This is an extract from an article by Dominique Greiner, editor in chief of Croire-La Croix.
Pope Francis is due to visit Iraq from today.
Pope Francis’s journey has a strong interfaith element. It’s notable that he is going to Ur, the tradition starting point for the journey of Abraham the common patriarch of the three great monotheisms. Those who claim him as such cannot but recognise each other as brothers and sisters, and work together for the future of their country. This call to fraternity is an invitation not to remain prisoners of the sufferings of the past and to work for the material and spiritual rebirth of Iraq. It is a call which goes out to us too.
Since the First Friday of January is New Year’s Day, we open this year’s reflections with Pope Francis’s Intention for Evangelization:
Human Fraternity May the Lord give us the grace to live in full fellowship with our brothers and sisters of other religions, praying for one another, open to all.
We will continue to offer occasional reflections from people of different faiths or of no faith, but often a picture can say a thousand words. L’Arche in Syria and around the World includes Muslim and Christian, and people of different abilities and needs, coming together to bear living witness to human fraternity. God is patient, he takes his time to lead us home. Let’s pray for patience with each other that we may recognise the sister or brother in our neighbour. Not a bad New Year’s resolution; there’ll still be plenty to work on in 12 months’ time.
This is what is wrong. This is the huge modern heresy of altering the human soul to fit its conditions, instead of altering human conditions to fit the human soul. If soap boiling is really inconsistent with brotherhood, so much the worst for soap-boiling, not for brotherhood. If civilization really cannot get on with democracy, so much the worse for civilization, not for democracy.
Certainly, it would be far better to go back to village communes, if they really are communes. Certainly, it would be better to do without soap rather than to do without society. Certainly, we would sacrifice all our wires, wheels, systems, specialties, physical science and frenzied finance for one half-hour of happiness such as has often come to us with comrades in a common tavern. I do not say the sacrifice will be necessary; I only say it will be easy.
from “What’s Wrong with the World” by G. K. Chesterton
More wise words for our time. Many of us have had a taste of ‘village communes’ in the lockdown phase, and appreciated the estra concern shown between family and neighbours.
As our friend and contributor Rupert Greville says, ‘there’ll be a great deal of reflection to read over the coming days on Jean Vanier’s life and work.’ Here is a short memory from Laurent de Cherisey, founder of the Fondation Simon de Cyrene, which develops and animates shared homes on a human scale. These welcome abled bodied people and those who have become disabled during the course of their lives. He shared a platform as a speaker with Jean and they co-wrote a book, “Tous intouchables ?” (All of them Untouchable?) with Philippe Pozzo di Borgo.
He challenged us to live fraternally, as brother and sister with the most fragile, to go beyond our private fears and build a world that welcomes everyone. He was one of those prophets who bear witness to a possible way forward for humanity, at a time when it shows itself to be extremely disturbed and anxious about living with one’s neighbour.
On the contrary, the experience of Jean Vanier and L’Arche demonstrates that when we pull down the ‘walls of fear’, as he called them, we can become co-creators of that common home where there is a fulfilling place for each one of us.