French Catholics seek to integrate the poor

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Blue and yellow flowers in the colors of the Ukrainian flag sprang here and there from bags and baskets as nearly 80 members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council of Rouen gathered on March 26 for a full day of meetings devoted to the preparation of the synod of bishops. assembly on synodality.

April 22, 2022

By Malo Tresca
Blue and yellow flowers in the colors of the Ukrainian flag sprang here and there from bags and baskets as nearly 80 members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council of Rouen gathered on March 26 for a full day of meetings devoted to the preparation of the synod of bishops. assembly on synodality. The flowers were brought to decorate one of the vast halls of the diocesan center. They were meant to be a “sign of communion” with the war-torn population of Ukraine, just a day after Pope Francis consecrated the country and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“Today marks the last day of the synodal process, but the process will continue,” began Father Alexandre Gérault, vicar general of the diocese, which is in the heart of Normandy. “We wanted to take stock of this experience with you, artisans of this approach in your parishes”, declared the priest before insisting on the need, at the heart of this new meeting, to take greater account of “the words of the poorer “.

A “day of brotherhood”
After five meetings with leaders of associations in contact with deprived people – people in precarious situations, prisoners, homeless people, young people from the suburbs, etc. — it had already been decided to organize a festive event with them on June 11, “fraternity day” in front of Rouen Cathedral. “They are often fatalistic, feel invisible and tell us that the Church is too taken on itself,” said Christiane Rousseau, a volunteer with an association affiliated with the Saint-Vincent de Paul Society. “Depending on their expectations, this June 11 event has not finished being developed,” said Maïté Massot, diocesan delegate to the synod, before inviting the assembly to the various workshops planned for the day. In room 104, six people – including a priest from a rural area – gathered to reflect on two themes: “How have we listened to the voice of the poorest in the synodal process? and “What proposals could we make to better integrate them into our communities?”

Don’t try to attract the poor at all costs
The objective was to produce three key ideas, in three sentences, which could then be presented to the rest of the assembly. “I don’t really like the term ‘poor’, I prefer those of precariousness or fragility, which everyone can identify with,” explains Marie-Odile, a retiree involved with the Saint-Vincent de Paul. “I am wary of this Church which wants to ‘attract the poorest at all costs’… For me, it is above all a question of going to meet them”, added Yves, head of the Norman Institute of Sciences. nuns (INSR) for the Rouen region. Priority projects are quickly emerging: “recognize our poverty” — by promoting this awareness through sharing groups, meetings, etc. — to promote the inclusion of the poorest in the Church — by abandoning any disproportionate attitude — and finally to dare to take this fight to the level. And on this last point, the discussion went well.

Weighing in on the realities
Yves said he was “outraged” by “the current view of migrant quotas”, which has become a major talking point in the French presidential election. “We have our work cut out,” he said. “If we stay only in the realm of faith, we will not be able to influence the realities that we want to change. We must dare to question our mayors, our prefects, the municipalities, ”continued Yves. His observation was echoed by some of the other groups in their presentations in the morning session. Then, in the afternoon, there was a new discussion on the synodal experience. The team in charge of synthesizing all the presentations has submitted its preliminary report. He was to send a final report to the dioceses by April 16. Shortly before 5:00 p.m., Bishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen closed the day. “Today, in particular, three words that have been associated with the Synod have frequently emerged: participation, communion and mission,” he noted gently. “I feel like we are on this path and the Lord is really walking with us,” he said. LCI (https://international.la-croix.com)

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