carnet de route
In Bruges  
The Kurdish question  
The reliquary and the canvas tents  
A spiritual force  
In Bruges  
I was delighted to revisit this magnificent city as the sun was disappearing on the horizon. Above all I was glad to see again the friendly faces of people overjoyed to meet me, especially Jan, a faithful Dutch translator for the Partenia site.
amis de Partenia
A convivial evening spent with friends of Partenia had been arranged by a priest at his place with before-dinner drinks and a copious cheeseboard. During the conversation, he went to get a file containing pictures and newspaper clippings dealing with my dismissal from Evreux in January 1995.
« A crowd of 1,000 people gathered at Bruges Cathedral » he remembered. I am grateful to my Flemish friends for this mobilization;
Later that evening, Jan took me out for a tour of the light-filled city. A delightful experience! A pleasure for the eyes.
The next day, there was the annual meeting of the Movement « the Gospel in our lives » and that of « for democracy in our society and the churches ».
I never get tired of looking at the faces of these people coming from all over. Faces full of experience, gleaming with the joy of referring to the Man of Nazareth who has the words of life. The crowd who had invaded the Bruges Cathedral in 1995 is still progressing on their way with more maturity.
Bruges en nuit These people are more responsive to the evangelical message for freedom than to the church as an institution. They are searching for sources to quench their thirst without being satisfied with the prescriptions of the law. To practice justice and love means a lot to them and that brings them to where people are hurt and abandoned. How not to rejoice! The evangelical seed has fallen on good earth. This assembly would not be concerned by its survival because it is called for a rebirth. Meeting with it is even better than Bruges at night!
haute en page  
The Kurdish question  
solidarité I was invited to Strasbourg where the Kurdish community is in great number by the president of the Association « the friends of the Kurdish people ». These people, forgotten by history, are still without a State.
They are dispersed in Turkey (15 millions), in Iran (6.3 millions), in Iraq (4.5 millions) and in Syria (1.7 million).
The Kurds of Turkey have in vain requested a political and cultural autonomy. In 1984, the armed combat by the PKK (the Labour Party of workers of Kurdistan) began. During 15 years, this conflict has claimed a toll of 35,000 dead. Thousands of villages of Kurdistan were destroyed and more than two million were displaced and have enlarged the shantytowns of Istanbul and Ankara.
In 1999, the head of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, was arrested. A ceasefire was declared. But in 2004, the guerilla resumed. The PKK concentrated in the Iraqi mountains along the Turkish frontier. One hundred thousand Turkish soldiers were assembled at the border, ready to step in.
The president asked me to speak first. Which I dislike. Hearing the others helps me to adjust my remarks. Facing me, there were Kurdish men with distinctive black moustache.
To me, the Kurdish people make me think about the Palestinian people. Two people that have been fighting so many years for their autonomy. But the solution is not military. It lies in political negotiations.
armée Turquie
The next person to speak was an Italian, member of the European parliament. Until now, the international community has adopted an attitude of indulgence towards Turkey because economic and strategic issues are important. Today the situation is changing with the place occupied by the autonomous Kurdistan of Iraq. The Kurdish question is more than ever a highly topical issue.
The evening ended by a delicious buffet prepared by our Kurdish friends.
haute en page  
The reliquary and the canvas tents  
When I went to meet the families who were camping in small red tents near the Paris Stock Exchange, I could not help but to go to the nearby Our Lady of Victories’ Basilica. On one side, the street with its slogans, its screams, its atmosphere of demonstration, on the other side a church full of people in an atmosphere of prayer and peace.  
Why was there so many people gathered in the church? It is because the Saint Theresa of Holy Jesus’ reliquary was there. I saw a great quantity of lighted candles. Women on their knees who were praying with one hand placed on the magnificent reliquary. On the nearby altar, there is the statue of Our Lady of the Victories who had impressed so much Theresa of Lisieux when she visited the church. In the chancel, the Blessed Sacrament was in expository. In the side nave, visitors were discovering an exhibition on Saint Theresa.
reliques de Sainte Thérèse
sans logement Are all these people visiting the basilica preoccupied by the people living in substandard housing who will be spending the night under the tent? Do they even know about them?
My impression was there are two worlds that do not meet. On one side, people come to pray the reliquary of Saint Theresa, on the other one; people come to support the fight for the people living in substandard housing.
The night has fallen. It was cold. I came back to mix with the population standing near the red tents. I was saying to myself: « under each of this tent, there is a human being. It is the human being, the living person who is sacred. It is even better than the relics ».
At dawn, the policemen came to remove the canvas tents and brutally expel all those that were there.
As for the Saint Theresa’s relics, they were carried in procession to another Basilica, the Sacred Heart of Montmartre.
haute en page  
A spiritual force  
à Jebenhausen I came at Göppingen in the region of Stuttgart, on autumn, at this time of the year where the trees have put on their fineries. In the parish where I had been invited, I was expected to speak in the evening and to have some exchange with the assembly. On the Sunday morning, the mass would end with a shared meal.
During the few hours spent together, I paid attention to the movement that can develop among people. Will the atmosphere change? Will there be a kind of inspiration in the assembly? You can’t expect all things for granted.
But something did happen that brought us close together. The participants started talking openly and sometimes even of their fears of opening up to others. When the fear of others leaves us, we discover we are brothers.
It is something to experience the simplicity of a meeting without prejudice, without playing roles or wearing masks, to have access to a person within a relationship of trust.
passer ensemble
I told of a recent anecdote: One day I was visiting a prisoner and someone asked me: « what did he do? » I answered: « I do not know, I never ask this sort of question ».
« But, is he a believer? »
Again, I answered: « I do not know ».
« Then, he said to me, what did you talk about? » « I listened to a man who was telling me his suffering. »

The faces were like pictures of an autumn giving light: they were expressing the joy of meeting.