The concept of the Forum grew organically over time. The need for a mechanism at the service of collaboration having long been recognized, the reality of the present day Forum developed from entities such as the Conference of International Catholic Organizations that matured during the 20th century. In 2008, Committee Chairman Johan Ketelers described the evolution of the Forum in this way:
Early last year (2007) a working group of volunteers started preparing a process to examine these questions on what was to become a major gathering of some 90 international Catholic inspired Organisations with International status. The resulting Forum, which was held in December 2007 united during three days of exchanges the representatives of the Secretariat of State, representatives of various Pontifical Councils, the representatives of the Holy See at the various intergovernmental bodies and of the major International Catholic inspired Organizations. The meeting succeeded at raising a number of positive considerations, conclusions, questions and ideas on which to build future collaboration.
The major significance of these first exchanges cannot be sufficiently highlighted: the meeting focused on the concern most of the organizations share in their search for better positioning, impact and identity and which had lead them into many debates over the past years; it brought together most valuable expertise and commitment in operational activities and in policy work covering a vast number of activity fields; last and certainly not least, the meeting received high level significance with the message of the Holy Father, who not only expressed gratitude and appreciation for the work of the international associations but who also reminded that “the direct duty to work for a just ordering of society is proper to the lay faithful – including the members of Non Governmental Organisations – who are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity and to configure social life correctly respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility.”
For a more detailed explanation, see Mr. Keteler’s 2008 article appearing in the Osservatorio Romano, available here.