The Church in Alsace is suffering. Many sincere Christians, attached to their Church, are hurt by the crisis it is going through, which culminated on April 20 in the resignation of its Archbishop, Mgr Luc Ravel. This long-simmering crisis has highlighted modes of governance, behaviors, abuses of authority that are not well accorded to the Gospel or to the standards of civic life and the maturity of the members of the people of God. .
The crisis that the Church is going through in Alsace, beyond the people involved and this suffering felt by many, is symptomatic of serious and long-standing dysfunctions. Many observers have spoken of a systemic crisis, affecting not just one aspect of the life of the Church, but multiple components linked together. The Ciase report underlined this. The feedback from the Synod on synodality at the diocesan, national or continental level echoed this: exercise of authority in the Church, clericalism, the place of women, sexual and family morality. All point to a desire to live baptismal fraternity differently, the equal dignity of baptized men and women, mutual listening, synodality in decision-making.
The working groups set up by the Conference of Bishops of France after the publication of the Ciase report in October 2021 have made a large number of proposals to respond to this crisis. If some – too rare – have been endorsed by the Conference of Bishops of France, most have been sent back to the dioceses for examination.
The situation of the diocese of Strasbourg
It is important that the dioceses seize it. The situation in our diocese is the occasion, the kairos, the favorable moment. This is why we fraternally ask the apostolic administrator appointed by Pope Francis to organize, next autumn, a vast synodal process, bringing together the Catholics of the diocese in their diversity, to take up these recommendations, and to discern how they respond to the dysfunctions of our diocese.
Based on the happy experience lived during the diocesan phase of the synod – unfortunately abandoned… –, this approach seems vital to us to enable the Church of Alsace to heal wounds that are still alive and to recover. Nothing would be worse today than a patching up of facades, or a modest veil thrown over questions that are all the more glaring and dramatic in that they remain unanswered. Today more than ever, this call is heard for all the people of God who are in Alsace, to which Francis of Assisi responded: “Go and rebuild my Church! »
We are not looking to make another Church, there is none other than that of Jesus Christ. We do not want to impose an agenda or a program of reforms on the Church, we ask for nothing other than the concrete implementation at the diocesan level of synodality, as Pope Francis invites the whole universal Church to do. If, as he affirms, “the path of synodality is precisely the one that God expects of the Church of the third millennium”, we would not understand why the Church in Alsace refused to commit to it today, in the difficult situation she is going through.