Charles de Foucauld


“He came to Nazareth, the place of the hidden life, of the ordinary life…” (CdF)

We come to an important dimension of Brother Charles’ vocation, that of Culture. This dimension was present in different stages of his life, but with different aims according to what he lived during those stages.

It is interesting to follow a pattern through which we can read like a common theme: the coherence of God’s project in his life while maintaining the importance of human freedom. My project here is to see how this dimension evolved in the course of his life and became a means for him to becoming incarnate in a people and joining Jesus in Nazareth.

Let us not lose this common thread. That is why we must make a connection between this man of culture, his arduous work on culture and the way he lived his “Nazareth” vocation. He never lost sight of his search for the “cherished final place”! Unable to reach it, he continued to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, trying to become one with his Beloved Brother and Lord Jesus.


1-The experience of Brother Charles.

It is through his existence, his experience, that we pursue this way of understanding the message that Brother Charles leaves us on this dimension of his vocation.

We sometimes forget that he had an excellent scientific formation and a great culture, despite appearing lazy and indolent in his youth. It is important not to reduce him to the image of a man always on his knees in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

He gave much of his life to prayer, notably when he was searching  for his vocation, during his monastic period and stay in Nazareth. However, he would devote a lot of work and time to practising the Arabic language in Beni Abbes and then to learning the Tuareg language in Tamanrasset. He did this in the spirit of Nazareth, which was at the same time an experience of prayer, self-emptying and relationship.    

Pre-study before his conversion—an explorer’s passion.

Let us understand this thirst for learning from the experience before his conversion. As a child, he was not particularly brilliant in his studies. He could be described as an ordinary pupil. He was already remarked for drawing in primary school: this would serve him well later on! In secondary school, he liked to read both ancient and modern authors with his friend Gabriel Tourdes, as if to nourish his lack of faith in God or even to justify it…

He had to learn a bit of cartography during his formation at St Cyr and the Saumur cavalry school. He loved horse riding… and was a good cavalryman though that did not prevent him from finishing last in his cavalry officers’ class!

So what was going to happen? What would trigger the taste for learning in him and perfect his knowledge? Where would this desire to appropriate the language of others, immerse himself in their culture, become a man among men, and try to blend in with their environment come from? In late January 1882, he had resigned from the army. He was 24 years old.

It was the time of the great explorers, of the great colonial conquests. He felt a taste for adventure during the expedition against Bouamama, an Algerian resistance fighter. He had developed a taste for a simple and spartan life.

What would he do to satisfy this taste for adventure? The map of Morocco was clearly marked with an extensive blank line, and it was a region still unknown to France. He felt the desire to explore it, challenge himself, and do what others had not done. Perhaps to prove to himself that he could succeed and also to restore the reputation of the de Foucauld family, which he had so tarnished by his conduct?

So he prepared himself for this great trip to Morocco. He took 15 months of painstaking work to learn Arabic, Hebrew and Yiddish.

We can already measure just how much he invested into this exploration. As lazy and indolent as he was, he learned to make geographical surveys, maps, to draw… He had enough knowledge to launch himself into the adventure. That would be useful to him in his expedition.

I see here the first steps of immersion in the milieu. Of course, it was not for religious reasons; he did it for the taste of adventure and fame. But God uses everything to prepare him for his future vocation!

He wanted to go where no European had gone, just as he wanted to live where no priest had lived. This has to do with the very human desire to achieve something noteworthy, but he already had everything necessary to enter the soul of a people and become incarnate there. Somehow he was already paving the way forward was being. He would not start from scratch. This would be part of the “cultural” dimension of his existence, even if this worry did not really bother him.  Later it will take on a different form, that of “Nazareth”. Nazareth will then take on an entirely new hew: becoming like Jesus, incarnate in a people out of love for them and their Lord.

He undertook this exploration from June 83 to May 84, disguised as a Jewish rabbi, with Mordecai as his companion, a connoisseur of the land who served as his guide. He explored the south of Morocco, did cartographic surveys, established relationships with the people, and lived in close contact with Jews and Arabs. He even risked losing his life and was saved thanks to some Moroccans.

