Jean Vanier and Philippe brothers affair: “Today we must question an entire ecclesial culture” according to Corref
Go through sadness, without fear, by Jean-Guilhem Xerri
Recently, my congregation asked me to reflect on the theme of “the Church after the crisis of abuse”. I hesitated for a long time before responding to such a request. I indeed felt embarrassed by the “after”. Isn’t it going too fast to project ourselves into this after? Isn’t that believing that the page will definitely be turned? That the crisis we are enduring in the Church will soon be just a bad memory? Isn’t this giving in to the spirit of immediacy of our time to already move on to something else? Isn’t this taking for nothing the sufferings of all the victims, even though we haven’t finished hearing them?
Reflecting on these questions, I reread the book by Dorothee Sölle (1929-2003) entitled Souffrances (Cerf, 1992). This Protestant theologian warns against an apathetic Christianity, a Christianity that does not take suffering seriously, because it regards it as “a purely private affair, without general interest”, without spiritual significance. As if we had no lesson or wisdom to learn from it. However, this is to forget that suffering is not foreign to God – it cannot therefore be foreign to us. God is not apathetic – and neither can we be. Instead of ignoring the sufferings, we must consider them in the shadow of the Cross, to allow ourselves to be taught and changed by them. We must accept to be saddened by it.
In her reflection, the Protestant theologian comes to evoke the distinction made by the apostle Paul between divine sadness and sadness according to the world, each according to the purpose it serves (2 Cor 7,8-10): “ Paul enumerates the consequences of God-willed sadness in the experiences of the Corinthians; they were transformed, their self-determination increased: “eagerness, excuses, indignation, fear, desire, zeal, punishment” grew among them. (…) Sadness according to the world, on the contrary, can lead to death, that is, to transplant human beings into a state of torpor resembling death, depriving them of all relationship; the sadness that God produces makes us more like Christ, more alive, more apt to suffer and to love. Abuse saddens us? So let’s be sad according to God – and before God. And live fully this sadness to let us be taught by it: it is an obligatory passage to write “after the abuses”.
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