Here we are at our last number of Eur-News, n. 13, a long way travelled together since 1 July 2002, when we thought of being linked-up by this newsletter. Seven years, from the vigil of the XVI General Chapter until the preparation for the XVII Special Chapter. In these newsletters we find the echo of all that we have experienced at the Institute’s level, including new problems handed down to us by the General Chapter.
- Motions of the 2008 General Assembly for Treasurers in Pesaro. The motions proposed and approved during our General Assembly have completed their institutional procedure and have been published. The Provincial Superiors studied and approved them in their continental meetings and the General Council has thus decided to proceed with their publication on the information means of the Institute, the MCCJ BULLETIN, as indicative and reference points for all the provinces.
- General Directory for Finances. The General Council has asked the Provincial Superiors to give their opinion also on the suggested changes to the General Directory for Finances (GDF) proposed by the treasurers and has approved the needed changes. The new edition will be published soon and become effective at the time of its publication. Why haven’t we waited for the work of our next XVII General Chapter? Because these changes were conclusions already expressed in the orientations of the XVI General Chapter. Future proposals will be put into practice, tested, discussed, evaluated and, at the end of the process, become norms for the Directory.
For your knowledge, I can say that what has been codified were the guidelines approved by the GC during their six-year period and all that was already Comboni praxis, as long as these were supported by the Chapter’s indications.
The economic guidelines mentioned in the document: “Saint and capable missionaries” (Code of Conduct) were already approved by the authority of the document itself. In the GDF has been reinstated the obligation of joint signatures in bank and procure accounts, fixing the limit to € 50.000 for the general administration.
It is also normal practice that the accounts deposited with the Comboni procures are to be managed by the provincial or delegation treasurers. Amounts in the name of confreres or particular works are to be authorised by the competent provincial superior.
- Provincial Balance Report 2008. I thank and congratulate all the treasurers who have used the balance form requested by the treasurer general, and who have done so in time to submit it to the General Treasury Council. The new balance form, which was presented and explained in the Assembly of the treasurers, is useful first of all to the treasurers, to “know” the situation of the communities in detail and to be able to intervene where it’s necessary. Moreover, it is a useful system to arrange all the provincial data and to get an overall idea of the situation of the Institute.
Generally speaking, we can say that Divine Providence has well looked after the greatest majority of our provinces, even if there are difficulties and the balance is maintained only by steadfast vigilance and the collaboration of all.
- Financial Crisis 2008. In 2008 we experienced the financial crisis you have all heard about at various times and whose consequences you all know, even perhaps in a personal way. Those who had savings invested in various ways, have more easily suffered from direct losses, not only with regard to the capital but also with regard to the variation in the exchange rate or otherwise. Out of 32 circumscriptions, only 12 did not register such losses, namely a third of the circumscriptions. Obviously more than half of the losses affected the European provinces, a quarter those in America and a thirteenth those in Africa. The total of the losses is frightening: about 12 million dollars, 11% of the capitals managed by the Comboni Missionaries in the world. May I make a simple moralizing remark? If these amounts have been put aside, it means that these were not so necessary for our direct activities. This crisis, then, reminds us of the ethical principles we have been repeating for years. First of all, we have to apply the principle that the offerings we receive are intended for a missionary purpose, in other words that these offerings have to serve for our evangelisation in a direct way and without much delay, namely for programmes already planned. The guideline of the superavit has to be respected at all levels. Secondly, the investments have to be made in a prudent way and not only oriented towards the immediate and highest gain: no one gives us interests just because we are missionaries, but all are after our capital for their interests, which often clash with those of God’s Kingdom.
- Balance Report 2008. The Balance Report 2008 of the General Administration is about to be published and sent out to all the provincial superiors and treasurers. The purpose of posting it and of sending it around, in spite of the difficulties of the distances, is to provide greater transparency and knowledge concerning the Institute, also concerning this aspect. Each treasurer should make use of his capacity to read economic reports in order “to see” the Institute also from this viewpoint. It would be good to use the first opportunity, like during a provincial assembly, to present some relevant economic points to all the confreres.
- I am still working on the economic data of this six-year period to present a report to the next General Chapter. It will be interesting to notice the differences from 2003 to 2009 and to see the variations under all the headings of expenses and income. Six years do not seem much, but the differences hit you. I hope you will have the opportunity to take a look also at this document.
- At the end of this fairly long service as treasurer general, allow me to share with you the motivations that have supported me and which, I hope, are supporting you. Too easily we dwell on the difficulties and barrenness of our work, which, if we should take them simply in its daily aspect of mathematical operations, travels, industriousness and the know-how we have to exercise, it would really be a punitive work compared to the beauty of evangelisation, understood in its pastoral aspect, contact with people, especially if the latter are nice and simple, and perhaps with a great opinion of self. I have experienced this service, and continue to do so, whatever service I will be asked to do in the future, to concretely say a word of God on our Comboni life. The reflection on the lifestyle, the justifications and appeals to evangelical poverty and the spirit of sharing are nothing but an exercise of the prophetic spirit that is ours, to make present in our life the Kingdom of God. A barren speech? There are worse situations in our Comboni missionary experiences, but these are also great opportunities for missionary witnessing. I hope that we shall always be united in this journey and mission.
I greet and thank you all for the collaboration you have given me during these years of service together. The General Council has finally given me my destination: Congo! After the General Chapter, or rather as from January 2010, I will be a member of the Congo province and available for any destination the Provincial Council of Congo will send me to. I hope that it will be offered me the possibility of a period of insertion after 16 years of absence from a country and a province that have undergone a total change. But I also know that the needs are many, therefore… here I am!
Fr. A. Lwanga Guarda