In short, he succeeded and returned to Algiers. He became famous. In Paris, in May 1885, he received the gold medal from the French Society of Geography. He was 27 years old. He had become famous. The following year, from May 85 to January 86, he made another trip to southern Algeria and southern Tunisia.

In February, he moved to Paris to work on his book “Reconnaissance au Maroc”. He rented an apartment and slept on a carpet wrapped in a burnous. He lived a simple life. His book was published in 1888, and he converted the same year, in October.

If I have emphasised this investment in another culture”, this desire to enter into the knowledge of the language and customs of a people, it is because he will make use of this experience to later realise this dimension of incarnation by immersing himself in a people, but for other reasons: that of living in the manner of Jesus of Nazareth. We are getting there. We are getting there.

Nazareth: a school built on the study of language and culture.

Now let’s take a big step. Charles dedicated his life to God from the time of his conversion at the age of thirty and opted for religious life. He searched for a long time how he could make it real: a pilgrimage to Nazareth, visits to several monasteries, and finally opting for our Lady of the Snows monastery, where he stayed for a short time. He eventually left for Akbes in Syria for the same reasons we mentioned above – it was a poor monastery far from his family. He stayed there for six long years. He returned to Nazareth, where he sought to live in humility like Jesus. Then, in agreement with Father Huvelin, he decided to become a priest to go to the farthest places where he would live out his Nazareth ideal. This was in 1901.

Knowing well Arabic, once in Beni Abbès, he was able to understand and transcribe in Arabic the passages of the Gospel and also put together a kind of catechism for the use of potential catechumens. The Muslims remained resistant to his efforts at evangelization. He did not insist and would remain in their midst, respecting their customs and religion. He had a small monastery built to welcome the Brothers… who would never come!

Let’s join him on the road from Beni Abbès to Tamanrasset. He already knew Arabic very well. In 1903, at his friend Laperrine’s suggestion, he considered leaving Béni Abbès. You see that his desire for stability is still far away, and indeed he could not go back to Morocco, which he dreamed of. He spoke to Bishop Guérin and Father Huvelin about it. And in January 1904, he began a familiarization tour that would be long and take him to several Saharan oases. His project was indeed to evangelize the Tuaregs. That was still his primary concern. He learned the first rudiments of Tamashek (the language of the Tuaregs) during his long walks. He also began an approximate translation of the Gospel into this language.

In 1905, with the permission of Mgr Guérin and Abbé Huvelin, he participated in a nomadic tour to the Hoggar. His passion for exploration did not leave him. In June of that year, he met Moussa Ag Amastane, the amenokal of the Ahaggar tribe. In August, he arrived in Tamanrasset where he began by living in a reed hut before building himself a small house made of stones and earth, the first one in the village. It was the first sign of his rootedness. Even if he planned to make further incursions into Beni Abbès, he at least showed the desire for stability.

Nevertheless, he had not lost his explorer’s soul… he resumed some trips, but in 1907, he returned to Hoggar, and his installation in Tamanrasset took more and more shape. I will skip over his travels, his absences from Tamanrasset, his three trips to France, but it was well there that he took up residence. He ardently set about learning the Tamashek language.

By 1908, he had already completed a more significant part of the transcription and translation of six thousand Tuareg poems. He would finish the final copy shortly before his death. These poems have nothing mystical about them. They exalt the warriors’ prowess, beautiful eyes of the black-eyed beauty who awaits her lover on his return from battle, the beauty of the country, the beautiful pace of his camel, and so on. Few have religious connotation. This shows the importance he attached to the life of the people of this region, through the discovery and expression of their language.

