Daniel Guéry, president 2001 – 2008

 

 

There are several ways of reporting on one or more terms as president of an international movement. I have chosen to do it by bearing witness. In fact, more than through a national movement, the responsibility we have agreed to experience in MIAMSI takes us further, to an awareness of the universality of the Good News of the Gospel and the catholicity of our Church.

Witness to a very rich life in the movement

Having chaired MIAMSI after the Fiuggi Congress, it was impossible to forget the realities of national member movements expressed so enthusiastically at the 2000 Jubilee. Inheriting a strong message, our 2000 – 2004 board made a point of giving a positive and constructive follow-up to these global dynamics.

It was because the national movements and regional boards reviewed their commitment during this conference that it was easier to take over from a team marked by the tragic death in Guadalajara of Brigitte Devaux, the 1996 President-elect.

What struck me most during my years in office was is the variety of ways MIAMSI implements its insights. Every country and continent, according to its people’s history and how the gospel has been received, is seeking the best way to develop its teams’ lives and the relationship between faith and life: the fight against poverty in Latin America, management training in Africa, working on changing attitudes in Europe, the Christian presence in the Middle East constantly renewed, so many ways to implement the proposed MIAMSI approach.

Global MIAMSI dynamics are nothing but the collection of dynamic national movements, orchestrated by the Continental Boards that give them the emphasis required within the framework of an international vision. These are national/international exchanges that feed our General Assemblies and our presence in international institutions like the UN and the Council of Europe. We have a clear example with the issue of migration. It was the source of a General Assembly topic (Malta 2008), survey topics, interventions at the UN …

Witness to a real life in the church

From the first meetings of the International Board, I experienced the life of the Church, namely a fraternal sharing which, without being sentimental, aims to be at the service of the mission received from our predecessors and elders: the feeling of being a link in a long chain that goes way beyond us. And what characterizes this exchange is not just the sympathy for each other, but belonging to Christ and the taste for missionary work that animates us all.

To reflect the richness of the Church’s life I actually encountered, I must mention the numerous initiatives taken by local teams as well as visits to various communities with which national movements are linked. Unity in diversity is really experienced within MIAMSI and beyond. It is very difficult and delicate to share this experience, but I can attest that the Christian groups in Latin America have the same evangelical passion as those in sub-Saharan Africa or old Europe!

The joy of believing expressed during the meetings of the Indian Ocean islands is every bit as good as the Middle East: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father!

During the two terms of my presidency I witnessed, and directly experienced, real collaboration between ordained ministers and the laity. This experience took many forms, beginning with support from the international chaplain. But it also happened all the national chaplains, bishops and apostolic nuncios of the countries visited, their attention, advice and support during the General Assemblies have always been most valuable!

One of the highlights of the 2000/2004 and 2004/2008 terms was the type of canonical status that we had to choose and apply for to the Holy See: the dialogue with the Pontifical Council for the Laity (CPPL) was very easy, respectful of MIAMSI insights as they were made by M.L. Monnet. The new articles (Private International Association of Lay Faithful – see 1983 Canon Law) are the result of extensive exchanges of views within the movements themselves, the Boards and the International Boards, in constant contact with the Holy See. Community life taken seriously within the Church, effective recognition of the strength of baptism!

This collaboration with the Holy See was flawless throughout the two terms served, both as part of preparing regional meetings and in support, including financial support, of initiatives taken by our international movement.

Witness to the relevance of the Good News of the Gospel

According to the continent, one purpose is perceptible: respecting and upholding the dignity of the individual as created in God’s image.

In the various missionary visits I was able to make worldwide, I was always been welcomed as a brother. But beyond the personal greeting, what will always stand out for me is the speed with which the meetings addressed the issue of coherence between faith and life. So, whether we were Europeans or Africans, Syrians or Seychellois, what mattered was how to take on our responsibilities while respecting each individual, serving society, in dialogue with those who can change ways of thinking and develop social ties.

I could cite many examples, but perhaps the Citizen Forum 2 in Cotonou and visits to Beirut and Damascus represent all my meetings: awareness and training on the Church’s Social Doctrine for the African meeting and the desire to show a Christian presence in the world for teams in the Middle East.

– In Africa, I could feel the desire to embrace the Christian vision of man, ways of implementing the beatitudes offered by our church through its social teaching: all ways to live intensely and to practise their faith in the world. It is indeed a matter of promoting Man’s rights and development in all its dimensions, because of being created in God’s image. Whenever He is diminished, just as whenever He is respected, it is Jesus who is concerned. This is our faith, this is the source of our commitment.

As for the concern to show our belonging to Christ, the pride of being a Christian, this witness borne in society, are issues that often drive exchanges in the movement teams in the Middle East. I have repeatedly been a witness to that. But this witness issue is also evident in other MIAMSI movements! It is also at the centre of current concerns in international institutions that give predominance to intercultural and interfaith dialogue.

In a conversation with Paul VI, Marie Louise Monnet spoke of people with great responsibilities. The Holy Father replied. “The Church needs them to perform their important responsibilities as Christians, and that is what will make them happy “.

I think I can say that during my terms of office, I met people trying to meet their various commitments in a Christian life, happily, though not necessarily easily!

50 years after its birth, MIAMSI still puts many people on the road, aware of their mission in a complex world, giving the Gospel message a concrete face, engaging with society in a fruitful dialogue so that the dignity of each individual might be preserved! For this, the Independent Milieus have special strengths and talents to freely offer.

 

News
Photos