Joseph is a long-standing friend. Living in the suburb,
his family is known to be very hospitable, with a deep faith
that would certainly please God.
Joseph devotes himself to the welfare of the poor students
from Vietnam. Most of his salary goes towards this. With the
agreement of the Town Hall authorities, he has installed some
mobile homes on waste ground to shelter a dozen of them, boys
and girls, Catholics and Buddhists. I had the pleasure to be
invited for diner.
Inside the mobile home they huddled together to give room
for every body. We began by singing and praying. They introduced
themselves. Two of them had already finished their university
studies. They have found jobs and lodgings in Paris. They regularly
come and visit the community that they consider as their own.
Three others could not enter a seminar in their country of origin
because of the refusal of the authorities. Becoming a priest
one day was a reason for them to come to France.
We had a Vietnamese diner. I am stricken by the simplicity
and the joyfulness of this community so much evangelical! They
were sharing the small amount they had and this made them brothers.
I left them late in the evening not before having given them
my blessing at their request.
- A televised report on
the double sentence.
- Let us recall that double sentence means prison and expulsion
out of the country. A person who has committed a crime is sent
to jail. If the person is not a French citizen, he/she is definitely
or temporarily condemned to get out of the French territory after
having completed his/her sentence. Often these foreigners have
been in France since their childhood. France is their homeland.
They have their family there, sometimes a wife and children.
They have their job, their friends. They usually don't know the
country of which they are citizen. For them it is an exile, a
social death. Having nothing to lose, their last resource is
the hanger strike.
I came to see the Bertrand Tavernier's movie "
Stories about broken lives". I recognized the
faces of the persons in Lyon who were on hanger strike. I appreciated
that they could express themselves with so much passion and anger.
An impressive movie but we were only four people in the room
to watch it!
The TV Channels were not interested in this movie. Only a TV
report was done in a café in Paris. Bertrand Tavernier
commits himself to make his movies. It is a pleasure to listen
to him. I underlined the just struggle of the immigrants without
a permit; their determination often attracts admiration.
Laicism and the great religions.
The Cultural Center of Angers was full.
I was among the speakers, with a Rabbi, an Imam, a Protestant
and an Historian. Certainly the public is really very interested.
For many persons the word laicism means autonomy of the human
being, in his conscience and his reason. It is the condition
of freedom to be oneself. It is also the condition of democracy.
But some persons think that the human advancement can only be
achieved by rejecting any religious feeling and that religion
has to stay in the church. To me, the speeches showed that Islam
has still to deal with laicism, as laicism has also to deal with
In regards to the fundamentalists, it seems to me important
to say that we are first citizens before believers. Belief comes
afterwards. The act to become a member of a religion can be of
value only if we have the right of not becoming a member. I finished
my speech by recalling the Prime Minister's words:
" The Churches have to express their view on the society
matters, it seems to me normal, even necessary"
I said: "Amen" every body laughed!
Peace is possible.
- An evening meeting was organized by the Movement for Peace
in the suburb of Paris about " Build the peace today"
It was the right time because violence and dispute were raging
between Israeli and Palestinians.
It came to me to speak about a recent book written by the
secretary of the Movement for Peace "
Globalization of Peace". During two hours we
autographed our books in an important bookshop in the town.
- The welcome was warm and people were happy to be there,
to shake hands, to say a few hearty words. And I don't forget
women who were so pleased to embrace me
The audience were interested by peace. It was also their problem.
This popular unanimity was making me happy. The problem of peace
was not only left in the hands of experts and politicians. The
citizens have their say. We are immerged into a culture of domination.
We have learned to be the strongest, to be the best one who eliminates
the others. We have learned to succeed at the expense of the
others. However a culture of peace is starting to merge in families,
schools where we learn not to respond by violence to violence.
When I was speaking, some body passed me a paper. During the
following discussion I read the paper, its author having had
" Hello, my name is Noemie. I want to tell you some thing.
One day in the metro a young boy attacked me. He wanted my money
and my cellular phone. I looked at him and said: " I have
no money only a cell phone, but I am not going to give it to
you! " "Why?" Because I need it to call
my mate and prepare a speech about peace in the world" "
Then keep it," he said to me. He went out but then came
back to me to kiss me on the cheek. It is true! " All
the best Noemie.
The audience applauded. Noemie remember us that peace and youth
can go together.