France: The Bishops of France Refuse to “get shut themselves up in a work of nostalgic maintenance”

Source: FSSPX News

Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris.

The plenary assembly of the bishops of France, which took place in Lourdes from November 4th to 9th, renewed the three-year term of the president of the Episcopal Conference of France (CEF) Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris.  His two vice-presidents, Bishop Hippolyte Simon, archbishop of Clermont, and Bishop Laurent Ulrich, archbishop of Lille, were also re-elected for three years.

“We have pursued our reflections on the future of our Christian communities,” declared Cardinal Vingt-Trois in his closing speech.  “The initiatives that we have collected in all the ecclesiastical provinces have brought our attention to what is the proper mission of our Church: to announce Jesus Christ Who died and rose again for the life of the world.  We are often pressed with the maintenance of structures inherited from the past, but we avoid allowing ourselves to be caught up in a work of nostalgic maintenance, and we turn resolutely to our present and future mission,” continued the cardinal.  Just as the places of social life have moved to the towns and villages that have schools and colleges, shopping centers, and health services, he explained, the faithful learn to come to these cities on Sundays to “participate in a veritable eucharistic assembly which is the occasion to live a parochial communion that surpasses the strict limits of the village or hamlet and to become an authentic feast”.  This new parish assembled “can become the center of sacramental life and of catechesis”.

“This future of our Christian communities will be brought about by the practicing minority”, added Bishop Bernard Charrier, bishop of Tulle.  “55 innovative propositions” were produced by this work in Lourdes.  Reflection upon the diminishing number of priests made them aware of “an urgent need to return to the roots in the Word of God, that it may become a personal and community experience”; and also that priests, “too, are concerned”, with a “redeployment of their tasks and responsibilities”, and that they are called to a “greater humility in the exercise of authority”, following the example of the first Christian communities described by St. Paul.  Bishop Hippolyte Simon followed this same evangelical theme when he invited practicing Catholics to be the “yeast in the dough” for the others.  “Upon whom else can I depend besides the 4 or 5% of practicing Catholics in our country ?” he remarked, in a press conference, Bishop Charrier at his side, on November 5, 2010.  For the Church's mission, we must not withdraw.  “Re-centered on Christ”, the Church must make herself “dialogue and service”.

Commentary:  “Not to let ourselves be caught up in a work of nostalgic maintenance”, “to live a parochial community that surpasses the strict limits of the village or hamlet and to become an authentic feast”, one would think that the bishops of France are discovering, in 2010, the rural exodus begun in the 19th century.  These expressions are in reality a cover-up.  “A redeployment of [sacerdotal] tasks and responsibilities” clearly signifies: “how do we handle our indigence?”, for “on whom else [can they] count if not on the 4 or 5 % of practicing Catholics in our country?” (Source: CEF – DICI 227, December 18, 2010)