I had uploaded Henk's report in Dutch which most of us don't understand so I now attach a translation in English.
European Grassroots Communities Meeting
Collectif Européen des Communautés de Base
Lyon (France) -14,15,16 october 2022
Lyon doesn't feel that far away and of course I go by train. About 12 noon from home and really arrived at the address at 9pm. Including finding the Metro and walking. We stayed in a big Don Bosco house and overlooked Lyon with a Roman amphitheatre on our doorstep. We could have done worse. Little do I know then that the return journey will be fraught with major obstacles. There is another meal waiting for us that we can heat up ourselves in a microwave oven. So it's good to get home. We are 7 delegates (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, but actually 8 because Belgium is of course in two,
one for the Flemish speakers and the other for the Walloons. We have not been together for a long time because of the pandemic and it is good to exchange intensively how everyone is doing. What stands out in this? In general, the age is increasing and the capacity to organise things is decreasing.
Remarkably, in retrospect, the Austrian delegate called the pandemic a lucky thing. They actually had much more contact, exchanged all kinds of things via zoom and they did so more often than in normal times. People shared each other's loves and sorrows much more intensively. But a lot also went on in other countries, especially Dutch communities jumped out by streaming quite quickly, reaching much more audience in that period. But that too is now declining. There have also been covid casualties in communities. Particularly in Italy. Almost nowhere is there still a really fruitful relationship with the RC hierarchy. In Belgium there is still some connection through the (RK) Interdiocesan Pastoral Council, and in the Netherlands the movement has a fairly solid position in the Council of Churches. But ecumenism in many other countries is pretty substandard. I even had to explain what the Council was. People have heard of the World Council.
Spain and Italy stand out in terms of the number of communities. 40 in Spain and about the same number in Italy. The Netherlands 23 according to 2of3 Bijeen's website. The Swiss still seem to have the most attachment to the RC, not least because they have been very busy with the synod and submitted many texts in Rome. Especially around the position of women. The conclusion is that everyone just moves on and sentiment regarding the RC Church is off, despite appreciating the Pope. Many grassroots communities mean so much to members that people carry on with each other until they really can't go on physically.
The concern for the future was particularly evident in trying to identify what theme to tackle now for a major European gathering in 2024. What is needed now and in 2024? Spirituality appeared to be the catchword. A new spirituality is needed in response to the current way of life. Better formulated an integral spirituality is needed. The conviction arose that religiosity and spirituality can play an important role in our society and thus help people, because we are convinced that spirituality helps people develop more capacity for helping others and thus make life happier.
The philosophy behind this is "integral spirituality". A spirituality that is open to all views on life, both religious and human. This includes that one's own philosophy of life is not superior to that of another. We assume that people develop and live their personal spirituality according to their culture, upbringing, experiences, the development of their consciousness and their current state of mind. The grassroots movement is for engaging with those philosophies of life that do not think they hold the truth. This thesis and question will be returned to the communities and the delegates will meet in Brussels in July 7,8 and 9, 2023 to think about a programme interpretation for a big meeting in Rimini (Italy) in late September early October in 2024.
My train was cancelled due to a strike in France and I had to return a day early, with an overnight stay in Brussels, as it was too late to continue. You notice that almost all the systems we have invented are cracking.