He had already started working on the composition of a small lexicon to provide military and future missionaries with an instrument to approach the country and its population. The work, later on, would become a “Tuareg dictionary”, meant to enhance the value of this vibrant language, based on Tuareg poems and prose texts collected from the people. It is an immense work which would occupy his last years. He sometimes worked on it for more than 10 hours a day! He would finish it a few days before his tragic death. In fact, he started it with no actual method. A linguist, Motylinski, would spend a few days with him and gave him a methodological approach that allowed him to complete this enormous 4-volume work that is still an authority today. A seminar on his dictionary was held at the University of Tamanrasset on December 1, 2016.

However, he often regretted not completing this project which prevented him from engaging in manual labour:

“The lexicon took me longer than I expected. I won’t be finished for another three or four years: that’s twelve years of work. That’s a lot!” (To Mme de Bondy in 1912)

On December 1, 1916, the day of his death, he wrote to Raymond de Blic:

“I have made significant progress but have not completed my little work on the Tuareg language.

He would only complete this dictionary a few days before his death.

The thwarted desire to work with his hands… like Jesus in Nazareth.*

What he desired above all, to remain in line with the incarnation, was to follow Jesus in the intimacy of Nazareth. He made every effort to work with his hands in line with this inspiration. He often lamented that his linguistic work left him little time for this humble work.

Intellectual work for its own sake was sometimes repugnant to him… because it prevented him from working with his hands as Jesus did in Nazareth! And he did his linguistic work more out of duty than taste! But he did it in the spirit that I tried to communicate to you above. He knew that he was working for future generations. But in fact, this work is especially appreciated today by the Tuaregs themselves!

Charles de Foucauld always believed that he somehow took the time spent studying the language and customs of the people he lived from manual labour. And yet he worked hard, with uncommon zeal. What he did there was a kind of groundwork for future generations while at the same time benefiting from the contacts it could give him.

He craved to be like Jesus in Nazareth, rooted in the lives of the people he came into contact with so that he may radiate Jesus, even if he did not see the fruits. He was a pioneer. His way of witnessing was not by words, and yet God knows he was capable of doing that, but by radiating the charity of Jesus to every human being. His life was about being like that of Jesus of Nazareth.

Charles de Foucauld was not a linguist by vocation. We may ask ourselves what drove him to invest so much in the Tuareg language in this village of about twenty families.

This work is in the spirit of Nazareth and his plan to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. He wasn’t “playing”, he wasn’t pretending, he wasn’t putting on an act by living this hidden existence in this lost corner of Hoggar. He undertook this immense work to incarnate himself and, above all, prepare the way for others. To find himself in conformity with his Master and Lord Jesus, Word made flesh. This is the very meaning of this deep commitment.

Moreover, he wanted his work published under a name other than his own. Again, this desire to remain small and to seek the last place! This effort, this desire touches us as a Church in our concern to be incarnated in the midst of a people, which is why we must attach so much importance to this dimension of his life.


2- Our Church life in the footsteps of Jesus with Brother Charles.

Jesus became incarnate to encounter the men and women of his time.

It was in the synagogue before the people of Nazareth, where he grew up, that he revealed the meaning of his mission:

“The Spirit of God is upon me… He has sent me to bring the Good News to the poor, proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, and set the oppressed free” (Lk 4:18). 

Since no one is a prophet in his own country, the inhabitants of this village practically chased him away, as they would someone pretentious who interfered with the ancestral customs. Who does this carpenter’s son think he is, without university degrees, and who dares to lecture us?

Perhaps this refusal triggered his decision to go elsewhere since his relatives were deaf and not open to his message.

But let’s not forget that this move towards his people was preceded by thirty years of learning in the great university of life!

For thirty years he learned to be a man. He grew up like the children of his age, he went to learn in the synagogue of his village; he also learned about life, about death, about the suffering of the people of his time. He had a trade, got his hands dirty, sweated to earn his living.

 Let us not forget that Jesus lived in a large family. He was often pictured between Mary and Joseph. This is how Charles de Foucauld imagined him. But he lived in the large family of Joseph, to whom God had said in a dream, “Do not be afraid to take Mary into your home, your wife” (Mt 1:20). And they referred to his “brothers and sisters” to show that they knew him well!

