Aid to the Church in Need's New Leader (Part 1)

Interview With Secretary-General Pierre-Marie Morel

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By Isabelle Cousturié



KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, APRIL 29, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Being the secretary-general of Aid to the Church in needs requires a variety of professional skills, but most of all, it requires love, says the charity organization's new leader.

Pierre-Marie Morel took the role of secretary-general at the Germany-based aid organization in January. In this interview with ZENIT, he speaks of the challenges of the job, as well as the challenges the Church faces in this new millennium.

Part 2 of this interview will be published Wednesday.

Q: You studied economics and have carried out leadership roles in important international companies. How do you feel now being in this post?

Morel: One must continue being realistic and balanced. At age 60, I am at the end of my career and it is completely normal that I would have occupied diverse and varied posts. What is interesting, on the other hand, is to see how the Lord prepares us.

The various ecclesial and pastoral activities that my wife, Anne, and I have carried out in the Church, and especially over the last 25 plus years within the Emmanuel Community, have made us grow in a spirit of service and openness.

Finding myself in this post fills me with joy because it brings me to attain a unity between my faith and my professional life. The responsibility of the task, nevertheless, invites me to faithfully meet the Lord in prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Regarding the position of secretary-general, it is an office that should bring together various skills, such as the use of new technologies, finances and people management. The unique element of a position like this is that it also requires a great love for the Church and abandonment to the Holy Spirit. Beyond our professional skills, which are indispensable, our principal task is to love -- and that's never easy.

Q: Is your international experience in the field of multinational business management a plus or a different way of conceptualizing the aid to Churches that are persecuted, victims of discrimination, or too poor to fulfill their pastoral mission?

Morel: My roles in IBM or EADS were extremely varied and 12 years living outside my country have helped me to learn about the phenomena of globalization in different cultures. ACN is an ecclesial work, and thus has a universal vocation. If at the beginning, it was oriented toward the persecuted Church behind the Iron Curtain, today the situation is very different, and the requests for aid come from bishops from every continent.

The discernment of the pastoral projects passes through the filter of the local dioceses, which prepare the documents requesting aid. Then, a team of experts carries out a new discernment process in light of the priorities of the Holy See and also the financial possibilities of the work. The secretary-general and the president approve the distribution of the budgets set aside for the various parts of the world and the most important projects.

In the solidarity at the level of pastoral projects, there is a double movement. The stories that are in the closing reports of a project, with their testimonies, revitalize our own often-lukewarm Christian communities. Thus the generosity and the prayer of the benefactors are enriched by the gift of joy and testimony.

See, in the face of all the suffering of the Church, one can only give the Lord the grace of joyful hope and humility.

Q: Aid from ACN responds to the needs of the local churches that suffer most, or that are most deprived. What is the tendency of needs around the world? Are the requests increasing, even from churches in countries where, we could say, everything was going fine before? And in your opinion, what is the cause of this situation?

Morel: To begin with, the Iron Curtain has fallen, and the situation of the world and the Church continues evolving in contrasting ways.

Where the Church is persecuted, there is great suffering, but one of the fruits of this suffering is that it often gains in strength, size and sanctity.

Paradoxically, where Western secularization seems to make everything possible, the Church tends to be weaker and the suffering is of a different kind. Is it because status and the worship of money cause a separation from fundamental values? Is it because the Western cultural revolution, as Marguerite Peeters says, is one of the most effective social engineering mechanisms of globalization and apostasy?

Gender ideology has probably not finished playing havoc with our Western world, but it can also touch countries previously protected in Africa or Latin America. So we should form ourselves so as not to fall into the traps of anthropological deconstruction planned by this ideology.

A recent development refers to billions of babies killed before birth, ever since laws have authorized this. The family is ridiculed, responsible maternity and paternity are disgraced, society as a whole has become fragile because of the liberalization of customs, and laws now assure the promotion of what was recently still recognized in our civil codes as inciting corruption.

So, yes, the needs of the Church are going to evolve and, besides the urgent requests that come to us from around the world, it is to be expected that the requests for a new evangelization increase from the Western world.