, particularly with the Comboni Missionary Sisters and the Comboni Secular Missionaries (cfr. Letter: Collaboration for Mission, 2002).
99.5 For greater quality and efficacy of missionary life, it is essential for the service of authority to be characterised by these elements: a community discernment, attention to the multicultural wealth of the community, and the promotion of collaboration that guarantees both subsidiarity and shared responsibility.
100. In the ecclesial community
100.1 Our experience of the Gospel of Christ and the charism of Comboni in its motto: Save Africa with Africa continue to call on us to recognise the dignity of the local people as agents of their own evangelisation and the transformation of their society according to Kingdom values.
100.2 Thus we must increase our efforts so that the people, right from the beginning, may be fully involved, and share in the responsibility for all missionary activity.
100.3 Along the same lines, we must promote more decisively the local structures that train laity and pastoral agents for an increasingly professional participation in evangelisation and human development.
100.4 We want to operate on the basis of shared responsibility with the local Church communities, with movements and other organisations, to bring together and make more effective all the ministries for the Kingdom.
C) Mission and Economics
101. Economics is an important sector in human and missionary life. In a world dominated by neo-liberalism, economics is one of the sectors of life that is least evangelised. In order to give a more authentic witness, we commit ourselves to:
101.1 use our financial resources for the good of the mission and respecting Gospel values (RL 30, 162);
101.2 obtain adequate information to make a critical and ethical judgement;
101.3 avoid forms of complicity with an economic system that is often responsible for the gravest of injustices. Sometimes it becomes a duty to denounce such deadly mechanisms explicitly. In the Institute we do not accept the use of financial means that carry with them ethical problems;
101.4 animate committed and competent lay people that are able to give the lie to a system that proposes individual profit as an absolute value, and ignores the central position of the person and of the common good.
To bring about a culture of communion through sharing
102. The selfish use of material goods is an obstacle to living a community vision of mission. To respond to this challenge:
102.1 we support and encourage all forms of sharing of economic goods at all levels: community, provincial and the whole Institute;
102.2 we are in favour of the option of the Common Fund at provincial level, to pursue provincial objectives that result from a common discernment.
The Common Fund is both a choice and an attitude that, taking inspiration from the first Christian community (RL 27.3), demands the conversion of the heart and of lifestyle;
102.3 we are all committed to seeking the necessary means for our life and our missionary service;
102.4 at provincial and community level, we look for forms of local self-sufficiency, to reduce our dependence on help from outside, and indeed remembering that our work and the support of Providence are still the principal sources of support for our communities and activities;
102.5 we make options in the field of economics through community and provincial discernment, pastoral and technical evaluation, the real needs of the local Church and the criteria of evangelical poverty;
102.6 we look for criteria of transparency in the use of goods entrusted to us for the life of the Institute and for development projects;
102.7 we make a critical examination and evaluation of the quality of projects we promote, to favour a model of development that is sustainable and compatible with local resources.
103. In the face of consumerism of society, we renew our option for self-limitation in economic goods (RL 164), as an expression of our following of Christ. It translates into:
103.1 education in self-restraint and voluntary simplicity (RL 164);
103.2 a wise use of the new information technologies, going into global communication with a critical eye, using means that are proportionate to the local reality and pastoral needs;
103.3 a deep reflection on the possession and use of large and costly structures that, sometimes, may constitute a counter-witness.
Training and formation of personnel
104. To achieve the objective of a better service in this area, we stress the need:
104.1 for a broad initiative of OGF in the field of economics, with the aim to increase a sense of shared responsibility, the ability to read financial reports and to understand the important changes that are taking place in the Institute and in society;
104.2 for the training of personnel for the financial management of the Institute at both general and provincial levels.
Besides checking accounts, the Bursar will apply himself to the spiritual animation of the community by means of reflection on the topic of poverty and of solidarity, aiming for a more appropriate use of material means for the mission;
104.3 for an adequate formation, during the time of the scholasticate or International Brothers’ Centre, in the field of economics and the use of goods, to educate people in responsibility and transparency.
D) Missionary Animation
105. Through MA, which has always been an integral part of our identity (cfr. CA ’97, Nos. 95-106), we help the local Church to open out to the ad gentes missionary dimension, and we are instruments of communion and sharing among Churches (RL 72), as our Founder was right from the first.
105.1 We enrich our home Church with the cultural, religious and theological treasures and challenges that we have received from the Christian communities that we serve.
105.2 A concrete commitment for justice in the world is a constitutive part of mission (RM 58). Hence, MA includes prophetic attitudes of denunciation and of making alternative proposals.
105.3 We make use of the new technological opportunities that have sprung up in the field of social communications (magazines, radio, TV, Internet). The publication of numerous magazines and a presence in radio and TV lead us to make greater efforts to bring our means up to date.
105.4 The world of information technology merits special attention, considering the various possibilities in different parts of the world.
105.5 Looking out from the social reality in which we operate, we perceive the need to contextualise our MA, with an eye to the global dimension. In this process the Continental Councils of MA are the best tool for reflection among provinces and within the Continent.
105.6 MA is a service of Evangelisation, and fits into the catechetical process of every local Church.
105.7 In this sector there must be care to collaborate with missionary and vocational organisms, both diocesan and local, and to involve the laity as much as possible, both individuals and groups.
105.8 Daniel Comboni taught us that attention to benefactors and friends of our Institute is an important way of MA, and must not be neglected.
E) The local Church
106. We are part of a local Church and place ourselves at its service, enriching it through our charism, in an attitude of fidelity and to be a stimulus.
