Otherness and complementarity

“When you see all these Catholics, so well, it’s hard to understand that the Church is not doing better! “ The somewhat naive remark of this participant in the great Ignatian gathering in Marseille last weekend can make you smile. But there is some truth. In the Phocaean city, they were more than 8,000, coming from all over France, to participate in this meeting of Jesuit-inspired movements.

THE CONTEXT. For All Saints’ Day, the great Ignatian family gathered in Marseille

Spiritual community like CLC, movement of reflection for executives (MCC), youth movements, executives of prestigious educational institutions, engineering schools, charitable, spiritual and social associations… In short, the powerful Jesuit network demonstrated of its strength, its dynamism. The participants are all committed Catholics. During the weekend, they fearlessly confronted the realities of Marseille, migrants, poverty, handicaps. All are eager to discuss, reflect, act. They are all pretty well integrated in life. There was undoubtedly what French Catholicism does today most structured in terms of commitment and investment in society, attention to others, reflection …

→ REPORT. In Marseille, young people grateful for the heritage of Saint Ignatius

The naive astonishment of this participant was therefore not without foundation. Because indeed, in spite of this manifest wealth, this “Catholic people” did not really make the proud, in Marseilles… On the contrary, the Sauvé report on sexual abuse in the Church and its revelations were in all hearts, and all conversations . Disgust, anger, shame … And amazement, above all, at what the Church, “their Church” had been able to produce.

Basically, this is perhaps the most surprising. These Catholics are themselves confronted, in their professional and social environments, with complex organizations. They know the flaws, the risks. So why this difficulty in seeing and accepting the weaknesses and flaws of the religious institution to which they belong? Why has it taken all this time to get rid of this “illusion of perfection” which could for so long clutter the imagination of believers who were singularly lacking in lucidity about the “holy Church”? So “holy” that one did not recognize the right to question her … How could these well informed, educated citizens be able to let themselves be lulled by an ecclesiastical “boxwood” tongue, without showing a minimum of lucidity? And by that, let the sexuality, the power, the sacred be led astray to this point?

→ READ. In Marseille, the meditation of an Ignatian nun during mass

“We need a lot of humility in our speeches and a lot of courage in our actions to reform ourselves …”, indeed noted the superior of the xavières, Sister Christine Danel, to whom the Archbishop of Marseilles gave the floor during the homily, during the mass of All Saints, in a highly symbolic gesture. A gesture which, in these troubled times, undoubtedly had a profoundly prophetic air. For inviting a woman to speak at a Mass was quite simply to recognize that, precisely, the Church is not made of angels above all, but simply of human beings, deeply human, and therefore gendered, man – and woman too!

To acknowledge “This otherness and complementarity” necessary for any human institution, in the words of Sister Christine Danel, who added lucidly: “We still have a long way to go to deploy it in all areas of the life of the Church, including access to the word and to governance. ” A Church made up of human beings, simply: basically, it all starts there …


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