This text by Bernard Ugeux appeared in the last Info-PAC.
This jubilee time is for us an opportunity to take a renewed Christian look at our brothers and sisters, at the Church, Africa, the World…
Jesus has a unique way of looking at the people he meets, especially the most vulnerable, of recognizing the signs of the times in the expectations of crowds without a shepherd and the oppositions of religious authorities. He has renewed the hope of his people.
As for Cardinal Lavigerie, he too, throughout his life, took a very profound and demanding look at the realities of the world and the Church.
- A look inhabited by the Spirit who benevolently discerns the new calls addressed to the Church by the societies of his time, in France, in the East, then in Africa.
- An apostle’s look at all those who ignore the God of tenderness and forgiveness proclaimed by Jesus Christ.
- A visionary and passionate look, he who is ready to give his life for the salvation of the infidels of Africa as a whole, “as if he saw the invisible”.
- A look of reconciliation when he meets the prelates of the East invited to return to full communion with Rome.
- A look that calls, confirms and sends apostles – men and women – for Africa, inviting them to consider martyrdom without fear.
- A look that courageously and serenely confronts the opposition of those who refuse the Church’s openness to the people of North Africa.
- A look of deep compassion that invites us to begin the proclamation of the Gospel by caring for the bodies while waiting for the awakening of souls.
- A tender look at orphans boys and girls, abandoned people and victims of massacres or epidemics, whether in Lebanon or Syria, in Kabylia or the Sahara, or in the depths of the African continent.
- A wrathful and provocative look in his tour of European capitals to stop the slave trade in Africa, appealing to humanity as much as to the faith of his listeners.
- A sometimes dominating and overpowering look at his collaborators, which then leads him to humbly ask forgiveness from those he has hurt by the overwhelming nature or demands he has placed on them.
- A look of contemplation and adoration placed with confidence for hours each day on Christ, the Sacred Heart, the Blessed Sacrament, and which is implored at the feet of Mary, Joseph and the great martyrs of North Africa. …
- Today, what view does Lavigerie invite us to take of the human spaces that Pope Francis calls the peripheries?
- What look of renewed indignation and compassion at the countless contemporary slaves and human trafficking that primarily affect children and young people; at migration, the looting of raw materials from poor countries and all forms of human exploitation?
- What discernment about contemporary developments in globalization and its victims?
- What invitation to dialogue between the currents within the Church and with other Christian confessions and religions?
- What openness to differences in language, culture, religion, faith, gender, generation, recognizing that otherness is not a threat but a gift, when it does not impose itself with fanaticism?
In short, today, the Cardinal invites us to know him better (1) in his complexity and richness and to convert our viewpoint so that he may come closer to that of Christ, in his benevolence and his demands, beginning with ourselves.
Bernard Ugeux, M.Afr.
(1) In May 2019, Bernard Ugeux’s book will be published, Prier quinze jours avec le Cardinal Lavigerie, Nouvelles cités