Our world doesn't exist by chance, but is a gift, says leader of French bishops after meeting with pope.
In matters of the environment and in the face of “inevitable changes” in the future, “It’s good to remember that we must act with our heart at peace,” Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French Bishops’ Conference, told I.MEDIA on the sidelines of a press conference on September 3. Along with about 15 other prominent guests, the Archbishop of Reims had engaged in a conversation with Pope Francis regarding the problems facing the environment.
I.MEDIA asked him to share his experience.
What is your take-away from this relatively dense conversation with the pope?
Archbishop Moulins-Beaufort: I was moved to see that everyone was impressed by the way the pope spoke, in a very free and sincere manner. Secondly, I was touched that the pope mentioned the fact that in 2007, at the time of the Latin American Bishops’ Conference in Aparecida (Brazil), he did not understand the issue of the environment, and did not even see what it was about. (He said) that he had to make an interior journey on the subject, between 2007 and 2015. It is beautiful that he can say it with such sincerity. The fact that he gives an account of his journey in this way is reassuring for all of us, since we, believers, must also realize what is at stake in this ecological conversion. Finally, I found his words on “tenderness” and “caress” very interesting. Those who were there are all aware of the conflicts and struggles that must be fought: some are fighting very specific battles with regard to States, businesses, and society. It is good to remember that we must act with our heart at peace.
I have understood that one of the issues that concerns us Catholics is also to help the inevitable changes to take place in a certain peace, a certain collaboration between human beings and not simply in an environment of accusation, fear, and “every man for himself,” where each individual tries to grab what he can to survive, while abandoning others. Pablo Servigne, a well-known “collapsologist,” described the idea that in times of tension, human beings help each other more than in times when everything is going well. This is an optimistic vision, since we also know how much human beings are capable of harming each other: this is part of the mystery of salvation and evil which is precisely what Christ came to confront.
How do you plan to follow up on this meeting? Do you think it could be an opportunity to initiate a broader movement?
Archbishop Moulins-Beaufort: Personally, my task is to familiarize the bishops with this ecological issue, which they are particularly interested in working on. Moreover, this group has its own autonomy: I have merely introduced it to the pope. Honestly, I am counting on the people in this delegation to determine for themselves how we can follow up on this experience. I know that we have here a network through which we can let ourselves be guided and stimulated, which will remind us that we have tried to do something, and thanks to which we will eventually be able to act. In this group, everyone is their own spokesperson. If, thanks to this event, we can contribute modestly to the meeting of various people and to a common action, that would already make us happy.
The ecological issue is a subject that is close to your heart. What do you want to say to Christians who doubt its priority in the Church?
Archbishop Moulins-Beaufort: I think that our faith in the Creator God is a very important and non-obvious part of our creed. All these ecological issues force us to take the matter of Creation seriously today. In antiquity, this was the most neuralgic point for many pagans converted to Christianity: to believe that this world is a gift that is not simply the fruit of chance or of physical and chemical processes. We have good news to report about the Creator God.
Interview in Rome by Claire Guigou and Augustin Talbourdel.