The French bishops decidedly wanted to show during their plenary assembly that their concern did not go only to the big cities. After listening to representatives of farmers on Tuesday 3 November, the bishops devoted the afternoon of Wednesday 4 November to the theme “territory and parish”, on which a working group, chaired by Mgr Laurent Le Boulc, has been working for two years. h, bishop of Coutances (Manche).
The bishops of France meet against a backdrop of crises
Last year, the latter presented an analysis of the evolution of territories in France and the challenges for the Church. Six months later, in full confinement, he proposed a document on the repercussions for the Church. Now, he explains to The cross, the work to be done is to distinguish ” how the Church is reorganizing itself in the different territories, according to her poverty which is both growing and an invitation to missionary creativity ”.
The distribution of priests in the territories
For this, after a short introduction by Bishop Le Boulc’h, the bishops divided themselves – still by videoconference – into working groups. Some have thus reflected on missionary fraternities (“ microlaboratories with little connection to each other, which must be taken into account », According to the bishop of Coutances), others on the future of the priestly ministry and the life of the priest, or still others on the sacramental life in the territories where it is sometimes necessary to make long journeys to reach at Mass. In total, six different discussion forums were set up.
Vatican calls parishes for missionary transformation
For Bishop Le Boulc’h, this work is necessary while“Ithere is an urgent need to think of a new organization of the Church to be more authentic missionaries “. This is how the distribution of priests over the territories – ” a question that greatly preoccupies the bishops »- and the question of the growing involvement of the laity in the mission of the Church were also points raised during the discussions.
“The requirement of proximity”
If the “territory and parish” working group was formed before the coronavirus pandemic, it and the resulting confinements only encouraged it in its work. “ There is an aspiration for a return to the terroir which has been accentuated, considers the Bishop of Coutances. It is a real challenge not to forget the need for proximity when we are less present. “And the use of digital technology, if it was able to show its qualities during the first confinement, also illustrated that it was not necessary to abandon for all that” the logic of the incarnation “.
After the bishops’ exchanges held behind closed doors, Bishop Le Boulc’h’s working group must now prepare a summary. This will be presented later, probably at one of the next plenary assemblies, in the spring or in a year. The mission of the “territory and parish” group should then come to an end.