Commentary by Mgr. Vingt-Trois and Mgr. Ricard on the WYD

Source: FSSPX News


During a press conference held in Cologne on August 20, Mgr. André Vingt-Trois said that the role of the Catholic Church “is not to write a critical interpretation of the Koran”, but “to motivate, encourage, induce” the Muslim authorities to write their own critical interpretation of the Koran, to “standardize an interpretation of it” and “to make themselves heard in public places.” According to the archbishop of Paris, it is up to them to call “for peace” and to say that they reject terrorism.

In the pope’s speech to Muslim representatives there was “a whole passage on terrorism, a question very relevant today because of the return of a form of barbarity,” said Mgr. Jean-Pierre Ricard, president of the French Bishops Conference. “Do our democracies have enough strength in the defence of life, of the human person, in order to demand not only a rejection of terrorism, but to defend life in all forms, especially human life?” “It is evident that this is a grave concern for the pope”, said the archbishop of Bordeaux.

Asked about the fact that the German president had talked of a Europe to be constructed of brothers and sisters, Mgr. Vingt-Trois replied that “when the German president speaks about brothers and sisters, perhaps I am naive, but usually there is a father. Where is the father, who is he? Because we can’t be brothers without a father, or a mother. This raises the question of whether one can really promote human fraternity without knowing whose children these brothers are?” he stressed. “Is it possible to believe in the vague idea or the possibility of setting up a fraternity without a father – up to now that has not worked – or could we believe in mankind’s capacity to recognize each other as brothers inasmuch as when they acknowledge themselves as children of God?” He added: “This is also one of the challenges for WYD”, which is not merely “the setting up of a meeting of young people of the same generation”. “Can there be WYD without God?” the archbishop asked journalists.

Beyond their wish to spend “a joyful and festive moment” with young people from all over the world and “to meet the pope”, Mgr. Vingt-Trois believed that there was an “intense spiritual expectation among many” of the young participants. He also emphasized their “true candour” expressed through the “genuine existential questions” which they put to the bishops during the catecheses, notably “on life, death, on love and on God”. He also had the impression that the young “were discovering these questions for themselves”, as they were asking them, and that they had had “no alternative response” comparable with that given by the Church.

The young people are discovering through this meeting in Germany that “Church membership may not be a social taboo,” the archbishop of Paris said. He then evoked the “silent minorities” in society, and those who remain silent when they are not in agreement with the trends of society and its conformism. As in France, “anyone who is against having precocious sexual relations, is saying something unjustifiable, and anyone who wants to help the underprivileged can only speak in restricted circles. And anyone who says ’I believe in God’ is completely mad”, he concluded. Speaking about the pope’s meeting with the Jews, Mgr. Ricard stated that “the Catholics are called to go in two very precise directions, that of “pursuing with perseverence the work of purification of memory and historical reconciliation, and at the same time that of developing a better knowledge and a mutual respect” between the two religions. “The Decalogue give us a common ground of appreciation and possible work with regard to the needs of humanity”, he added.

Finally, asked about the young people’s relationship with Benedict XVI, the archbishop of Bordeaux stated: “I think that the mutual softening between the pope and the young people is taking place and will continue”. “One feels that the pope is relaxing and becoming more and more confident”, he felt, stressing that it was “not easy” for him, “a man of documents, an office man, a thinker, even though he likes contact”, “to meet all these young people and to take over from the giant figure of John Paul II, who was so brilliant at the gatherings of young people”.