Log-book: January 2000
On the 5th floor of the Prefecture of Paris, I brought along an Algerian man without permit to stay in France, a woman civil servant approached me" I am from Tunisia. I have waited a long time to meet you, other civil servants would also like to meet you, is it possible? I could only agree. Later an appointment is taken, at noon in front of Notre-Dame. Six persons were waiting for me. They took me to a restaurant of Isle St. Louis were a table was reserved. In order to have enough time to speak; their office directors allowed them several hours free from work. They were young both daunted and delighted. Introduction being made we start speaking about the reception of foreigners at the Prefecture: " It is not easy for us; we receive directives, it is not us who decide. We cannot regularize every body; it will be an open door to invasion!" A statement heard so many times!
"If it is not easy for us, what about for the foreigners who have to perform an obstacle course, going from window to window, from notification to notification, with endless waiting, to be said that still some thing is missing in their record!"
Our meeting started well, also the meal. I felt that their conscience
was questioned by these talks, that they would look at the foreigners in
another way. So we promised to meet again. But before leaving, the Tunisian
woman gave me a gift: a small box from her country containing a rosary.
The Association for Human Rights is organizing at UNESCO a round-table on the legal status of under age foreigners without legal permit. The great auditorium is full. Excellent speeches from various associations, GISTI, France Terre d'Asile (France Country of Refuge), Nouvelles Moissons (New Harvests) including a judge for children under guardianship.
A literary Café
A Jew who declares he is a nonbeliever and a Moslem woman who affirms her belief are just married at the Town Hall. They wish soon to be blessed by me. He will read a text for explaining his thinking; she will read a passage of the Koran that makes sense for her.
They lead literary discussions in a Café, They invite me one evening to discuss about PACS (Pacte Civil de Solidarite, a new legal civil contract of solidarity between two persons of the same sex or not)
About thirty people are there, not knowing each other and from very different background: married people and bachelors, heterosexuals and homosexuals, parents having homosexual children. The exchange is animated. One states to be against marriage when another one states that PACS is nothing more than a lower class marriageMy Jewish friend has difficulties to calm the people. Something strikes me: in this discussion, at any time, no mention of the Church (Churches) as if they were offside, absent of the social debate.
The group listen to me willingly" PACS does not come out of principles, it is pragmatic. It starts from life, life of women and men, and it tries to give equal rights to all couples. It is not a threat to marriage. It is another look at the couple and the family. With time we will see what kind of novelty PACS will introduce to Society".
During three days, I had the pleasure to meet Belgian communities near Namura. I did not know them but I felt that I received something from them, and that I felt closer to Jesus.
I was think about Paul the Apostle who was impatient to meet Christians from Rome "to be in their home and cheered by them thanks to their commune faith." (Romans, 1, 12).
The communities greeted me with good heart and deep faith. At Sunday mass, emotion was visible. They had not been spared of ordeals and sufferings themselves.
With admiration, I learned that many of them came by bus to Evreux on January 1995. They also demonstrated in front of the bishop's palace of Namura and inside the cathedral: five years after they are still going.
Jesus is somebody that you receive in your heart. He always comes from over there. These communities told me some thing about Him. He is able to make people stand up. His presence does not end after his departure.
PS: Partenia some figures, 1998