By François Becker
Regarding the Base Communities in France and in Europe, they are very diverse. Some are linked to parishes, other are independent. There exists a European coordination that aims at giving the opportunity to these communities to meet each other from time to time and exchange their experiences. Some communities have their own website or national website.
Part of the presentation of the coordination of Christian Base Communities that Massimiliano Tosato made for the Council 50 meeting:
Characteristics of Christian Base Communities (CBCs):
* Fraternity that lives within our communities would be good news for today in line with that of the early Christian communities: "See how they love one another."
* Jesus made community memory by sharing bread and wine.
* Community strives to be a place of democratic decision.
* Each of its members, according to its possibilities, to where he or she lives, sharing what he or she has and what it is for men and women live beyond any exclusion.
* This is from the basis that our communities are developing a theology for today in the equality of all the baptized.
* We can talk without being judged.
* We share our daily lives and together we seek how to resist oppression.
* We help each other and learn to live in brotherhood and sisterhood.
* The community is open to anyone in search.
"Recognizing and emphasizing first our bonds to our brother or sister and working to make it live… So, thinking fraternity leads us probably at the top of the humanization …Utopia, some might say. On the contrary, I believe, the supreme achievement of freedom." Yves Burdelot (member of a community, author of the book Devenir Humain. La Proposition Chrétienne Aujourd’Hui , Ed. du Cerf, 2002).
There are Base Communities in the following countries:
Austria: http://www.basisgemeinden-oesterreich.at/, Basque country
North Belgium: http://www.abelweb.be/
South of Belgium: https://sites.google.com/site/ccbwabru/
Czech Republic, France, Italy: http://www.cdbitalia.it/ ,
Switzerland (French-speaking): http://www.ccb.geneve-environs.ch/#ACCUEIL.Y
Switzerland (German-speaking: http://www.basisgruppen.ch/2001.html
A Short History of European Relations Between Grassroots Communities/CBC
The first contacts between European CBCs date back to 1983 during the Congress of the Amsterdam Dutch Communities on the theme: “Faith in Liberating Europe.” These contacts continued in 1985 during the congress of the Italian Base Communities in Turin with the theme: “European CBCs in the Liberation Struggles.”
It was during a congress held on 8-11 October 1987 in Bilbao, Spain with the theme “Evangelization and New Mechanisms of Oppression and Marginalization in Europe” that was constituted an "European group" whose task was to prepare the first "truly European" congress. It took place on 26-29 July 1991 in Paris with the theme: "Social Justice in Europe 1992. " More than 600 delegates from 28 nationalities participated.
This was followed by a series of three more modest "European Seminars:"
– in Innsbruck on 5-7 November 1993 with the theme: “What Directions for the Churches in a Pluralistic Society?”
– in Geneva on 30 November to 2 December 1995 with the theme: “Which Alternatives for CBCs in Today’s Europe?” (with 130 participants representing 14 countries and 18 regions, with the entire arsenal of secretarial and translation that entailed an extremely rich content).
– in Edinburgh, Scotland on 24-27 October 2003. This was the last seminar.
In May 2009, the European Christian Base Communities of countries and regions —members of the Coordination. Austria, Basque country, Belgium Flemish and Walloon, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland German and Romance organized a big meeting in Vienna, Akkonplatz with the theme: “Living the Faith Today. “This meeting was attended by 130 people including a representative of the European Network Church on the Move.
The last meeting of European CBCs took place in Buizingen (Belgium), from 19 to 21 September 2014 with the theme: “The Gospel Will Set Us Free.” It was attended by 140 people.
Regarding My Own Base Community: Christian Community in the City (CCC)
It was born in 1973 as a community with a “parish statute” recognized by the bishop of Paris. However, when the “restauration” to pre-council views came in, the parish statute was no longer given to the CCC. See the article of Mgr. Riobé, Bishop of Orleans, written in 1977. Several communities decided to continue their way of being in the spirit described by Mgr. Riobé. See the article published in the newspaper Le Monde (the CCC is one of the communities described). But many others disappeared and their members only had loose contact with the Catholic Church.
This is part of the “mystery” that our Pope is thinking at in “The Church that I Hope” (written by Pope Francis with the participation of Father Spadaro): "The arduous mystery of people leaving the Catholic Church. This is the mystery of all those who feel that now the church cannot offer anything significant or important. Why? Maybe the church is appearing too weak, perhaps too far removed from their needs, maybe too poor to address their concerns, maybe too cold for them, perhaps too self-referential, perhaps too much a prisoner of rigid language, perhaps/maybe that the world has made the church as a relic of the past, unsuited to new issues that arise, perhaps the church had answers for the childhood of humans, but not for their adulthood?" (Pope Francis in “The Church that I Hope,” page 97 in the French edition, Flammarion, Paris Etudes, Paris December 2013).
Since then we continue to meet together and celebrate together. Some of us have responsibilities in their parish, some of us are priests, some others took some distance with the hierarchy. For some others our community is their only link with the church (People of God), but we all are walking with Jesus on the track of our humanization. Hence of our salvation, helping each other and deepening our faith with the help of theologians, particularly Father Joseph Moingt, S.J.
There are various articles presenting the CCC and explaining what we are living together. Unfortunately, all these articles are in French.
There are also very active Ecclesial Base Communities in Latin America. Sister Socorro Martinez Maqueo who attended the Council 50 gathering in Rome spoke on these communities (see http://www.council50.org/pdf/library/latinamericatalkc50_en.pdf)
Developing contacts between the different communities to learn from each other is certainly important.
Secretary General of the European Network Church on the Move
Coordinator of the Global Council Network