Log-book: August 1998
|Katholikentag: a good harvest||In the Masonic Temple|
|Partenia: some figures|
Katholikentag: a good harvest
Slowly, the procession of the Blessed Sacrament pierced its way through the people in recollection. For is not the Feast of Corpus Christi the feast of the people of God, the feast of their dignity ? I was happy to be in the midst of living people, people who were sitting up and taking notice.
The Katholikentag gathered together some 25,000 Catholics. I was invited by the "We Are Church" Movement and had the joy of taking part in seminars and debates where there were many young people. A breath of freedom and hope permeated the gathering of the Katholikentag. The Church "from below" is being reborn. Christians are responsible people. They translate into action the demands of their conscience illuminated by the Gospels. Women are marvellously there, present and active. The Church "from below" recognises women fully. What joy for me to live the spring of this Church where so much becomes possible.
In the Masonic Temple
The great hall is full, with about 300 people present. The women are dressed in black. The Grand Master is presiding, surrounded by his council. As always the protocol is scrupulously respected. I am announced, welcomed, and asked to speak. The auditorium listens in a silence that one might qualify as religious. After my intervention about "The Church and secularisation" some difficult questions are addressed to me:
"If there has to be courage to leave, does it not also need courage in order to remain ? Does the audacity required to leave the Church have more merit than the audacity to remain within it ?"
"The experience that I have of the Church is not limited to a disciplinary measure or to institutional heaviness. The Church has given me access to the fountains that have given me life. It is the Church that has allowed me to listen to the Holy Scripture just as She received it. I listened to the Gospels just as Saint Agustine was able to do so in the 4th century or Saint Francis of Assis in the 13th century. The Christians with whom I share my life are for me the Church. If I left the Church I would leave them. I would feel I was practising treason."
The Church of Batignollles - I go regularly by to visit the 30 hunger strikers: Chinese, Turks, two from the Maghreb and a Frenchman who is taking part as a sign of solidarity.
In this Protestant Church I had the joy of becoming the godparent of a young Chinese woman who is not legalised as a resident of France. She gave me her photo which I always carry with me. She awaits my visit with impatience and knows that she can count on my solidarity.
Today the news is not good. There is consternation. The Prime Minister has refused to regularise those illegal residents who are employed "in a clandestine work place which is the result of criminal activity."
The hunger strikers, confused by all this, remain determined. Their struggle
is also ours. Their future commits us more than ever.
PS: Partenia some figures, 1997
Total number of pages published monthly on the WEB last year: 175
Total number of pages presented in seven laguages on the WEB last year: 63'875
Total number of visitors last year: 92'000
Increase of visitors last year: 22'000
Monthly average of visitors: 7'660
Number of e-mail messages received by Bishop Jacques Gaillot: 2'300
Number of e-mail messages received by the Webmaster: 346