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Ordination de 130 nouveaux prêtres: «La France est désormais un pays de mission»

Ordination de 130 nouveaux prêtres: «La France est désormais un pays de mission»

130 nouveaux prêtres sont ordonnés en France en 2021.
 
130 nouveaux prêtres sont ordonnés en France en 2021. AFP

FIGAROVOX/TRIBUNE - 130 nouveaux prêtres sont ordonnés en France tout au long du mois de juin. À cette occasion, l'abbé Pierre Amar revient sur la situation de l'Église aujourd'hui et sur les défis auxquels ces jeunes prêtres seront confrontés.

 

L'abbé Pierre Amar est prêtre dans les Yvelines et rédacteur sur padreblog.fr . Son dernier ouvrage paru est Hors Service (Artège, 2019).

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On ordonne en France ces jours-ci 130 nouveaux prêtres. Ils ne seront pas de trop, à commencer par les 26 d'entre eux (du jamais vu !) ordonnés au sein de la Communauté Saint-Martin au cours de deux cérémonies distinctes, précaution sanitaire oblige. Depuis 2000 ans, leur mission est inchangée, à la fois vertigineuse et exaltante: donner Jésus et le faire aimer. Mais dans quel paysage arrivent-ils?

 

En effet, les mois écoulés n'ont pas affecté les seuls rouages économiques, politiques et sociaux de notre pays. Ils ont aussi accéléré et amplifié certaines tendances dans l'Église de France. Le premier indicateur est celui des chiffres: certains diocèses évoquent une baisse significative du taux de pratique. Il s'agit souvent de personnes âgées, dissuadées de sortir de chez elles par crainte de la contamination, et qui ont trouvé un certain confort à la diffusion télévisée ou digitalisée des messes. En fait, les restrictions semblent avoir eu raison de la pratique religieuse lorsque celle-ci n'était que ponctuelle ou peu ancrée.

Bien sûr, des poches de forte pratique catholique se confirment selon des configurations géographiques, sociales ou affinitaires déjà repérées.

Mais dans certaines régions où l'Église peinait déjà, on ne parvient plus à tenir le territoire au moyen d'un maillage paroissial traditionnel. Dans le diocèse de Reims par exemple, en combinant le nombre des prêtres et leur moyenne d'âge, l'archevêque (Mgr Eric de Moulins-Beaufort) a dû être pragmatique: il a repéré 11 lieux eucharistiques. Il sait que la messe pourra y être assurée chaque dimanche dans les décennies qui viennent avec une assemblée significative, des capacités d'accueil, de formation, de partage et de solidarité convenables. Des monastères et des sanctuaires, définis comme des «lieux ressources», ont également été repérés. L'évêque a donc proposé que les prêtres et les diacres ne soient plus associés à un lieu déterminé mais à un «espace missionnaire» dans lequel ils auront à être, autant que possible, itinérants. On admet définitivement une réalité affirmée en son temps: la France est désormais un pays de mission.

Le manque de prêtres est plutôt une conséquence et non la cause de l'effacement de la foi catholique: moins de chrétiens veut dire logiquement moins de prêtres !

Pierre Amar

La rupture est toujours plus forte entre les configurations rurales et urbaines. Certaines nouvelles réalités sont déjà en train de poindre, comme des déséquilibres accélérés entre des territoires et des pratiques, avec des diocèses sans prêtres et des diocèses dynamiques (dans le diocèse d'Arras, par exemple, la moitié des prêtres ont plus de 80 ans). La voix des catholiques fervents se fait un peu plus retentir et, au sein du «catholand», des tensions semblent s'accélérer sur des thèmes déjà assez identifiables: enseignement catholique et enseignement hors contrat, liberté et expression publique du culte, sensibilités liturgiques, primauté du social, accueil des migrants, dialogue avec l'islam… Dans un contexte complexe de relation à la société postmoderne, il n'est peut-être pas impossible que les tensions qui traversent l'épiscopat allemand ou américain, s'importent en France.

L'âge médian des prêtres est de 75 ans et, depuis déjà plusieurs années, pour un jeune prêtre ordonné, 12 sont enterrés. Pour autant, le ratio entre le nombre de prêtres et les fidèles demeure stable. Le manque de prêtres est plutôt une conséquence et non la cause de l'effacement de la foi catholique: moins de chrétiens veut dire logiquement moins de prêtres !

