Bishop Lustiger, this character…

Of Marion Duvauchel :

It is all the same unusual to be offered, on August 15, the feast day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, a “Christian” programme. Arte gave us a little moment of grace with the TV movieIlan Duran Cohen, the crossbreed of God. The title is a bit absurd, spiritual interbreeding doesn’t exist, but the film is good. Lawrence Lucas lends his features to Jean-Marie Lustiger and Aurelien Recoing embodies John Paul II. Successful casting in terms of physical resemblance as well as in terms of interpretation.

The Jean-Marie Lustiger Institute has very clearly distanced itself from this fictionalized biography. In an official statement, he recalls in the preamble that it is a “work of fiction” and that the screenwriter and the director “were freely inspired by certain biographical and historical data”.

As if we had no idea.

The mission of the Institute is to make known the work of the cardinal, with the following missions:

  • Ensure a reference archive collection:
  • Collect testimonials
  • Supervise publications concerning Cardinal Lustiger

Ah… Perhaps quite simply that the Lustiger Institute would also have liked to supervise this cinematographic production.

Here is the continuation of this warning from the Lustiger Institute, guardian of the temple of the life and personality of this Jewish convert to Christianity, who maintained his loyalty to Israel even on his epitaph.

“The dramaturgy of the film is based on their vision and their interpretation of the personality of Aron Jean-Marie Lustiger, his family relations, as well as his relationship – here very romanticized – with John-Paul II. The Auschwitz Carmel affair is one of the screenplay’s cruxes. Sometimes close, sometimes far from reality, this fiction will be able to touch the viewer. It should lead him to rediscover the life and all the action of Jean-Marie Lustiger.

I am willing to believe that the members of the Lustiger Institute are intimately familiar with the relationship that Bishop Lustiger maintained with John Paul II throughout their two relatively long existences. But to stage relationships in a living way, it’s hard to see how to do otherwise than through dialogue, with the inevitable elasticity of fiction with reality.

By viewing this film, all those who do not know or have not known the cardinal intimately will not be able to help but wonder: did he smoke like a trooper? Did he have such familiar relations with those around him (the young priest who assists him calls him “Lulu”)? Was he irascible?

What we know surely because there were witnesses, (but that the TV movie does not say), is that barely named in Orleans, he hastened to destroy the altar and to modify the places of his church. Great intelligence. He thus broke the material framework of the usual Vestal Virgins steeped in custom and whose hostility to any change contributes in all the parishes, even today, to emptying them of transforming energies. And he sent them a sign: he is the boss in the Church. It is sure, it is a character!!

As for the romanticized relations with John Paul II, we suspect that the exchange between the two men in the popemobile which has just emerged from the minds of the engineers is a fiction. We are not that stupid. But she is delicious.

How delightful is the scene which brings together the pope and an assembly of solemn cardinals around the appointment of Lustiger as bishop of Orléans. One of these venerable prelates announces, with this tone imbued with quilted compunction which one lends to them traditionally, the rumor which circulates about him:

– They say he is temperamental.

And the sublime response of John Paul II:

– Mgr …, do you think that the Church of France needs one more rug??

If not e vero, if it is not true, it is well found…

For those interested in the relationship between these two exceptional men, there is a video from the INA which evokes it at the time when the rumor was circulating that the pope would call Jean-Marie Lustiger to high office.

If fiction has staged these relationships by taking a certain liberty with reality, it is nonetheless true that the two men shared the same vision of the Church and that only those who are appointed to high office who are close to this vision. Just look at the cardinals appointed by the current pope.

The film will not only “touch” those who are unaware of everything or the essence of this man from the Church of France: some will go and check what is true and what is fictional; others will go and re-read his works; still others will perhaps wonder about the weight of cinema in the construction of a great figure in the history and history of the Church.

This TV movie does not cheat: it presents itself as a TV movie. And for once, the men of the Church are presented and staged with humor, with benevolence, in the difficulties of their life as priests and prelates and their embodied reality: sons of…

Son of a mother who died in the camps.

Cardinal Lustiger is also a child who grew up without a mother.

Apart from the fact that it is good to see that on the day of the Assumption, a channel offers a program adapted to the Christian world, it is comforting to note that the essential qualities manifested by Bishop Lustiger during his existence have been respected: courage, faith, hope, pastoral energy. Much strength, intelligence, courage, wisdom and piety. For the record, all gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t know if he really spoke about the formation of priests in the terms attributed to him in this film: mediocre formation. If he did, he was just telling the truth. If he didn’t, well, you can’t help but think he definitely meant it.

What would the cardinal have thought of this fictionalized biography? I dare to believe that he would have liked the freedom with which his life and his person are staged, as well as the benevolence that weaves everything that touches the life of the man, the son and the pastor. It’s rare enough to be commended.

Bishop Lustiger, this character… – Riposte-catholique