Father François Michon

General moderator of the Chemin Neuf Community


Thank you for 50 years!

A Chapter to lead the fight for fraternity

Brother Bruno Cadoré, op. 1, who accompanied us at the start of our General Chapter this summer, reminded us of the formidable vocation that is ours: fraternity cannot be taken for granted – or we miss the point. « When we speak about fraternity, we speak about the birth of the Church « 2 : fraternity is, at the beginning, the principle of the Church.

Our world today, as it has always been, is riven by a logic of division, and the social, economic and political divides are constantly widening when we do not lead this demanding fight for fraternity.

This is also a battle to be fought in the Church: it’s the battle for synodality. Synodality is not primarily to be understood as a way of functioning or organising the life of the Church, but as a requirement to listen: to choose, the desire for the other person to share with me his or her « faith experience »3 through which God speaks to me in a different way about Himself. Clerics, lay people, consecrated people, men, women from different cultural and ecclesial backgrounds, from different social backgrounds… this is not something that can be taken for granted!

 Celebrating 50 years at Hautecombe Abbey

Learning to live this synodality in the Community is already working on the mission of the Church. Listening to Brother Bruno Cadoré, we understood that living the event of our Chapter was already being on mission.

WYD to be at the rendez-vous

It is striking to see the extent to which the Holy Spirit has taken the lead in inspiring ecumenical initiatives at the heart of World Youth Day in Portugal.

Tens of thousands of young Catholics gathered for The Change, a worship concert organised in a large stadium by various Pentecostal churches. Thousands also gathered around the leaders of various churches and Christian denominations to pray together for the unity of the Church, at the initiative of the Chemin Neuf and Taizé communities. Several hundred people took part in a retreat in the heart of Lisbon, « Rooted in Unity« , led by the Anglican Church and the Chemin Neuf Community.

This call, made against all odds by our Community over the last 50 years, resonates powerfully in the Church today. For example, at the episcopal ordination of our brother Etienne Vetö in Reims Cathedral on 9 September, Eric de Moulins Beaufort, Archbishop of Reims and President of the French Episcopal Conference, welcomed the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Primate of the Anglican Communion, Orthodox Bishop Gabriel Papanicolaou, Metropolitan of NeaIonia and Philadelphia, and several evangelical or Pentecostal pastors as the grace that the Catholic Church is called to seize today.

May our Chemin Neuf Community, as Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline 4 has asked us, never cease to be this prophetic spur in the Church!

A Jubilee to hear…
… the joyful cry of young people

In the uncertainties of the life of the Church and the shifting landmarks of an anguished world, young people aspire to be allowed to believe. The WYD surprised us: young people were ahead of us. Their thirst to meet a brother, a sister, a priest, to share and grasp the grace of the Lord’s coming… calls us and sends us out. They are looking for the Church, so let’s not be afraid to respond.

… the thirsty cry of the earth

Here again, it is young people who are urging us to go further, to dare. The road to ecological conversion is still ahead of us, and we often walk, feeling blind. This ecological conversion is, as always, a question of salvation for our world and for ourselves. Let us dare to trust these young people who are leading us and at the same time calling on us to accompany them.

… the silent cry of the poor

At our Jubilee round table on 19 August, our sister Anne-Cathy Graber shared with us the words of a street woman she was learning to care for: « You ask me to shout less, but you don’t ask me why I shout« .

I myself witnessed a young man from the street say to a secondary school pupil from Sainte Marie de Lyon on a trip to Kinshasa: « Don’t you pray? But what have you been through that is so dramatic that you can’t believe in God’s love? I don’t know what the young man from Lyon did with these words, but I do know that today, he is a priest. The poor man has nothing, and yet his word is effective, radically effective. The poor are those who are not here, those who are outside. The call to reach out to them resonates ever more strongly in the hearts of many brothers and sisters in the Community. It’s a demanding, audacious call that moves us and engages us in community discernment. A vital call to let the cry of Christ resound within us.

■ F. M.

[1] Former Provincial of France and Master General of the Dominican Order
[2] cfr FOI 78, p.45
[3] cfr FOI 78, p.46
[4] Homily on 19 August during the Jubilee of the Chemin Neuf Community

Cet article fait partie du numéro 78 de la revue FOI


septembre-octobre-novembre 2023

Oecuménisme   Vie de l'église   Vie de la Communauté  

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