La crise dont nous sortons n'a-t-elle pas non plus révélé l'humanité des prêtres, à travers leurs caractères et leurs tempéraments? Selon qu'ils soient sanguins, flegmatiques ou mélancoliques, ils n'ont pas manqué de susciter des réactions de la part des fidèles, qui ont fustigé tantôt l'inconscience des uns tantôt l'abandon des autres… La vérité, c'est que beaucoup font le dos rond. Surtout des prêtres diocésains quand ils sont isolés, avec ce mélange de burn-out (épuisement par excès de travail) et de bore out (par absence de sollicitation ou de perspectives). Un journaliste de l'hebdomadaire Famille Chrétienne vient de s'en faire l'écho dans un texte d'une profonde délicatesse.

Si un jeune homme s'engage pour toute la vie, cela n'est possible que parce que Dieu s'engage lui aussi. Le Seigneur ne lui promet pas une vie facile et confortable: d'ailleurs, le prêtre n'en voudrait pas. Mais il sait que Dieu sera là, toujours aimant, toujours présent.

Pierre Amar

Pope to new Armenian Patriarch: closeness to Syria, Lebanon

Pope to new Armenian Patriarch: closeness to Syria, Lebanon

In a letter, Pope Francis has granted the “Ecclesiastica Communio” to the new Patriarch of the Armenian Catholic Church, who was elected on September 23. The Pope received His Beatitude Raphaël Bedros XXI Minassian of Cilicia in the Vatican on Friday.
 

By Vatican News staff reporter

After his election, the Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians wrote to Pope Francis requesting “Ecclesiastica Communio” (ecclesiastical communion), which the Pope granted in a letter on Thursday. The Holy Father said he was sharing the joy of the Armenian Catholic Church, which prayed as the synod first met in Lebanon and then in Rome to elect the successor to the late Krikor Bedros XX Gabroyan, who died on May 25.

The Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of Cilicia is one of the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See and the worldwide Catholic Church. The patriarchate is headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon. 

Syria, Lebanon

In his letter, the Pope remembered the suffering of the people of Syria and Lebanon, where the Church of Cilicia of the Armenians is present. He also said that the pandemic “is still far from being overcome in many parts of the world.” 

In this situation, he said, “all persons of good will, especially Christians, are called to be neighbours and to demonstrate they are brothers, overcoming indifference and loneliness.” “Even under the floods of history and in the deserts of our time,” he wrote, “we can and must walk towards the Crucified and Risen One.”

Suffering of Armenians

Armenians, the Holy Father wrote, are regarded as “expert in suffering,” because of the many trials throughout its more than 1,700 years of Christian history. They have "an inexhaustible capacity to flourish and bear fruit, through the holiness and wisdom of their saints and martyrs, the culture of their doctors and thinkers, and the art that knows how to carve into the rock the sign of the cross like a tree of life, testimony to the victory of faith over every adverse force in the world."

Armenian memory and traditions

The Pope also pointed out that the Armenian Church is fully integrated in the affairs of the Armenian people, preserving their memory and traditions, and at the same time deeply linked to the Successor of the Apostle Peter. He entrusted to his care the younger generations, the promotion of vocations, and that he may find a wise harmony between the different entities of the community, such as the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, the Mekhitarist Congregation, and the Institute of the Patriarchal Clergy of Bzommar, as well as the many Armenian Catholics who were formed and live among Latin Catholics but are well aware of their Armenian heritage.

Pope Francis hoped that the All-Holy Mother of God; and Armenian saint, Gregory of Narek, who the Pope declared a Doctor of the Church, might guide, set an example, and intercede for the new Patriarch. He hoped, especially that she might show the Latin Catholic Church “the path of authentic fraternity and ecumenical dialogue with our brothers and sisters of the Armenian Apostolic Church."

Pope Pius XI was the first to use a mobile phone … in 1932

Pope Pius XI was the first to use a mobile phone … in 1932

POPE PIUS XI

Ann Ronan Picture Library | Photo12 | AFP

Daniel Esparza - published on 09/16/21

The Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi installed a shortwave radio telephone between the Vatican City and Castel Gandolfo.

