Vows pronounced on January 16, 2023, in the House of the Bishops of France, by Mgr Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, President of the Conference of Bishops of Franceand Bishop Laurent Ulrich, archbishop of Paris, in the presence of the Minister of the Interior, senators and deputies, the Prefect, leaders of religions in France, leaders of movements movements and associations.
Bishop Laurent Ulrich, archbishop de Paris, and I send you our best wishes for the year 2023, which began a fortnight ago. We do this in each of our names, in the name of all the bishops of France who are represented here, in particular by the bishops appointed this year, who are currently in the week of initiation in this house. All of you, we assure you of our prayers. We thank you for being here with us. We receive strong encouragement on the threshold of this year for the task that is ours.
May this year, Minister, be, for our country and therefore also for you, a year of peace, a year in which the social bond is strengthened, “social friendship”, if I use the words of Pope Francis in his text Fratelli tutti addressed to the bishops at the end of 2020 on fraternity, a year which sees peace and, why not, resolution of the conflicts of the world, a year during which everyone can look beyond tomorrow with confidence and hope and find joy to build projects with others.
A year and a month ago, you presented me here, Mr. Minister, in the presence of a good number of those who are here this evening, with the insignia of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. You will become a regular in this house (as in the Vatican and St. Peter’s Square, for that matter)! The subjects discussed that evening remain at the heart of the concerns of our country, of the work of this house, of our relations with the public authorities or our other partners in social life:
- the law confirming the principles of the Republic, whose different Christian denominations understood the motivation but pointed out the unexpected complications that this law would cause for them. This law has now been passed and even confirmed, despite our appeals, by the Constitutional Council and the Council of State; we will apply it, of course, and with a good heart; we are working on it without delay;
- migrations about which the government has revived a new law. They remain a human drama, of men and women seeking to live and pursuing a hope and even a hope ;
- the fight against violence and sexual assault in the Church and also in the rest of society. Our internal work is deeply and resolutely engaged, it continues irreversibly. We are aware of the justice that we owe to people who have been victims of such crimes and misdemeanors and of the deafness or hardness of heart that our institution has shown. I greet with gratitude the President of the Independent National Authority for Recognition and Reparation, the President of the Recognition and Reparation Commission of the Conference of Religious of France, and the President of the Selam Fund as well as the members of these bodies or the actors of this work who were able to join us this evening. They make concrete the path of recognition and reparation that the Church in France has the responsibility to open up to victims.
I could add to it tonight the great open debate on the end of life of which you all know the concern it arouses in us for the future of our society: this one, we are convinced of it as the persons in charge of all the worships in our country, can do better still to encourage its members to s fraternally commit to one another, including in the face of death and the suffering and anxieties that one and the other arouse in everyone.
I should add too the war in Ukraine. It upset the world balance and caused the reappearance of ghosts that everyone thought had driven out of Europe. I would like us not to forget the unfortunate and worrying fate of Armenia, nor Lebanon and Syria, Burkina-Faso, Mali, Niger, upset by movements claiming to be Islamist. In a completely different order of ideas, we should also mention the pension reform and the various concerns of our fellow citizens about their future.
We are working on all these subjects with the leaders of other Christian denominations and other religions, with the desire that is our desire to all of us to internally nourish social friendship, the cement of republican fraternity. I would like to express here the support that we give each other in the initiatives that we take, each for his own part, to fight against anti-Semitism in all its forms and to try to heal people’s minds, to serve the full participation of our Muslim fellow citizens, women and men, to the life of our country, with respect for the religious freedom of each and everyone, to assume the painful and glorious history of our country, as we have been able to do symbolically, thanks to you, Pastor Krieger, during the commemoration of Saint-Barthélémy in Paris last September or, thanks to you, Monsieur le Grand Rabbi, in remembering this summer the letter of Cardinal Saliège and the RighteousChristians or not, of our country, as you have helped us to do, Mr. Rectorduring the centenary of the Great Mosque.