I like to think that he discovered in Joseph the ideal image of a father. It had to be so for him to be able to say one day: “When you pray, say ‘Abba, Father'”. Would this have been so if he had a failed relationship with Joseph?

As we meditate on life in Nazareth, let’s think about the beautiful figure of Joseph. He is sometimes presented as a quiet old man. For me, he embodies the eternal youth of God to whom the incarnate Word is entrusted.

In this university of life in Nazareth, he observed the people and listened to them: there is no evidence of any preaching activity during this long period. He learned at length to receive before giving, before speaking: from his parents, from his contemporaries, but also and above all from God his Father, whom he met and discovered in intimacy, behind the closed door of his house or on some mountainside. In Nazareth, Jesus prayed. He learned to pray from his parents and his entourage.

The vocation of Jesus began with a long confrontation with life; through a long heart-to-heart with the Scriptures, He, the Word, the Word of God, committed himself to study. For he studied, on his own, and also undoubtedly under the guidance of some rabbis in the synagogue of his village.

He listened, learned, reflected and prayed before speaking or revealing himself. He became close to others, their daily lives, their worries, and their questioning of the existence he shared with them.

He prepared the simple language of the Parables and “fermented” them in Nazareth. Through them, he would tell us what it is like to grow grain, work in the vineyard, and tend the fig tree. And also the labour of the workers! And it was out of the contemplation of ordinary people that he made the astonishing proclamation of the Beatitudes. His knowledge of Scripture prepared him for his confrontations with the Pharisees.

He prepared himself to be the man of others, for others.

When he left Nazareth and began to walk along the paths of Palestine, it was, first of all, to go and meet his own people and announce the Good News to them: that of the universal love of God. It was first of all to the people of his own nation that he addressed himself. It was towards them that he directed his steps.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14).

In Jesus, the Word of God became flesh and dwelt in our humanity. He wanted to learn the hard work of living in a specific time and country; he spoke the language and followed people’s customs. He became one with the people, worked with his hands, and became part of the life of the people. We, too, want to participate in the life of the people where we live, just as our Master did. Can you imagine what this means for us, his disciples?

This profoundly links culture with the Incarnation.

It is in this sense that the Council understood culture: “There are many ties between the message of salvation and human culture. For God, revealing Himself to His people to the extent of a full manifestation of Himself in His Incarnate Son, has spoken according to the culture proper to each epoch.” (Gaudium et Spes, The Church in the Modern World, no. 58).

Incarnation through culture is, first and foremost, a commitment to be present to one another and to welcome each other in our differences. Looking at our diocesan communities in France (like what I experienced in the Sahara), we come from different nations and ethnic groups, different mother tongues, and different mentalities. And we are present in a world marked by difference. The cultural dimension, especially in the outskirts of our big cities, is more and more pronounced. Not to mention the global culture that tends to wipe out the others!

Therefore, our Christian commitment is naturally part of our common vocation: knowledge of the language, customs, religious and cultural traditions, with the greatest respect for those we live with. Entering into the culture of the other is, in the manner of Christ, to become incarnate where we are and to share his humanity.

To incarnate is first and foremost to learn the language, learn to speak and relate with others. In the Maghreb, we do our best to provide this opportunity, especially to newcomers. We all know how much energy Charles de Foucauld devoted in line with his vocation to imitate life in Nazareth, how many hours of hard work and fatigue. The Church also has the task of taking this step, not only to learn the language but also to understand better the culture of the other, to sow better the leaven of the Gospel. Is this effort not to be made in our modern world where so much fear and suspicion hangs over us? Is the world not also ours to approach and save?

This dimension also points in another direction, that of cultural sharing: in a fraternal exchange, to put the other person in a position to better know his own culture and history and open him to different cultures. All the work done in our libraries and the language courses broaden our horizons towards the other. These activities are also “platforms of encounter”, to use an expression of Pierre Claverie, where we open ourselves to our plural humanity. In mutual emulation, we show that it is possible to meet each other despite our cultural differences: it is sharing humanity, a common stimulation for a more human world. To use an expression of Brother Christian de Chergé: our differences then take on the meaning, the direction, of communion.