Guglielmo Marconi, the Italian engineer who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1909, is widely known for inventing the radio. But some evidence seems to suggest he was also responsible for coming up with the mobile phone — a title currently claimed by Bell Laboratories. And while his device couldn’t send text messages and didn’t have the capacity to download and install apps to be enjoyed on a smooth touchscreen, it was surely good enough for Pope Pius XI to give it a try. 

According to Livio Spinelli, one of the organizers of an exhibition inaugurated at Santa Marinella (a coastal area north of Rome where Marconi conducted many of his experiments) back in 2004, evidence found in the Marconi Archive at Chelmsford (UK) shows the Italian inventor had developed a device consisting of a portable antenna, a microwave generator, and a radio transmitter that would be pretty similar to the parts used in our contemporary mobile phones. In fact, Spinelli explains, Marconi understood his device to be the prototype of a “portable telephone apparatus,” using “short and ultra-short microwaves,” as read in the article penned by Richard Owen.

 

Marconi had been running different experiments with various transmitters. One of those experiments was installing a shortwave radio telephone to keep a line open between the Vatican City and the pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, separated by a distance of around 30 kilometers. The year was 1932 — just one year after the inauguration of the Vatican Radio, a project also pioneered by Marconi.

Both events took place, not surprisingly, during the papacy of Pius XI — a pope known for his modernizing drive: he founded the Vatican Observatory and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, renovated the Vatican Libraries, and was the first one to use the radio for pastoral purposes. Marconi and the pontiff were somehow kindred spirits, but only when it came to technology. Politically, they could not have been any more at odds with each other. Whereas there is growing evidence that the inventor supported Mussolini’s anti-Semitic policies, Pius XI was the author of  the three major encyclicals against the totalitarian systems of the 20th century: Non abbiamo bisogno (“We Do Not Need to Acquaint You,” against Italian fascism); Mit brennender sorge (“With Deep Anxiety,” against Nazi Germany) and Divini redemptoris (“Divine Redeemer,” against atheistic communism). 

But who or what do you say creation is? It's us too.

But who or what do you say creation is? It's us too.

 

20210107T1632-FAITH-ALIVE-7-2-1012330.jpg

A rare earth open-pit mine is pictured Jan. 30, 2020, in Mountain Pass, California. The encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for our Common Home" encourages "a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet." (CNS/Reuters/Steve Marcus)
A rare earth open-pit mine is pictured Jan. 30, 2020, in Mountain Pass, California. The encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for our Common Home" encourages "a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet." (CNS/Reuters/Steve Marcus)

This past Sunday's Gospel (Mark 8:27-35) is all about identity and the consequences of how we understand one another and ourselves. Jesus asks his followers to relay what people have been saying about him. Maybe unsure of what to make of his own divine calling, Jesus solicits feedback and turns to his closest friends to get their take: "But who do you say that I am?"

On the one hand, this query is a familiar one to all of us. Despite what neighbors, colleagues, strangers and even anonymous social media trolls might say, we know that what really matters is what those who know us best think about us. Indeed, what your community, friend circle, spouse or family say about you can reveal a lot.

Yet, on the other hand, this evangelical back-and-forth may seem strange to some of us because many Christians are used to thinking about Jesus' full divinity without considering the growth, development and fully human dimensions — like insecurity, personal doubt or fear — that he surely experienced too.

What I have always loved about the Markan account we heard proclaimed last weekend is the way in which Peter, representing all the disciples, seems to get it so right at first and then gets it so very wrong in the end.

In other words, Peter is correct to announce that Jesus is the Christ, but he immediately refuses to accept what that identity actually means. He refuses to listen to what God in Jesus Christ is revealing to him. And I believe that has a lot to do with what was triggered deep within Peter: He knew on some level that accepting the truth of what it means to be the Christ — that he "must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days" — would have serious consequences for those who associated with and followed Jesus.

 

While preachers and Scripture commentators the world over have many wonderful things to say about this gospel exchange, I found myself reflecting this past weekend on a different question of identity and another kind of serious consequence that comes from whether or not one is willing to accept the true meaning of that identity.

