Log-book: May 1998
|A priest in a container||Young people of Naples|
|Easter in prison||The Sans-Papiers in the City of Tours|
|Partenia: some figures|
A priest in a container
The gypsies gather together and are pleased to welcome us. Sitting on a chair that belongs to a fortune teller I have before me these marvellous children who observe me with a naughty faces. The weather is lovely. We are feeling happy all together.
Alessandro has left his apartment in order to lend it to a young father together with his daughter. And he is using a container for shelter. Together with the base community he denounces the scandal of the 15 000 empty lodgings in Florence while at the same time many families have no access to decent housing.
Young people of Naples
In Naples, as in Salerno, I had the joy of spending the morning with young people between the ages of 15-18, during a school gathering. They were about 200. I find they are wide awake, have no complexes and are in love with life.
I started by telling them: "I did not see the Vesuvius this morning because of the clouds. But I can see you and you are worth more than the Vesuvius." This made them ring out in laughter. Communication was established. In front of everybody, some of them came up to ask questions at the microphone. "What makes you live?", "Do you have doubts about God ?", "What makes you suffer most ?"; "Can one live together with hate ?", "Can one be successful without eliminating other people ?" "Is there any chance that in the future there will be fewer excluded people ?".
They knew how to clap at their own questions, and sometimes forgot to
clap at my answers. I did not feel bored whilst I was with them... Are they
not worth more than the Vesuvius ?
Easter in prison
We are enclosed in a large room but which is too small to hold us all. We are to remain there for three hours, which must be considered an exception. But those three hours seem like one hour only, because we are very happy to be together for Easter. In an atmosphere of friendship, meditation, of prayer.
Just as he promised, Jesus is among us. His presence encourages the sharing of the Word that announces the Resurrection, the passage from death into life, the walls to be got over, the barriers to be taken from our hearts.
Then we sing together with great energy : "Rise up and walk."
I shall remember this Easter in prison for a long time because it brings
out the best in us.
The "Sans-Papiers" (Foreigners holding no documents) in the City of Tours in France
The Support Committee of the "sans-papiers" organised a meeting. I am invited to speak . The moment is very special: churches are occupied by the "sans-papiers"; there are demonstrations at the airport of Roissy in order to oppose the expulsion of the foreigners; the Home Office is getting harsher.
From the tribune, I look out at the gathering: What a huge potential of energy and of commitment in this assembly! What a lot of experience of struggles and of resistances, carried out at the base, in organisations, trade-unions, churches.
In spite of the risks and of the disencouragement, these people are always there, ready to mobilize again. For them, solidarity must not cease. Many ask to speak. First of all, a young Maroccan declares: "As from tomorrow I am no longer allowed to remain in this country, but I do not want to leave. My life and roots are here."
The debate is very dignified and close to reality. Citizenship is not
a vain word. A breath of hope passes through the assembly. The &laqno;sans
papiers» of Tours are not alone. After this evening, they know that
we are at their side, determined to act.
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