At the dawn of this new year, I invite you to cultivate the virtue of hope. Together with faith and charity, hope roots us in the mystery of the covenant between God and men. God does not disappoint. Such is the conviction of the apostle Paul: “Hope does not disappoint, since the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” Romans 5,5.
At the beginning of these few remarks, I would like to pay tribute to Pope Benedict XVI. He was a great servant of the Church. I would like us to keep only his renunciation from him. I retain his thought as an articulation between faith and reason. Faith is a reasonable act of man and reason is an act of faith in man’s ability to accomplish the common good.
At the start of 2023, I send you all my best wishes. These wishes go out to each and every one of you, to your families and loved ones. May everyone see the fulfillment of their dearest wishes. May our desires be those of ever greater service to our neighbour. In the encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis comments at length on the parable of the Good Samaritan. Let’s be that good Samaritan who takes care of the man on the side of the road.
The liturgical time given to us is that of the birth of the Saviour. In the insignificance of a stable, the Son of God was born in our humanity. This child carried in the arms of Mary his mother is the hope of all humanity. For more than two thousand years, we have celebrated his coming to us. We are always rejoicing and marveling at the coming of Emmanuel. The first months of its existence were already marked by violence with the massacre of the innocent saints. Men and women of his time and of our time will become attached to him and will become his disciples.
Salvation is brought to us by those who give their life for the humanity of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
We would be tempted to cast a look of despair on the world and on our Church. The times we live in are very uncertain. The storms that our Church is facing risk capsizing the frail skiff that carries us. On Wednesday, January 4, I asked the communication department of our diocese to issue a press release concerning the abuses allegedly committed by a priest of our diocese, Father Raymond Jaccard, on adults. I wish to express and reiterate the involvement of our diocese with regard to the victims and our determination to serve justice with clarity. This press release has been sent to the media and associations that disseminate the work of the Jaccard Brothers and that promote it, for the sake of truth.
The turbulence we are going through is a call to lean on Jesus Christ, again and always. The morning of the resurrection opens up a world of infinite hope. Let us remain firm in faith, hope and charity.
Allow me not to go back over the past year. Each of us can remember all the joys, the hopes but also the sorrows and worries that inhabit our lives and those of all humanity. During the diocesan feast, I sketched out some questions that cross our world: planetary wars, climate change, famine, migratory phenomenon, beginning and end of life, social tensions, credibility of rulers, etc.
And tomorrow ? What will it be? It will be fraternal and united, cooperative and participative, responsible and generous or it will not be. Closing in on oneself can only lead to the failure of living together. Walls between people and peoples solve nothing. They only exacerbate tensions. Only bridges allow us to cross the different horizons that shape our lives.
For the life of our diocese, the diocesan and Roman synodal steps are the roadmap given to us. The Covid years disrupted the reception and implementation of decrees, articles and synodal acts. Much work has already been done. If we are aware that the future of our Christian communities passes through the emergence of rootedness in Christ in small fraternal communities and the missionary concern for evangelization, we must decide to set out towards all those who live our neighborhoods and villages.
Synodal ecclesial life is the path that Pope Francis offers us for the millennium that we have begun. In respect for the charisms of each, the participation of all in reflection, discernment and decisions is the surest way of our availability to the Holy Spirit.
In this sense, the new Diocesan Pastoral Council which will soon be created is part of this dynamic. The small team which drew up the statutes of this new council relied on the work of the offices of the various councils which met at the beginning of September at La Roche d’Or. May this team be thanked for its work, for supporting and starting the work of this new Diocesan Pastoral Council.
I hope that the government of our diocese can rely heavily on the work of the diocesan pastoral council. In order to be as close as possible to the realities on the ground, a broad participation of the actors of pastoral life is envisaged (priests, deacons, DP, LEME, consecrated and lay faithful). The articulation with the other councils of the bishop and in particular the presbyteral council will allow a more coordinated work. In this perspective, we will reduce the number of diocesan meetings in order to be better present closer to the realities on the ground.
As we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of pastoral delegates, I thank them all for their availability, their work and their collaboration in the service of our diocese. They are essential to the smooth running of parishes. Thanks to each of them.
For several months, close collaboration with the bishop has been renewed. The arrival of Hélène Tarbouriech as General Delegate widens our discernment. The work of bishop, “vicar general and delegate general” is enriched. We usually meet on Wednesday mornings to deal with more urgent matters and to prepare the agenda for the episcopal council.
You have learned that, following the consultation, I asked Christophe Bazin to be Vicar General for future years. I warmly thank Christophe for his availability and generosity. I am happy to be able to collaborate with him. Until Easter 2023, Eric Poinsot, Christophe Bazin, Hélène Tarbouriech and myself will work together. Then, Eric will then take a few months of healing and rest. During the Chrism Mass we will thank him for the nine years at my side in the service of our diocese.
Thank you to the entire Church of Besançon team who worked so that a new model of our diocesan magazine sees the light of day at the beginning of January 2023. We now have a more attractive monthly magazine which you will discover in the coming days.
At the end of these few remarks, I thank all the priests, deacons, consecrated, pastoral delegates, lay people in ecclesial mission, members of movements, diocesan services, employees, volunteers in the curia, in our parishes, in diocesan houses and in the diocese, lay faithful and particularly those who joined us in 2022.
I wish you a year 2023 under the sign of hope, peace, communion and a new missionary impulse.
I assure you of my gratitude for your work in the service of our diocese and assure you of my prayers for you and your families.
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