+Claude Rault.


Charles de Foucault in front of his first chapel in Tamanrasset (Hoggar) 1905

A meditation with the image of Our Lady of Africa

Some elements of Marian missionary spirituality from a meditation with the image of Our Lady of Africa

This is a personal meditation with the image of Our Lady of Africa. I have learned to meditate with images (icons) with Eastern Christians in Egypt, Slovenia and with a Serbian Orthodox friend. I invite everyone to look at the image and to be touched by the details. One can make a whole spiritual retreat with the image of Our Lady of Africa. I am only giving you a summary of my meditation because of the limitations of the article.

Presence in the world

A statue of Our Lady of Africa stands above the basilica. This is the first mission of God: to be present to people through his incarnation. It is an act of love. Mission is above all a loving presence. This image of Our Lady of Africa expresses a silent presence.

A shining light

The image shines with a sunlight-like color. The crown and the skin of Mary have the same color. It is a color that seems to be a mixture of all colors. It is humanity of all races, languages, peoples, nations united and carried by Mary. It is humanity illuminated by the divine presence.

The Crown

The crown is a symbol of sovereignty. Mary is queen because her son is king. The tip of the crown is the cross, symbol of Christ. The cross supplants a globe. Christ is the King of the universe. Therefore, his mother, Mary, is also Queen of the Universe. The closed crown of Mary (a circle with arches attached to it that meet at the top) with a globe is an imperial symbol: Mary’s sovereignty is complete. Seven half-arches with fleur-de-lis can be seen: this is the purity of the Virgin Mary. It is the answer of the one who is conceived without sin (Immaculate Conception) to the 7 capital sins, it is victory over sin.

The veil

Mary’s veil appears as rays coming out of the crown and pouring over the mantle. It is a very thin veil that does not hide the hair. The veil of Our Lady of Africa is the divine graces. These graces come from her Son and are poured over Mary’s whole body. She is full of grace. The thinness of the veil shows an intimacy with her Son. Our Lady of Africa is not concerned with hiding her femininity with a veil. Rather, the veil becomes a symbol of union with God.

The hair

Hair is a sign of femininity, and of beauty. The veil does not hide the hair. Mary’s hair reminds us that she is a woman, feminine. I think of the holy women of the Gospel who expressed much love for Jesus. I also think of the women whose femininity is abused and exploited. We pray for them and commit ourselves to act against this abuse.

Looking down

Mary looks down on humanity.  She looks with love at those who pass by. She intercedes so that they may always be blessed. This is what it means to be a missionary. Her eyes are slightly closed. She is an inner woman. It is from within, from intimacy with God, that she receives her life and her mission. Her head tilted to the right is also reminiscent of her son on the cross, the supreme sacrifice of love and redemption of humanity. She was present. Her gaze exudes humility, simplicity and interiority.

The mantle

Mary’s mantle is abundant. Mary is full of grace and grace overflows. The mantle is blue with white stripes and gold motifs. The blue in the iconography symbolises wisdom and refers to incarnateWisdom, the Word, the Son of God. It is the presence of the Son in her, it is life in abundance. This overflowing life is experienced at the wedding in Cana. Blue is also heaven, holiness. From this blue emerges depth and calm. White is the colour of divinity, the divine presence. The scattered golden motifs represent the Holy Spirit blowing.  The mantle is in the form of a chasuble, a sign of the priestly function of sanctifying.  Mary gives the impression of celebrating the Eucharistic sacrifice. The white band in the middle of the robe resembles a stole, the symbol par excellence of the priesthood. Mary sanctifies the people as “priest and intercessor.” The mantle covers Mary’s body. This is evocative of the Assumption. Mary’s body has not known corruption. It is raised to heaven.

