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Monasteries, actors of social life in the world

It’s a fairly obvious observation: the presence of a monastery, despite the high walls of the enclosure, has a certain influence on the neighborhood. Just as much as prayer, it is the very life of the religious community that arouses surrounding activities, and inaugurates human but also practical, concrete exchanges. “It is these social works that the new Benedictus Foundation wants to encourage and support”, explains Father Jean-Pierre Longeat. Created last year by the Inter-Monastery Alliance (AIM) and the Association of Friends of Monasteries around the World (AMTM), the new foundation is hosted by Caritas-France, which manages administrative matters.

“Very often, monasteries develop agricultural activities, or even schools, dispensariesexplains the president of the AIM. Benedictus will make it possible to come to the aid of these social commitments of the monasteries”. Until then, the mission of AIM was to support the foundations of monasteries in the world – and more particularly in the continents of Africa, South America and Asia. She helped with the training of monks and nuns, to support the development projects of this or that community.

“With the foundation, it is both a broadening of our solidarity, but also the confirmation of the social role of our monasteries”, confirms Father Longeat. An impact on the location of monasteries similar to what could happen in Europe in the Middle Ages, in a way: “It is truly the taking into account of human development around the monasteries. »

Long time and stability

With some 1,800 communities, the monastic network federates through the foundation for “participate in the transformation of society to put people at the center”, adds Jean-Pierre Longeat. Often modest and silent, the monks and nuns, through the foundation, will be able to share their social dynamics with those around them. The influence of the monasteries on these development projects is all the more precious as their presence is part of the long term and of stability.

The fact remains that, to carry out these programs, the monasteries have recourse to company techniques: We don’t agree on everything, we don’t operate in the same way, but confronting monastic life with the world of business can be enriching”explains the president of the AIM.

Monastery-company meeting

Hence the idea of ​​a conference, combining the view of a great patron and a monk. Tuesday, April 19, monasteries and companies confront their points of view on the challenges of the world, climate, urbanization, globalization… Alongside Jean-Pierre Longeat, Pierre-André de Chalendar, president of the Saint-Gobain group and also president of the Business and Common Good Chair at the Catholic Institute of Paris (1).

How can monasteries intervene in the business world? “We must find an alternative to commercial globalization and economic globalization”maintains Jean-Pierre Longeat, inviting “deepen our fundamentals for the benefit of a new global humanity. » The Covid-19 crisis, in this respect, is rich in lessons, having accelerated, via the Internet, the links between communities and vis-à-vis remote people. Jean-Pierre Longeat predicts it: “We are entering a new era, in the sense of the great geological eras”.