Log-book: August 2004

  The parishioners of Partenia Conflict in the city




The Bible

Special Edition

The parishioners of Partenia

Partenia en route A woman is standing waiting for a bus that seemed to take a long time to come. She came up to me and said: " From time to time I see you taking the bus and each time, I wanted to ask you a question. What should I do to find God? ".
" I was coming back from the suburbs where I was with Gipsy families threatened with expulsion. I had the feeling that God was there amongst these poor people. Right by their side."

Together we climb aboard the bus.
" I would like to believe, but I cannot. Yet, I do try to find God. "
" Like you, I am looking to find God. When we hold the hand of the poor, then we are on the way to God. "
I indicated I had to leave the bus. " Too bad " she told me.

In the subway, a young man that I thought to be from Indian origin came to sit next to me.
"Am I disturbing you? There is something I would like to ask you. I am not a Christian but I read the Bible and there is a word from Jesus that I do not understand: " To a man who has, more will be given. But he who does not have, even what he has will be taken away."
" I wish your question were about another word. This word is mysterious to me. I have searched long to find its meaning. "

richesse humaine "We have inside each of us spiritual and human richness. They are others. One who tries to keep them for himself, will loose them. What we accept to give to others will be transformed and multiplied."
"The man thanked me for this explanation.

On the train leaving Montpellier to go to Paris, there was no seating available. I stood close to the doors, happy to have been able to be on board.
Quickly, a man of Asian origin jumped up from his foldup seat and said: " Take my seat", and I am not doing this because you are a " monsignor ", but because you are an old man ".
I took his seat. This man knew how to see the human being before the position!






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Conflict in the city
The inhabitants of "Petit-Bard", a working-class borough of Montpellier, are not throwing in the towel. In a derelict building, unfit for habitation, a fire caused one death and many casualties. The poor families decided to occupy a near by gymnasium. They refused to go back in their apartments and were asking the city officials to relocate them.

dans le ghetto "Petit-Bard" is a city of immigrants that has become a ghetto over the years.
The families, a majority of which comes from Morocco, do not want to be pushed around anymore.

Asked to bring them support, I joined them in a visit at the abandoned building. What a shame to see the bad state of this building!

Signs are covering the walls and it can be read: " "Petit-Bard": Abandoned city. Endangered City. Danger".
With the "Movement for Immigrants and their Lodging", the Christian association Cimade and the association "Lodging Rights" (DAL) and other associations, a resistance is organized that lead to a demonstration of more than 1000 people in the city. This had never happened before.

cité abandonnée

It was the first time that the inhabitants of "Petit-Bard" get together and wanted to see it through. They understood that nothing would happen without them and their fight.
Till now the authorities have turned a deaf ear.




In the Parisian suburbs, Gipsy families who are continually expelled from their camping have found refuge on a land owned by the General Council. They have been promised to not being expelled. But the town officials don't think that way and try everything they can to make them leave.

soutien pour les roms
Invited by the organisations that help them, I went to meet the families who are living in tents.
At the end of the afternoon, a demonstration was held in the street close to their place.

It was a stormy meeting. It was even difficult to be heard. About fifteen persons, including the Secretary of the Mayor's Office, were opposing to our demonstration and shouting at us.
 The leader of the demonstration asked me to speak. At this moment, the opponents, all together, left conspicuously the meeting.

While coming back to Paris, I was thinking: today, in our non-religious societies, one is not rejected because of his faith in God or his beliefs. That is a personal choice that is a part of our privacy. But rejection comes from our solidarity with the poorest who live near us. For many caring for the poor is disturbing.