What I was thinking about was the annual "Season of Creation" that we are currently celebrating (or should be celebrating), which runs from Sept. 1 through the feast of St. Francis of Assisi on Oct. 4. It is an international and ecumenical project that invites all Christians and people of goodwill to spend these weeks reflecting, praying, learning, celebrating and committing to action in response to global climate change and ecological degradation.

This year's "Season of Creation" precedes the important United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, that is scheduled from Oct. 31 through Nov. 12, and that Pope Francis is planning to attend along with dozens of other world leaders. In anticipation of this event, the pope joined Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury in issuing an ecumenical joint statement urging broad commitment in fighting the destruction of the planet.

Returning to Sunday's Gospel, I found myself reflecting on the question Jesus poses to his disciples about his own identity and imagined what God might ask us — Jesus' modern-day disciples — about our own identity and that of the rest of creation.

What or who do you say creation is?

20200827T1400-CREATION-MIGRATION-CZERNY-1004282.jpg

A newly hatched baby sea turtle makes its way into the Mediterranean Sea for the first time along a beach in Pervolia, Cyprus, Aug. 27, 2020. (CNS/Reuters/Yiannis Kourtoglou)
A newly hatched baby sea turtle makes its way into the Mediterranean Sea for the first time along a beach in Pervolia, Cyprus, Aug. 27, 2020. (CNS/Reuters/Yiannis Kourtoglou)

One of the major contributing factors to the ecological crisis we face today is the centuries-old denialism that has informed our thinking about what it means to be human and what it means to be other-than-human. Put bluntly: we human beings have thought of ourselves as apart from and above the rest of creation. For many of us, when we hear the words "creation" or "nature," we think of something outside ourselves, something that provides the background to our interests and activities.

But the scientific and theological truth is that we are creation too! Whether you look to Genesis 1 and recount that we are made alongside "all kinds of living creatures: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds" (Genesis 1:24) or Genesis 2 and see that, like every other creature, we humans are also made "out of the clay of the ground" (Genesis 2:7), the central creation narratives include us human beings too. This is found throughout the Bible.

Natural science also confirms this fundamental truth, revealing that our physical composition is absolutely no different from that of other aspects of creation. We are made of the same elements (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, etc.) and when we get down to the quantum level, our kinship with all the rest of God's creation becomes even more evident.

Taking Jesus' prompt to heart, I believe we have to interrogate what or who it is we understand "creation" to be. Sadly, our species is filled with naysayers like St. Peter, who have a very narrowly defined sense of what creation means. I would venture to guess that many well-meaning Christians, if asked, "But who do you say creation is?" would respond that it is basically anything outside the human context. It also seems to me that, like St. Peter, many of our sisters and brothers resist the true inclusivity of creation because they do not like the consequences.

The indisputable fact is that you and I are creation too.

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The indisputable fact is that you and I are creation too. When we talk about "care for creation," we ought to think about responding to both human and nonhuman creation (that is, hearing the "cry of the earth and cry of the poor" that Pope Francis discusses in "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home"). Additionally, we should recall that not only are we interrelated as members of God's family of creation, but also we are also inextricably interdependent. We rely on the rest of creation to care for and sustain us in ways that we simply cannot do on our own.

If we learn to rethink what it is we mean by creation to include ourselves as part of it, one consequence will be to recognize, as St. Francis did centuries ago, that we are truly siblings with all other creatures. This realization should prompt us to take to heart care for creation not only because it makes the future of our species more comfortable and secure, but also because we have a moral obligation arising from a kind of cosmic familial responsibility. Just as we are called to love and care for one another in our family units, so too we might begin to recognize God's call to care for one another in the family of creation.

This may seem to some like a naive or romantic view of the world, but as Scripture, theology and science affirm, this is the truest way to understand what it is when we talk about creation. During this "Season of Creation," may we take some time to reflect not only on nonhuman creation as something apart from us that needs our attention, but also the fact that our duty to care for creation arises from the fact that we are also part of creation.

10 Highlights from the Eucharistic Congress in Hungary

10 Highlights from the Eucharistic Congress in Hungary

EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS

Attila KISBENEDEK | AFP

Philip Kosloski - published on 09/16/21

If you missed the International Eucharistic Congress in Hungary, here are 10 highlights from the inspirational event.

