It’s a small sentence slipped at the end of a long exchange. That day, Cardinal Pietro Parolin received, behind closed doors, some forty representatives of the Catholic Action movements, who had come on pilgrimage to Rome. The moment comes when these French Catholics, after an hour and a half, approach the ” number two “ of the Holy See the evolution of French society, and the decline of Catholicism. Thoughtful, the cardinal then slips, in French: “When I look at Rome in the evening, on my terrace, I tell myself that two thousand years ago, there were two. »
To hear the cardinal, discreet and usually stingy with confidences, and to imagine him staring into the distance, at the end of interminable days, we would almost see Peter and Paul again entering together this pagan Rome where, according to tradition, they came with the idea of implanting the Church in the heart of the empire, before dying there as martyrs.
“It was a call that we continue our work, even in a post-Christian world”, reports one of those who witnessed the exchange. Doubtless also we should see there a proof of confidence and hope on the part of one of the most senior leaders of the Church, who devoted almost two hours that day to meeting these French Catholics.
However, these faithful are sometimes considered, in France, as belonging to endangered movements. “From this point of view, the reception in Rome was really out of step with what some of us experience on the ground…” Perhaps Cardinal Parolin imagined them as descendants of Peter and Paul.