A BRIGHTER PERIOD
The stakes of a recognition
- Five years of discrete and constant talks. Five years
of struggle to demonstrate the unfairness of the 1995 decision.
Five years of arguments and meetings to obtain that Jacques Gaillot
was at last understood. "Bishop of the excluded " At
the forefront of this fair battle: Partenia 2000. An account.
- "Back in favor" "Reconciled with his peers"
Recognized as the bishop of the excluded.." We should
not hide our joy behind a discrete modesty. The exchange of letters
between Louis-Marie Bille and Jacques Gaillot is a victory for
those who found scandalous the expulsion of the Bishop of Evreux
in 1995 by the Vatican. It is the same for all those who feel
part of the Partenia diocese. This agreement is the achievement
of one year of numerous and constant appeals to the Bishops.
At its very beginning, Partenia 2000 had for objective a permanent
dialogue with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in order to
avoid that the "Gaillot affair" was forgotten.
To make a Church alive in another way was not easy. How many
never answered our letters, or our questions? How many gave us
a meeting date three or four months after our request? How many,
supposedly understing our request, let us know that our fight
was hopeless? Even if the Apostolic Nonce in Paris received us
on January 15, 2000, shall we recall that it was under the action
of a demonstration by members of Partenia from abroad and all
parts of France and hundreds of illegal immigrants?
One does not need to be highly educated or rather a great theologian
to acknowledge that the faith in Christ invites to some break-up.
With us, in us, he breaks the servile links to authority bodies,
domination and pharaonic powers. How many times we were opposed
to the Institution, as if it was like a permanent credo. To those
who laugh when Partenia is mentioned, we suggest another kind
of religion than one of the Great Priests, protectors of the
Temple, another kind of authority than in Rome where they oppose
to any political evolution and defend the establish order. We
answer back joyfully that the Church history has not been made
from a few Bishops or a few clerics but with all the Christians!
Those who follow Jacques Gaillot on the way to Partenia like
freedom, they are not born from a less worthy lot of the Holy
Spirit than the more or less officially appointed canonists,
experts in Roman centralized Christianity.
Bishop in another way
"Cantare non extra chorum sed in choro" (Do
not sing out of the choir but in the choir). Jacques Gaillot
does not sing in the choir, how many times we have heard repeated
this sentence of Pope John Paul II! Is it no matter if the choir
sings out of tune or if every body has left the choir? This statement,
repeated, repeated again, was the only argument given to us upon
our many requests, to a point that even today we don't know what
Jacques Gaillot did to make this false note compared with the
original partition, the Gospel.
"We were wrong about Gaillot", was whispered
to us by some. The divorce was proclaimed but not on mutual agreement!
To look at Gaillot as a "casting mistake" tells
a lot. How a quite Director of a Seminar- as he was in 1968 -
can be transformed into a troubling Bishop? This questioned the
mode of selection of the elite by co-optation or similarity.
Is it necessary that a priest is proved to be compliant to be
selected for a Bishop responsibility? With Gaillot a virus has
filtered into the program. As an official, Jacques Gaillot has
taken the risk of a novel attitude and to question society about
injustice, exclusion, sexuality and racism.
When other Bishops stayed quite in their diocese, busy with their
administrative duties, he has chosen to delegate these activities
and to speak to the media. For the journalists that was the right
time. A Pope who was taking care of the communication and a Bishop
who was "daring to speak"! Many thought that
the Church has changed, becoming more transparent and some even
thought that some democracy was coming into this venerable Institution.
How many times we were recalled that the Church has "its
own way of working", that Jacques Gaillot failed to
fulfil his mission, and a final argument, that it is not up to
him to claim Partenia as a "diocese without frontiers"
for the service of the excluded. In short we were all wrong,
more so we were harmful for him by not asking him to stop speaking
and acting... Almost, we, his best friends, were another obstacle
to any reconciliation...
Partenia without frontiers
Gaillot was thrown out, he should have been more "respectful"
and stayed quite. Did their opponents think that injustice helped
to ascertain their authority? He could have obeyed and accepted
to be chaplain in a jail or in a hospital. Another time again,
Rome has forgotten that the troubling Bishop was not alone. Partenia
will not be a trinket, an ornamentation but a real diocese.
The novelty of Partenia is there. From a punishment, Partenia
becomes a space of freedom. Jacques Gaillot accepts a diocese
without frontiers and without a cathedral and in the same time,
Christians, more or less in agreement with the Institution, and
non-Christians recognize him as a Bishop. The time of arbitrary
decisions from Rome is over.
Evreux is fading away, Internet is arriving. Thousands of mails.
Questions and proposed answers. An electronic catechism is taking
shape, made of new considerations more related to our time and
its evolution. A logbook is written about Jacques Gaillot meetings
all over the world from Chiapas to a Parisian subway car.
"Created to fight against any kind of exclusion and to
promote communication and freedom of speech in the Church and
in the society", Partenia 2000 opened a new phase when
it was put up in the "Maison des Ensembles, MDE" or
Common House. This house is the oldest and the greatest squat
in Paris. This is a true difference with the other Bishops who
think, more or less with good faith, that they are caring for
the excluded. Partenia is not on the side, above, at the right
or at the left of the excluded, those who are "wounded
by life" as it is said to avoid a too close responsibility,
Partenia is in the middle. In August 1999, Partenia decided to
stay and help when 350 illegal immigrants occupied that house.
You don't chose whom to help! Partenia opens its door to who
knocks. Partenia ideal is to oppose to any exclusion without
any proselytism! The Gospel is not an anti-bullet jacket, or
a series of soft and sleepy talks but a risk to be taken.
Some Bishops, among them, Louis-Marie BillÈ, Jacques Noyer,
Georges Gilson, Gaston Poulain, Jacques David have accepted to
receive us, to listen to us, not like lost sheep or outcasts
but like authentic women and men of good will. "Welcome
Jacques Gaillot as another kind of Bishop, find a way, together",
we repeatedly said to them. In the first months of the year,
the Bishops and Jacques Gaillot had diner together. The project
of an exchange of letters was on its way.
Today the Church in France dares to take in hands its own business.
It is the Vatican's turn to listen to the people of Partenia
and to do something. In May 2000, something happened: two letters,
two great steps, two courageous texts, bringing future prospect