Pax Romana IMCS: 70 countries, 1 million members but not at the Synod

I’ve been impressed the last few days following the social media posts of the Pax Romana IMCS (International Movement of Catholic Students), who have just held their international general assembly in Chiang Mai, Thailand at the new International Youth Centre that the movement has built there.

It’s evidently a genuinely international body with a new leadership team mostly from the Global South. By the look of the movement’s website, I would suggest it’s very much in line with the kind of Church Pope Francis has been promoting:

It says it has affiliated movements in 70 countries and an estimated global membership of around one million with most of those movements also coming from the Global South.

As a comparison, that number of one million members is over 50% more than the average number of Catholics who attend mass in Australia on any given Sunday (623,000 based on 2016 figures).

What’s more, being a member of a movement clearly implies much more than Sunday mass attendance as the myriad of projects, training programs and activities that the movement organises around the world illustrate.

So, given that there will be 14 Aussies attending the first session of the coming Synod on Synodality, one might expect that there’d be at least a couple of IMCS leaders among the contingent of lay leaders who will take part. Right?

Well, no, actually! There will not be a single person representing those 70 IMCS national movements who will attend the Synod. Nor, as far as I can tell, from any of the many other international Catholic movements that exist around the world.

And that’s the problem of overlooking the associative dimension of the Church in the choice of participants for the Synod.

Quite frankly, it’s an inexcusable oversight.

The good news is that there are still three months before the Synod meets to remedy this. Let’s make sure something happens to change this!

Stefan Gigacz