In the meeting of 7-8 March the Commissions and individual chapter members submitted a total of forty-one questions These were answered by the Rector Major and the Councillors. The results of this dialogue are available on the sdb.org.
The questions covered a wide range of topics, and they led to a realistic and confident picture. “It is precisely by looking at the statistics that I am optimistic, given the trend in other Congregations and the positive letter that came from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic life. Besides, there are no signs of divisions, and if it is true that there is a decrease in vocations in one geographical area, there is a flourishing of vocations in another. I can identify problematic aspects but also signs of hope,” the Rector Major said.
Some of the replies were given by the Councillors of the different sectors. They help to give an overall vision of the Congregation worldwide.
There were repeated words of encouragement, urging the members to look to the future, to face up to the demands of pastoral conversion. This term was coined by the Fifth Latin American Episcopal Conference at Aparecida (May 2007) to describe a new pastoral approach to things, where a mission mindset prevails over administrative management of works and structures.
The relationship between Salesians and lay people was dealt with in the comparison between the past and prospects for the future: “Without the laity, consecrated life has no future. This is not a concession we are talking about, but their vocation and mission. (…) Unfortunately, not a few confreres see and feel the presence of the laity as a threat, because lay people oblige us to do what is properly ours to do: not administration and management, but an educative and pastoral presence.”
The GC27 itself suggested some starting points and asked: “Does it not limit things that a General Council be focused on just one theme? Do we need to draw up a thematic document or a six year plan?”
The Rector Major replied: “Rather than a single theme, it is a specific approach to the whole of the life and mission of the Congregation. The life of the Congregation is seen in the multiplicity of its dimensions and contexts. There is an overview from a particular point of view, in this case a radical gospel one. So we don’t tackle a single theme, because a Chapter is not a congress or symposium. What is at stake is the identity, energy and fruitfulness of the Congregation. Other choices have to be made, ones we consider to be more important and capable of unleashing the dynamics of change, without pretending to resolve all the challenges we have today. Good government says where the Congregation wants to go and, as a consequence, where to channel its energies.”
First Published by InfoANS