107. We take part in the pastoral project of the local Church, keeping pace with it, learning humbly from its experience and tradition, and paying greater attention to what it proposes to us.
108. The true missionary spirit asks us to take on evangelisation projects that can be carried on by the people; to assume a simpler lifestyle and do pastoral work with more modest means, thus avoiding structures and programmes that hinder the self-sufficiency of the community.
109. Each one of us recognises that his own experience of Christ is marked by his culture. This helps us to collaborate in the inculturation of the Gospel in other peoples, in the light of the mystery of the Word who became incarnate in a particular human setting.
110. The principal subject of this process is the local Church, which assimilates the Christ-event and re-expresses it in its own language, culture and religious forms. We are called to give firm support to those in the local Church who are committed in this direction.
111. Inculturation demands of us a commitment to the study of the local language and culture, with attitudes of esteem and respect.
112. As cross-cultural people, we are called to assist the discernment of values and counter-values of cultures in the light of the Gospel. This experience makes us grow as persons and as believers, and urges us to be instruments of exchange and of mutual enrichment between the various cultures in which we work.
G) Dialogue and proclamation in inter-religious contexts
113. Our faith in God who is Father of all humanity assures us that the Spirit of Christ goes before us and mysteriously guides the footsteps of all peoples (cfr. RM 28-29, 55).
They have developed a great variety of religious expressions, some more bound to a people (African Traditional Religions, Indigenous and Afro Religions in the Americas), and others with a more universal character (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism). Some elements found in these religious traditions are fruit of the presence of the Spirit of Christ (RM 56; AG 41).
Consequently, we proclaim the Gospel with an attitude of profound and respectful attention to the values and the concrete religious experiences of the people with whom we come into contact.
114. The experience of confreres who proclaim the Gospel in the religious contexts of Islam, of the East, of the traditional religions in Africa and America, challenges the Institute to dialogue and to rediscover the value of a proclamation that is based exclusively on the power of the Gospel.
115. We perceive the importance of continuing to specialise some confreres who can help us to develop adequate knowledge and attitudes with regard to the religious traditions of the peoples amongst whom we work (Islam, African Traditional Religions, other religious traditions, Theology of Dialogue, Anthropology).
116. In certain specific contexts, where the presence of the Church is in a tiny minority, educational institutions continue to be a potential for growth in the ability to dialogue, to be welcoming, and to live together.
H) Criteria of provisionality
117. We understand provisionality, which is an essential characteristic of missionary service (RL 71), as the fruit of programming that has concrete objectives, precise times and targets, in tune with the programmes of the local Church.
118. Such non-permanence requires a periodical and systematic evaluation of our commitments that keeps in mind the urgency of service in fields with greater need of our presence, the specific character of the charism of the Institute, and the good of individuals and of the Institute.
119. We must favour rotation strategies that make of our missionary presence an extended service to a reality that is loved and to which we are wed.
120. As a general criterion, we carry forward programmes and structures of evangelisation and of human development until such time as the local Church is able to take them on, even in a limited way.
I) Programming elements
121. The commitment to change our juridical identity from a Clerical to a Mixed Institute (RL 12) must continue.
122. In No. 11.2 of the RL, the phrase through the exercise of their professional work will be replaced by through the exercise of their specific ministry.
123. In view of the official request of Tangaza College (Nairobi – Kenya), the GC is asked to take over the management of the Social Ministry Institute within the next three years, in collaboration with other Institutes. The running should be entrusted to Brothers.
124. The Brother member of the PC should follow and animate the Brothers and maintain the necessary contacts with the Brother assistant general. In cases where there is no Brother on the council, the Brothers should, in agreement with the PC, choose a reference person.
Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM)
125. We confirm the validity of the reflection and the proposals of the last Chapter regarding the CLM (CA ’97, Nos. 82-94).
126. We express support to the central committee of the CLM in creating two pilot projects during the next six years, one in Africa and the other in America; and its proposal to call the fourth general assembly of the CLM in 2004.
Mission and finance
127. Following the guidance of the Code of Canon Law (CIC 1285; 1291) the MCCJ Institute must provide itself with a Patrimonial Fund, at both the level of Institute and of each province, so as to offer a certain financial guarantee.
127.1 The Fixed Patrimonial Fund (FPF) is defined in the Act that constitutes the province or delegation, and is made up of property that cannot be alienated, reduced or put at risk.
127.2 Any variation has to take place by the authority of the GC in dialogue with the province.
127.3 The Treasurer General and his Council is in charge of watching over the administration of the FPF of the provinces.
128. The Chapter sets, for the next six years, the ceiling for extraordinary expenses (A) and those for going into debt and the alienation of real estate (B) as indicated in the RL, No.170 (see Appendix No.1).
129. The Secretary General of MA must undertake the task of animating and coordinating the Continental Councils of MA regarding:
129.1 the formation of animators through courses at continental level, to ensure adequate training;
129.2 the specialisation of trained personnel in the field of mass media;
129.3 the drawing up of concrete plans for the dissemination of our magazines and the increase of subscriptions;
129.4 collaboration and the exchange of material between the various magazines.
130. In each province there must be at least one confrere engaged full time in the ministry of MA, and where possible, he should be the provincial secretary of the sector.
131. Centres of MA (CAM) must be supported with personnel and adequate means, and some should be opened where none exist.
132. The Missionary Animation Charter is to be brought up to date as a point of reference and a tool of continuity, for effective planning.