Neither Bishop Ulrich nor I are going to develop all this, which already lives in our hearts and our thoughts. As I was thinking about this word, a lady expressing her wishes to me offered me, in a way, this sentence of the well-known Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. He wrote somewhere this: I agree under these conditions to walk to the end on a road of which I am more and more certain, towards horizons more and more drowned in mist. This is how I believe “.
He expressed himself in this way about his personal journey of faith, but this sentence transposes quite well, I believe, on our earthly scale and for our social life at all. The most qualified actors and the sharpest observers repeatedly emphasize on the airwaves or in their writings that the future is enveloped for generations to come by uncertainties on several levels. Is it completely new? To be human is to advance towards a future that is by definition uncertain, whatever its foreseeable aspects. Teilhard helps us formulate a wish and a prayer: that we can all, that you can all, ladies and gentlemen gathered here and those you represent, move forward on a path of which you are increasingly certain. Each, each, knows what sources he can draw from to ensure his walk, from what light he receives to locate an assured route. Here, I dare say it: this road for me is that of love, not as possession, not as desire, but as gift and acceptance, gift of self and acceptance of the other, the Lord Jesus by revealing the possible breadth that embraces times and eternity and the causes of history.
This wish, I form it; this prayer, I express it, in the first place for young people. May they go on a road of which they can be more and more certain, whatever the uncertainties of the near future and the impossibility of describing thehope definitive as if it were a vacation spot. However, this year 2023 will be marked for us Catholics and, we fervently hope, for a few others, by the World Youth Days that the Pope called in Lisbon from July 25 to August 6giving them the theme of an attitude of the Virgin Mary “Mary got up and left in haste”. We wish this experience to all young people: to get up and leave in a hurry, which means: to find the taste, the energy, the enthusiasm, to get going and therefore succeed in giving themselves a goal, an objective, to perceive the hope or thehope of an event that is worth living and which deserves to mobilize forces and energies, the ability to take responsibility for oneself and to unite with others, readiness to face obstacles and the inner conviction of being able to overcome them. This is how young people live and we can attest, Archbishop Ulrich and I who are speaking to you this evening and many others with us, that Catholic youth is like this: full of resources, better capable than one says or thinks of take up the challenges of the future, those of the Church and those of the world, desiring to play its part in the partition of history and to influence, as much as it can, the course of humanity. We see young people of them in this house and in our dioceses, our parishes, movements and associations, who are connected to their interiority, who have the freedom to live in the midst of their generation by assuming the color they aspire to give to their life, who are generous and courageous and daring, humble but firm. World Youth Days will show, if need be, that they exist and that they are beautiful and beautiful, open to the diversity of the world’s youth, ready to work with all the others, and that They constitute, for their part, a promise for all of humanity.
I leave the floor here to Bishop Ulrich, archbishop from Paris. [texte publié ci-dessous]
Another quotation allows us to evoke a little differently this assured walk that we wish for all. I gleaned it, too, from the greeting cards I received. A lady, another still told me how she had once or formerly accompanied a trainee whose Jewish grandfather, a furrier in the Marais, had put a sign on her door: “Here, we repair, we restore, we transform. » We have just mentioned Notre Dame of Paris. It easily symbolizes the history of our Church in France.
The Church in France is spiritual and creative
When Pope Francis received the Presidency of our Conference of Bishops last December 13, at the end of the interview, he made a point of addressing him a word for the future. He took a few minutes to reflect and then told us: “The Church in France is spiritual and creative. Nurture that: spirituality and creativity. Allow me, Mr. Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen, Eminences, Messeigneurs, Ladies and Gentlemen Pastors, dear friends and dear friends, that I wish this to the Church in France, for this year, the Catholic Church but all the Church of Christ also by adding a wish and a prayer which I believe you will share with me: that Pope Francis come and tell us this himself, orally, in the live presence, in Marseilles one day, as he begins to discuss the project.
Happy New Year 2023 to all of you and all those you represent: may it be a march led with peace of mind, whatever the uncertain future andhope that we cannot grasp alone, may it be spiritual and creative for each and every one.