A century of struggle: International lay movements in a synodal Church

The twin Pax Romana movements – the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (ICMICA) and the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) – held a webinar on 17 September 2023 addressing the theme “Synod Asia: Together – Gathering the People of God in Asia.

The speakers were Fr Clarence Devadass, Director of the Catholic Research Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and myself.

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Here is the video of the webinar with Fr Clarence’s talk starting at 8.37 while mine starts at 31.52.


My talk is entitled “A century of struggle: International lay movements and the lay apostolate in a synodal Church.”

In it, I trace the development of the modern international Catholic movements and organisations (ICOs) from the beginning of the 20th century, the development of the world’s international institutions (the League of Nations and the United Nations), the emergence of international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and the difficult emergence of what became the International Catholic Organisations Conference (COIC).

I highlight the contributions those ICOs made at Vatican II through the “lay auditors” from those organisations and movements, as well as at the 1987 Synod on Laity.

Finally, I speak of the dissolution of the ICO Conference in 2008 and the negative impact I believe that it has had on the participation of lay movements in the current Synod on Synodality.

Let’s pray and work for change between now and the Second Assembly of the Synod in 2024!


Here also are the slides that go with the talk:

Direct link:

Stefan Gigacz, A century of struggle, Internationaly lay movements & the lay apostolate in a synodal Church

Thanks very much to the Pax Romana team for organising the event!

Stefan Gigacz