The arms

The open arms are the presence that welcomes everyone without distinction, without discrimination. They are arms that invite us to enter into intimacy with Jesus through Mary who wants to embrace us like a mother.  The open and lowered arms are a presence without weapons, without violence, without protection, a vulnerable presence that offers only what it holds dearest: Jesus Christ. Her open hands show humility, purity, simplicity in a world that clings to power and wealth. She has the attitude of the gentle, the non-violent, the one who is incapable of doing harm. It is also the arms that offer. Mary’s fingers are separated.  She holds nothing back. She keeps nothing. She gives everything.

Moussa Serge Traore

Roma cura Roma, The project

Roma Cura Roma, The project

Via Aurelia Pilgrims participating in

The Municipality of Rome organised a clean-up of Rome on 9 April 2022. Among the 457 groups and initiatives registered throughout the city of Rome, we, the “Via Aurelia Pilgrims”, were officially involved:

At 9:30 a.m., while we were still gathering all the members of our communities, a police car from the municipality stopped next to us and asked us if we were ready to start the work.

We were 24 volunteers from three communities, Marist Sisters, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and Missionaries of Africa. Coming from 5 continents, South America, North America, Africa, Asia and Europe, some are students and others work in different functions in Rome.

An old lady stopped with her dog and helped us to clean the path. Other pedestrians were surprised to see us cutting the grass, scraping the ground, sweeping the road, they passed by in silence; others were grateful and encouraged us to continue. “That’s great! Finally, something is done”, I heard a woman saying to me in Italian.

For two hours, we cleaned the path to the metro station and also the stairs nearby. At the end, we counted about 15 bags filled with either plastic, paper, glass bottles or cut plants and herbs. Everything that was compostable, we took to the compost in the garden.

At the end of the work, we were very happy to be able to contribute to the beautification of the city of Rome and to make our small contribution to the care for our common home, as the encyclical letter Laudato Si invites us.

Via Aurelia Pilgrims

Dominic Abiriga / Priestly Ordination

Dominic Abiriga M.Afr

Priesly Ordination

The society of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) Uganda Sector,
the P.P and the Central Organizing Committee for the Priestly Ordination
together with the family of Mr. Modesto Eric and Mrs. Jokomina Oleru
cordially invite, to the Priestly Ordination of
Rvd. Deacon Dominic Abiriga
scheduled to take place on 29th January 2022
presided by
Rt. Rev. Sabino Ocan Odoki
Bishop of Arua Diocese.

Thanksgiving mass will be on 30th January 2022
at Nyadri Parish at 10:00am.

Your presence is appreciated.

Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald, Officer of the Order of the British Empire

Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald, a former president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, was made Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in the British monarch’s annual New Year’s list.

The honors include knighthoods, as well as appointments to the Order of the British Empire, which has three classes: Commander (CBE), Officer (OBE), and Member (MBE). CBE is the highest-ranking award of the three, followed by OBE and MBE.

In an email to Catholic News Agency , he said: “I think the award should really go to the Missionaries of Africa, the Society to which I belong, for having allowed me to have the necessary formation for this service which I exercised first within the framework of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, and then to the Holy See, to Pope St. John Paul II who, in 1987, appointed me secretary of the Secretariat for Non-Christians (as it was then) and later in 2002 appointed me president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (as it had become).”

“This gave me the possibility of engaging in fraternal relations on a wider scale than Christian-Muslim relations.”

“I think it’s important that we listen to people and that we try to understand, because it is difficult to speak about racial discrimination,” he said.


Catholic News Agency, full text of the article here.

