IMS Days from 14 to 17 November 2023

International Missionary Benefit Society (IMS), an international solidarity service for living care and health in the Church, held its Steering Committee and triennial General Assembly in Paris from 14 to 17 November at the home of the Daughters of Charity.


The  IMS is present in over 140 countries. The General Assembly brought together delegates from the IMS’s main locations. Part of the Steering Committee was renewed and a new member was welcomed to represent the indigenous women’s congregations of West Africa – young congregations, very numerous and often with few financial resources: Anima Una.

As a reminder, the IMS is an association whose purpose is to procure, for the benefit of religious communities (dioceses, institutes, associations of the faithful), the payment of aid enabling them to cope with the services they must provide for their members in compliance with the rules that apply to them, in particular in application of canon law and national regulations.


Effective decentralisation


Led by the Continental Sections of West Africa (Abidjan), Central Africa (Yaoundé), East Africa (Nairobi), Madagascar, Central America and Belgium, and for the other countries by a General Section in Paris, the representatives of the Sections were able to present their own situations. The Steering Committee was thus able to assess the variety of health situations on the different continents: lack of pharmacies, lack of analysis equipment and radios, but also the difficulties linked to the lack of electrical and computer equipment, not to mention the difficulties specific to situations of remoteness from capital cities, insecurity and political instability. The bishops representing West Africa and East Africa were able to clearly demonstrate their attachment to the IMS and to see its activity develop. They insisted on the need to continue to reflect on long-term care, on support for retirement with suitable places and maintenance payments. This is a major undertaking, given the diversity of situations and legislation in different countries.


A Solidarity Fund


Pursuant to article 29 of the Articles of Association, a portion of the membership fee may be allocated by decision of the Executive Committee to a Social Fund. During the three-year period just ended, €750,000 was allocated to this fund. This Fund is intended to promote and develop social action in favour of the most disadvantaged beneficiaries, in particular by taking into account the economic realities and health conditions of certain countries and the current consequences of the COVID19 pandemic. To support the development of high-quality healthcare, the IMS has chosen to work with MSH, a partner with an international healthcare network that allows third-party payment according to the options chosen by the community. This partnership also enables us to secure financial flows in times of monetary crisis, with seven currencies in 141 countries. Congregations with an international dimension are directly involved in the smooth running of the IMS.


Fidelity to the Social Doctrine of the Church


An in-depth reflection on the ecclesial roots of IMS in the Social Doctrine of the Church also provided an opportunity to re-examine the challenges and responsibilities of those involved in the mission in the area of care.

Three sources fuelled this reflection: the social doctrine of the Church and social protection, the responsibility of bishops and major superiors, and the health of major superiors and bishops.