ICMICA as a global movement, greetings to young professionals by Ana Maria Bidegain, ICMICA International President
Warmest greetings to our dear brothers and sisters in Africa, from the Americas and the Caribbean, where I am. As I am sure you know, we are a global community that today, thanks to technology, can communicate with greater ease and thus strengthen the common bonds that unite us. We are Catholic professionals and intellectuals from all continents; therefore, we are an intercultural and diverse community, but united by our experience of faith in the message of Jesus.
From this common base, we think and act on concrete issues that affect the realities where we live and the church. We want to be faithful to the message of Jesus that cries out for justice in a reality marked by enormous economic, social, racial, political, and cultural inequalities, but we know and feel that we are sons and daughters of God, created in his image.
United in this brotherhood, we know that we must approach the most impoverished and lacking in education, health, housing, and work, who are also our brothers and sisters, so that together with them we may seek to change this reality, even if some say that we must resign ourselves to it, because it is a reality that is not willed by God. Therefore, it is a reality of sin and together we must look for options that allow us to change it.
This community did not begin with us, but for 100 years students from many corners of the world, and for 75 years, Catholic professionals and intellectuals have been making this journey. Often these people, gathered in small communities of equals, use a method, a spiritual path that allows us first to see and analyze the reality that surrounds us and to understand the challenges that following Jesus implies in the historical circumstances in which we must live and give witness with our own actions by participating in the academic, political, social, economic, and cultural life in which each one of us lives. Sharing our experience helps us to clarify the deep motivations, the spiritual reasons that give meaning to our life choices and to our commitment and integration in society.
Therefore, it is important to reflect critically on our actions, the ways we find to face Christian practice and to be able to let ourselves be challenged by the need for coherence between the proposal of Jesus and the life of each one of us. Because of this, we know that, in this way, by this constant search for the following of Jesus, changes in attitudes and mentalities are provoked a real individual conversion and, in the whole, a cultural change, a new style of life. This is the strength of our spirituality.
As I was saying, it is a path opened by students and professionals who preceded us and that the Second Vatican Council (1961-1965) validated and gave meaning to our experience, strengthened our ecclesial belonging and we found their recognition of these fundamental choices, which we have made as a movement. Today Pope Francis in Fratelli Tuti, the encyclical on fraternity and social friendship – strengthens us in this effort to live beyond the barriers of geography and space, he invites us as St. Francis of Assisi did, to love others, both those who are far away and those who are close to us.
We are aware and we want to be more and more aware of the challenges presented to us by the current reality marked by this third technological, industrial, and cultural revolution we call globalization, with the ecological disaster and the economic and social inequality that it has generated, and that has led to a very large part of the population to emigrate at the risk of their own lives. It is also a reality marked by a growing fragility of rights, the advance of authoritarianism and the confrontations and conflicts also religious. We are aware of the enormous cultural changes that demand new forms of family and couple relationships, as well as difficulties in professional life, both for those who are starting out in it and for those for whom economic and social transformations demand new directions. We recognize the local differences and diversities that bring us all these challenges and difficulties. But we know that, for this very reason, we need to strengthen the spiritual motivations and deepen the validity of the commitments we have assumed, which demand a depth and theological responses that are always renewed, marked by the realities in which we are living our faith, where our faith has been incarnated.
Our movement has also shown that strength and maturity to renew theology and open new pastoral paths for the church. Today, as yesterday, we must continue to make this contribution and look for new options that help each one of us to live our lives in fullness and with meaning based on our fundamental spiritual options.
Strengthening and expanding our global community will be possible today if all the continents are walking together and that is why I want to tell you that without you, without Africa, with its problems, but above all its millenary culture and wisdom, we will never be able to be a truly global community. At the same time Africa needs to strongly express its uniqueness so that this global reality, which is being built, also strengthens its local communities.
That is why the work and presence of Jules in the World Council of Pax Romana and Maria in the coordination of the movement in Africa, is so important to strengthen these ties and I thank them for their commitment and courage. I also commit myself to be attentive, to listen to all that I must learn from you.
So, please, receive my warmest greetings and my invitation to walk to strengthen ourselves individually, as local communities and as a global community.
By Ana Maria Bidegain, ICMICA International President