carnet de route
Pierre de Locht has departed  
A village in Ardèche  
Conference at Lisbon  
Pierre de Locht has departed  
Pierre de Locht I have lost a friend, very close to me since I had left Evreux in 1995. It is not without emotion that I went to his funeral held in the Brussels’ Cathedral, packed with friends and family. I much appreciated that the celebration was at the cathedral. For this priest, a theologian moralist, who had received disciplinary action from the Church, was it not a way to recognize him?
Looking at the casket placed on the floor, I remembered these last ten years when Pierre had come to Paris regularly to work on our « Catechism with a taste of freedom » and afterward on the biblical commentaries. We enjoyed working together, to compare our views, to enrich one another’s thoughts.
Pierre, who had suffered because of the Church, had always acted with great humanity. The child in him marvelled easily from the things of life, with a positive glance at people. « I am surprised, he told me, of the impact of my books on public opinion. Many people recognize themselves and feel liberated. »
He very much liked the title of my first book: « They gave me so much happiness ». He laughed and said « That a bishop can say that about the people in his diocese, that it is amazing! »
Mass ended with a last farewell to him who had given so much. I was thinking then about this very beautiful page of his book published a short time before his death. Pierre gave an in-depth description of the last phase of life, an invitation to have a receiving attitude toward the hereafter that cannot be conquered but which is given to us:
« Everything, at this phase, invites to silence. The way of being cared by one self, our merits and virtues, our alleged rights to a reward, and even our thoughts on the hereafter, on eternal bliss, all this does not count. It is the silence – and even a certain silence from God – necessary so that all that exists at this moment is confidence. No more means and provisions for the journey. All there is to do is to be confident, a confidence that nothing can fill in, weaken or limit. An extreme confidence. The silence imposed at this ultimate phase is first our own silence: a silence of all that has motivated us, given us the urge to fight, to be creative; a silence also of our images of God, our images of the hereafter… Everything by which we have a tendency to reassure or trouble us. So that what is left is but waiting with confidence: « How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God! »(Marc 10,23)
Is it also God’s silence? Who can tell? Anyway, our silence, made only of abandon, is vital to make way for the love of God, that can only give sense, life and joy to this passage. To this Easter.  (In “Christians of today. A contradictory engagement » (« Chrétiens aujourd’hui. Un engagement contradictoire ? » p.94))
This is how my friend Pierre has left us.
haute en page  
A village in Ardèche  
Ardèche holder I was invited to Saint-Michel-de-Chabrillanoux, a village lost in the mountains,
by the FSU, the Unitarian Trade Union Federation of Ardèche (south east of France, note of the translator) . A trade union that has nothing to do with the Church but who took the risk of inviting me. There are two debates and two concerts. Fortunately, I had been invited for the debates!
I had taken the French high-speed train to Valence and there, a woman, unknown to me took me aboard her car and drove me through the mountains. Very rapidly, she shared with me her interrogations and her doubts: « Are you happy to be a believer? And what about life after death? The resurrection of Jesus that cannot be true. What do you think, I am not a believer myself, but I am searching for the truth?
Knowing that the duration of the trip by car would be one hour long, I already felt tired.
« You are searching, I said to her, thus you are on the way. Me, having the joy of being a believer, it might be that I am not searching enough ».
At Saint-Michel-de-Chabrillanoux, there is a catholic church at the end of the village, and a protestant church at the other end. This area had known harsh rivalry between Catholics and Protestants. On the square of the village centre, there is a bar. It is a very lively place. Without hesitation, I went in to say hello to the people.
On a long table, local dishes as well as wine products had been placed. It was the abundance of a celebration. Everyone served himself and then joined others at different tables.
The meal was followed by debates on the devastating globalization, the place of the African continent, the French immigration policy. There is also a group called “Rebelled Desert” (« Désert rebel ») that fought for equitable farming. Many had an affinity with Africa and shared their experience.
liée à l'Afrique
A news reporter confided in me « Here, you all think the same thing. This leaves no place for protest ».
I answered him: « Fine! That’s a relief. »
haute en page  
Conference at Lisbon  
It was the 17th Conference of the European Network of Religious Denominations and Liberties.
It regrouped Christians from different European countries who have learned from experience that today’s world is being built beyond the borders: whether they be boundaries of cultural, political, religious, geographical, historical… I admired these Christians moulded by open-mindedness and exchanges, who aim to work for the whole humanity.
As a sign of open-mindedness, a request was rapidly made for a workshop on African countries. There are many affinities between Europe and Africa. Some situations are intolerable like Darfur. Propositions for information requests and pressure group actions must be brought at European Institutions level.
Christians, members of religious orders, bishops that commit themselves for justice, are carrying on courageous actions. Some of their published documents are prophetic and worth to be known.
I was scheduled to speak with a Portuguese woman on: « The people of God in a world on the move ».
I had the chance to have open-minded Christians in front of me, who meet on the road, people from all horizons. As Jesus did, they lived this decisive experience. The Man from Nazareth met people who, within the framework of the Law, would have never had the chance to know God.
rencontrer Dieu In the Lisbon Dominican Monastery, the Eucharist closed the Conference. A Pentecostal Eucharist, with African music, while each and everyone was able to speak in his own language.