Thousands of Catholics from around the world gathered at the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Budapest, Hungary, from September 5-12, 2021, sharing their testimonies of Eucharistic faith.

Here are 10 highlights from the IEC, along with information on how you can still participate in this “Eucharistic revival.”

 

Prayer of the IEC

Heavenly Father,
source of all life!
Send us your Holy Spirit,
that we may recognize
and grow in the love of Christ
present in the Eucharist,
who handed himself over for us!
He is our Lord and our Master,
our friend and our food,
our healer and our peace.
Give us the courage to take his strength
and his joy to every person!
Grant us, that the time of the preparation
and the celebration
of the Eucharistic Congress
would serve the spiritual renewal
of our community, cities, nation,
Europe and the world!
Amen.

Prayer that the IEC will spark a renewal in Eucharistic devotion

Pope Francis’ homily

The Eucharist is here to remind us who God is. It does not do so just in words, but in a concrete way, showing us God as bread broken, as love crucified and bestowed. We can add ritual elements, but the Lord is always there in the simplicity of Bread ready to be broken, distributed and eaten. To save us, Christ became a servant; dto give us life, he accepted death. We do well to let ourselves be taken aback by those daunting words of Jesus. And this leads us to the second step.

 
 

Pope’s homily to close Eucharistic Congress (full text)

Eucharist as a source of peace

Cardinal Gérald Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec, Canada, spoke on the reality that the Eucharist is a sacrament of peace.

 

He began his talk by quoting Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, “By its nature the Eucharist is the sacrament of peace.”

Lacroix expressed his belief that the reception of the Eucharist is connected to Jesus’ words after his resurrection, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19).

Quebec cardinal explains how the Eucharist is a source of peace at IEC

Former Protestant shares her testimony

Suddenly she found herself crying and emotionally charged when she opened her eyes and saw the Eucharistic monstrance in front of her.

She said in her testimony, “I didn’t know what a monstrance was. I didn’t know what a Eucharistic procession was. All I knew was that Jesus himself was standing in front of me at that moment.“

Former Protestant missionary shares Eucharistic encounter at IEC

How to live a Eucharistic life

Mary Healy, professor of Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, spoke at the IEC about how to live a Eucharistic life.

She explained how the Eucharist invites us to live a particular missionary spirituality, going out into the world and offering our own lives back to God.

Healy emphasized how every Mass should be an opportunity to talk with God and ask him how he is calling us to live in the world.

Mary Healy reflects on how to live a Eucharistic life at IEC

Seeking intimacy with Jesus in the Eucharist

Damian Stayne, founder of the Catholic community Cor et Lumen Christi [The Heart and Light of Christ] in England, challenged Catholics to seek greater intimacy with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

Stayne is under the firm belief that everyone is called to an intimate encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist and that it is possible to experience his presence in a unique and personal way.

Charismatic speaker relates powerful Eucharistic experience at IEC

Blueprint for parish renewal

Fr. Michael White, a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, pastor of the Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland, and author of the popular book Rebuilt, shared his three key strategies for parish renewalin a previously recorded video that was presented at the congress.

Fr. Michael White provides blueprint for parish renewal at IEC

Images of pope’s visit to Budapest

The Holy Father had meetings with Hungary’s political leaders and bishops, as well as representatives of the Ecumenical Council of Churches and Jewish communities of the country.

He then went on to celebrate the open-air Mass at Heroes’ Square, the closing event of the Eucharistic Congress, before departing for Slovakia where he will spend the next few days.

Enjoy these pictures of his quick but important trip.

(In images) Pope closes Eucharistic Congress with trip to Budapest

Feeding the poor

Ahead of the congress, the Catholic Church of Hungary organized a meal for the less fortunate. The poor and homeless were treated to a lunch that included biblical-themed pastries. These baked goods, cookies, were dubbed “A Bite of Heaven,” and were made from ingredients from the biblical era.

International Eucharistic Congress feeds poor with biblical-inspired pastries

Mission Cross symbolism

Since 2018, a Mission Cross has been traveling around Hungary to help promote the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest, which was held from September 5-12, 2021.