Christmas 2023 – Letter of the AMI President

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Dear comrades in Christ,

dear AMI friends and family,

At the Angelus prayer on the 4th Sunday of Advent our Pope Francis stated “God can turn a crisis into a new horizon”. Pope Francis reflects on how St. Joseph welcomed the Messiah as God’s gift, and recalls that God can take the most difficult moments of our lives and turn them into opportunities for new beginnings.

Difficult moments; many around the world have seen that this year. The Russian invasion of Ukraine runs into its third year. The dreadful terrorist attack in the Holy land and the follow on actions. Migration is playing up and becoming a pressure on people, and bring many refugees in jeopardy, as seen in the Mediterranean. The environment is suffering from human actions and this leads also to insecurity. Technical developments as for example in Artificial Intelligence are leading into ethical questions same accounts for the issue of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems. The Holy See is pro-active in all these issues and challenges as can be seen in the recent encyclicals and interventions, expressions and mediation attempts by the Holy Father. For myself and Ernie we are at the moment, instead of celebrating the Christmas period at home, now travelling from Buenos Aires to Antarctica and celebrate Christmas there. To be in lovely Argentina, the native country of our beloved Pope, visiting the Cathedral he pastored brings me to say great thanks to the Pope for all he is doing for mankind, the Catholic Church and AMI. We wish him well and a hallowed 2024! Coming back to “the difficult moments in our lives and turn them into opportunities”, this for sure is something we as Catholic military and families understand. Also this year many military were send on missions to support, train or defend others, many military stayed on duties in their home countries to protect and support the society. Many supported civil authorities in disaster relieve, facing criminal organisations and fighting terrorists. For the beloved ones at home it is always keeping up: live with the uncertainty, accept the absence and keep the family going. Homefront should be applauded for this!  For AMI, 2023 was a busy year. We attended the European conference of our fellow Christian Military brothers in Zeliv, Czech Republic, we discussed common topics to investigate. We extended contacts with Ukrainians. We presented in Lourdes the translated CMC app version to the Vice minister of defence and the Chief of the Chaplain service. We further invited Ukraine to observe the AMI conference and in November we made a working visit to Kyiv. We supported the Holy See delegation to the conference on AI in the Military domain in The Hague, The Netherlands. We found a AMI member to support the nuntius accredited to the OPCW. We held our AMI conference in Mechelen (Belgium) in September it was a great event, for which we thank our hosts tremendously! In the conference the new Ecclesiastical assistant was elected: military chief chaplain Ft Milan Pregelj a long standing member of AMI. We will find a moment to thank Fr. Pat Dolan for his tremendous and continued support to AMI. During the conference it was announced that a new Catholic Military Organisation is set up in the USA, AMI assisted in the way to this goal. New initiatives were taken on forming a working group on social media, establish the position of a junior enlisted advisor, establish a standing structure for dedicated topics.   Also this year at the International Military Pilgrimage in Lourdes in May, AMI presented itself and the CMC app to many of the young military present. Via leaflets to all attending the Basilica and National briefings. We continued to work with the Forum of Catholic Inspired NGO’s in Rome working on coordination and collaboration of all the good work conducted by so many Catholic NGO’s around the world (AMI one of those NGO’s). We visited Kenia to prepare for next years conference. Kenia already stood up a working group whom we met in Nairobi and travelled to Mombasa. A lot was already prepared very well! Next year our annual conference will be held in Mombasa, Kenia!  Details on next year conference, actions from Mechelen, status of the App and new initiatives, will be forwarded by the AMI Secretary-General Colonel Domenico D’Ortenzi in newsletters and the Action plan. St Joseph didn’t understand what happened but his faith made him make the right decision: standing by his Mary and with her let the baby arrive in this world. A small baby but with the great promise of “new beginnings” for all! Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2024!   Let me conclude my message with the blessings and good wishes of the AMI Ecclesiastical Assistant Brig.Gen. Dolan Fr. Patrick: May God who has loved all of us through the whole world dwell in your hearts this Christmas season–and through you, and all the members and friends of AMI, bring to your nations and all parts of the world the peace and joy that radiates from the newborn Christ child. May God give you and your loved ones His special blessing: + the Father , the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Matthieu J.M. Borsboom Vice Admiral RNLN rtd  President Apostolat Militaire International.