News from Ethiopia

Dear confreres, Relatives and FriendsGreetings of Joy and Peace from Addis Abeba. I hope you celebrated well Christmas. As for us we will celebrate it on 7th January.I am coming to you this morning with  GOOD NEWS !At last i got news from our confreres in Adigrat  ( Gerry Murphy, Jose Bandres, Belete Fanta, Clayb Caputolan, Olivier Ndayikengurukiye, Sabu Punthepurackal, Paul Reilly and our 5 students). They are all fine.Paul Reilly managed to reach a place where he got the Network and called me to inform me about this.Now Paul Reilly , Belete and the 5 students with some sisters are trying to see how they can come to Kombolcha community. They are 9 people and they started the journey this morning.So we thank God for his protection and we also thank you for your prayers.
PS : Would you help me to transmit this message to those who need this information
Bonaventure BWANAKWERIEPO Delegate superior

Summit on the protection of minors – Vatican 21-24 February 2019

From 21 to 24 February, the presidents of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences around the world responded to Pope Francis’ call to come to Rome to the Vatican to reflect together on how best to respond seriously to this unprecedented crisis facing the Catholic Church today. The sufferings of so many men and women, children and young people call for a determination on the part of the whole Church. During these three days, several speakers followed one another to address different topics based on the three areas of reflection proposed by the organizing committee: Responsibility, Accountability, Transparency.

All the conferences can be found on the VaticanNews YouTube channel. This summit was also punctuated by several testimonies of victims previously recorded in audio or video. These testimonies allowed those among the speakers who had never heard from victims to discover the extent of the suffering they had endured. Participants also worked in language groups.

What should we remember from this summit?

It is possible to read many analyses in different languages in the online press, indeed 450 journalists were accredited, mainly from the English-speaking world. But for us, here is what we can learn that is important.

This meeting is just one step in this immense project which is to respond to the suffering of the victims with compassion and mercy. It is also a step in the process of conversion of hearts necessary for real preventive work to make the Catholic Church a safe home for children and the most vulnerable. In his final speech, Pope Francis set 7 priority axes of work for the whole People of God and more especially for the bishops of the whole world, here they are summarized with his words (Excerpts from the final speech):

  1. Protection of children: the primary objective of any measure is to protect children and prevent them from being victims of psychological and physical abuse. It is therefore necessary to change attitudes to combat the defensive and reactive attitude aimed at safeguarding the Institution, in favour of a sincere and determined search for the good of the community, giving priority to the victims of abuse in every sense of the word.”
  2. An irreproachable seriousness: I would like to repeat here that the Church will not spare itself to do all that is necessary to bring to justice anyone who has committed such crimes. The Church will never seek to stifle or underestimate any case.”
  3. True purification: despite the measures taken and the progress made in preventing abuse, it is necessary to impose a perpetual and renewed commitment to the holiness of pastors whose configuration in Christ the Good Shepherd is a right of God’s people.”
  4. Formation: in other words, the requirements of the selection and formation of candidates for the priesthood with criteria not only negative, aimed mainly at excluding problematic personalities, but also positive by offering a balanced formation path for suitable candidates, oriented towards holiness including the virtue of chastity.”
  5. To strengthen and verify the guidelines of the Episcopal Conferences: that is, to reaffirm the requirement of unity of the Bishops in the application of measures that have the value of norms and not only of guidelines. No abuse should ever be covered…”
  6. Accompanying victims of abuse: The harm they have experienced leaves indelible wounds in them, which are also manifested in resentment and tendencies towards self-destruction. The Church therefore has a duty to offer them all the necessary support by calling on experts in this field.”
  7. The digital world: the protection of minors must take into account the new forms of sexual abuse and all forms of abuse that threaten them in the environments in which they live and through the new instruments they use.”

These are seven priorities that Pope Francis has set for the bishops and major superiors of consecrated congregations and institutes of consecrated life, but also more broadly for the whole People of God.

To complete this roadmap, other measures will come: produce a Motu proprio on this question; offer a practical guide for bishops and major superiors to help them in their mission; “task forces / teams of experts” may also be created to help local churches that have more difficulty finding material and human resources to fight against this evil that spares no particular church or human community.

Let us make this roadmap our own.

Useful links :

Chaine YouTube de VaticanNews pour voir ou revoir les conférences :
En français –
In English –
Also exists in other languages
Many interviews and articles on