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Meeting of the CIAL Economes

On Monday, December 20, the provincial and regional treasurers of the CIAL met with the general econome, Nacho Moreno, and the coordinator of the CIAL, René Cabezón, via zoom. Also present were: Paulo Abreu (Brazil), Pedro Diaz (Mexico), Brian Cruz (Andean), Magin (Chile-Argentina), Gustavo Van Humbeeck (Paraguay) and Jean Blaise Mwanda for the general government. The agenda had been sent out previously and during the three hour meeting the questions on some of the topics that have been worked on since January 2021 were addressed. The two areas that were dealt with were the functioning and transparency in the Congregation and the care of the body of the Congregation.

On the first major topic, we discussed the difficulties we have in the reporting of accounts and budgets. Sometimes they are due to being in different countries, with different systems and requirements. Sometimes the difficulties are due to errors in the transfer of data or on account of technical difficulties in accounting. There is also the factor that the culture of (some of) the brothers is not to put all the goods in common and submit accounts. It is necessary to have more control, something that is already happening in the provinces, and to follow the reports more closely. Some practices already initiated in the pandemic have been improved, there have been better accounting templates and more care is being taken in the reports and budgets. In general it seems good that the report of accounts to Rome should be expanded and that the manual for treasurers that we have should be reread. We could have some training sessions with the lay accountants and advisors so that they are clear about the plan of accounts of the Congregation. All the provinces have lay accountants; in some cases, as in Chile, this issue is being remodeled. They are competent people and they help a lot for the submitting of accounts to the public administration and also for the reports for the provinces and the Congregation. We should also count on them for advice and improvement in transparency.

It is worthwhile to mention our reflection on clericalism, of handling money and not accounting for it. It is necessary to take steps towards the transparency that is demanded in society from companies and individuals.  Parishes, schools, social works should not be an exception. Economic abuses can be reflected in other abuses, it is but a short step.

The second main topic was that of common investments, where there is no common policy. Two provinces see this as good and would like this to go deeper. Another Province does not see it as necessary and that local investments and contributions should be continued. Another Province thinks that it will be necessary to set up a common fund at the level of the continent to participate in this idea in a country that has security in the investments. There is a need for control and clarity in the management of money and to have ethical and evangelical oversight in respect of our investments,

Finally, Jean Blaise commented on the celebration of the next Enlarged General Council, where the relationship between mission and economy, two topics that cannot be separated, will be discussed. Nacho commented on the work that will be sent to the Congregation resulting from the work already begun. René closed the meeting by commenting that this meeting puts into practice what is mandated by the statutes of the CIAL to bring the treasurers together between assemblies, but that in these times technology allows us to meet more often to better follow the topics we are working on. We all wished each other a Merry Christmas and all the best for the coming year.