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“83-year-old priest, I suffer when I see the ordeal that our Church is going through”

I am 83 years old. I am from Haute-Loire, from a family of peasants. At 20, Algeria, then I returned to the Sons of Charity. After my studies, May 68 broke out, the noisy childbirth of modernity. Ordained, I was appointed in the parish, first vicar then parish priest in several parishes.

I was happy everywhere. I had pleasure in working in the ordinary ministry of parish priest: catechesis with children, young people, adults; preaching, training, celebration of the Eucharist and the sacraments, work, crafts …

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Telling what I lived would do nothing. I simply want to say that I suffer when I see the ordeal that our Church is going through: religious faith and practice are melting at full speed, in my rural environment even faster than in the Paris region. The priests are however very generous everywhere, they do all they can. The bishops too. These are not the deficiencies of people that could avoid the huge depression that we are experiencing.

The world has changed

The world has changed: he received a super gift in the 18th century. He tasted it and exploded in May 68. We are in an extension of science and technology which never ends and which is irreversible. Christian faith seems to be like an old building that cracks before falling, unless …

→ READ. May 68 dechristianized France?

We had a mighty, large, pyramidal Church. She begins to understand that she must become more fraternal, more open to dialogue, less hierarchical, less exclusively masculine… This, everyone feels it and begins to say it. But doing it is not that easy!

We had a Church which knows the faith by heart, deploys it solemnly in its professions of faith and all the symbolism that forms the basis of the liturgy. Old Christians like me are used to it and they welcome this communion in which the mystery of God comes to embrace the mystery of man …

Address non-Christians

But how will we do so that the opposite approach also opens up: that a man’s attachment to his human adventure can give rise to an opening towards the Father and, better still, a welcoming of his love? How will we go about helping a seeker or worshiper of God (a non-Christian) to become attached to Jesus the Savior and Son of God …

→ READ. “A closed church is a church where nothing is happening”

In both cases we need not only faith, but crazy spontaneity in faith, inventiveness in faith, in words, deeds, gestures, images, silences, love and respect… The delicate spontaneity of the Holy Spirit. We need even more to live in the great gap to which faith invites us ourselves: we have learned that everything comes from above, from the Father, and that everything is given to us in his Son Jesus. We have also learned that everything comes from below, from Jesus, from his provocation, from his word, from his charity, from the gift of his life until the cross and that this opens us to the Father.

→ READ. Australian George Pell, facing de-Christianization

Christian faith is uncomfortable! It is impossible to announce it without ourselves being overwhelmed by what we are announcing. And fascinated by what welcomes us: a warm home for our life and an orientation for our walk. We are all, today, challenged to share, at new expense, the light and the joy of the Christian faith and therefore, first of all, to rediscover it! The Holy Spirit will do this wonder.

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