Approval of the new region MRE
1. Some historical points
When the regional conferences began to meet officially in 1966, the superiors of the Italian monasteries, not numerous enough to constitute a Region by themselves, after some dialogue – in fact their names are found as invited guests at the 1966 meetings of FSO [France South and West] – associated themselves with the monasteries of Spain, thus giving rise to the ITALO-SPANISH REGIONAL CONFERENCE. The abbots and the abbesses held their meetings separately, in two distinct Conferences, a system which continued until 1979. However, because of the geographical distance, the difference of language and of traditions, the Italian monasteries did not find in this group the possibility of adequate expression and identity, not being involved enough in the discussion of matters concerning the diverse situations of the Spanish monasteries and superiors. So, from 1980, while continuing to participate in the Regional Conferences of the Spanish Region for the discussion of juridical questions, the Italian superiors began to meet in a MIXED ITALIAN SUB-REGION, to discuss together, at the pastoral level, their specific problems. In 1982, the Spanish Region recognised and accepted the constitution of the Italian sub-region, at the time when we were moving in the direction of mixed regional conferences. The Mixed Italian Region (RIM) – composed of four monasteries and one annexe house – which was definitively approved by the General Chapters of 1990 [cf. minutes, session of 20 September (GCf 58 yes, 0 no, 2 abst. – GCm 81 yes, 3 no, 3 asbt.)]. In this small group there was room for an articulation particularly expressive of the Italian communities, and this gave the meetings a strongly pastoral character, appreciated by all. The small number of superiors and the geographical closeness also made it easy to have a considerable number of delegates present (two for each monastery), favouring the direct involvement of our communities and a greater reciprocal knowledge. From 1992 the superior of Engelszell, duly authorised by the President of the CNE (Central North Europe Region), began to participate in our meetings, at first as an invited guest, then from 1993 as a full member, for reasons of language.
From the outset in 1990, because of its small number of members, the RIM renounced the possibility of having its own representative at the Central Commissions, and it has been represented there by one of the Abbot General's Councillors who participated in its meetings. Furthermore, it has been able to make its presence known in the Order by sending the minutes of its meetings (translated into the three main languages of the Order) to all the communities. According to its Statutes, the RIM has, from the outset, a characteristic structure and organisation: its primary goal is the animation of the communities, fraternal rapport between the houses of the region, and their involvement in the life of the Order. The communities participate by preparing for every meeting, dialoguing on basic themes relative to monastic life, in such a way that the really vital problems can emerge, be heard, be elaborated in reflection which is not just superficial, to promote progress and growth in spiritual and cultural renewal. The primary aim which we have always set for ourselves is pastoral, with the growth of our communities in mind. A pastoral relevance, understood not just as discussion of difficult cases or discernment about the more problematic situations, but placing the emphasis on basic questions which are at the root of both big and small everyday problems. This emphasis on the pastoral dimension has been experienced as a reflection on our identity and what it involves: we have come together to help each other, ourselves and our communities, to muse on contemporary and perennial monastic life; to reflect on ourselves as monks and nuns; to learn to consider and to express our identity and to enable us to become Word of Life and Good News; also to animate and involve the communities in this work. To us, monks and nuns, belongs once again the duty of profound evangelisation to rebuild the fabric of Christian life, a new awareness of the faith.
For a certain number of years, the experience of the RIM was very enriching from all points of view: the diversity of the monasteries of which it was composed, the different histories and traditions, the presence of people very valuable for their capacity for reflection and for going deeper into things, or for their long experience of monastic life, gave life to the dialogue and encouraged debate and exchange between all the participants. The subjects we chose to deal with were close to our lived experience; they were also developed by the contribution of various conferences by experts on the subject, conferences which were then shared with the various houses. The themes, subjects of dialogue in community, helped in the development of common thinking. With time, although the experience continued to be largely positive, difficulties arose which risked compromising the dynamic of the little group. At first, we thought of bringing into the RIM the superiors of other Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries which are in Italy. But this step, precisely because of the scantiness of the group, would have changed the specific identity of our meetings. It was then that we welcomed with great interest the proposal, which arose during the MGM of 2002 and was confirmed as a project later during the Regional meetings of 2003 and 2004, of enlarging the RIM into a Mediterranean Region.
2. From RIM (Italian Mixed Region) to MRE (Mediterranean REgion)
Those members of FSO (France South and West) who have already participated in two meetings of RIM (2003 and 2004) found the experience of meetings with a smaller number of participants very interesting. The contribution of monasteries in Israel, Lebanon and Morocco was also apparent, particularly during the exchange on separation from the world, lived differently than in Europe. The members of FSO identify with the objectives, the working method and the structure of the RIM, and they wish, in forming a new region with the Italian monasteries, to prioritize and preserve the pastoral approach in the service of the communities.
At the end of the RIM/REM Regional meeting in Vitorchiano in October 2004, it was decided that each superior of the RIM or coming from FSO would consult his or her community by vote, to determine their membership or not of a new entity which would be the Mediterranean Region (MRE). The following communities opted to belong to a new region (RME), provided that this region is accepted by the General Chapter:
9. Syria (pre-foundation of Valserena)*
10. Czech Republic (foundation of Vitorchiano)*
11. Tre Fontane
+ Viale Africa
Therefore we propose the following votes:
1. We agree that the monasteries of the Italian Mixed Region and other monasteries, principally from FSO, will form a new mixed region MRE (Mediterranean Region).
YES NO ABS
2. In accordance with Statute 81.B of the Constitutions of the monks and nuns, each branch of the mixed regional conference MRE will be represented by a superior at the Central Commission, and may send a non-superior delegate to the General Chapter.
YES NO ABS
3. The new region RME may function as such from the time of its approval during the present General Chapters.
YES NO ABS