They came early, hoping to sneak into the Primatiale Saint-Jean. Wasted effort. Without an invitation, the heavy doors remained closed. Then André and Annie began to chat, in the cathedral square. The delivery driver greets Bishop Philippe Barbarin, “A man accessible to all”. The retiree adds: “I like the way he speaks simply, with his great gestures. “ Others will join them soon. Like Mostapha, a former employee of Habitat et Humanisme, who appreciates “A man who is not proud”.
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The Lyonnais said an emotional goodbye on Sunday June 28 to “their” bishop. “It is first of all a father, a brother, a friend, who accompanies us in our lives”, specifies Azeez, who fled Nineveh in 2014. Archbishop Barbarin and this 24-year-old Iraqi refugee have often prayed the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic. “He masters it well. Except by singing “, Azeez smiles in perfect French. “He is a man who listens to people”, also reports Hugues des Boscs, director of a Catholic teaching establishment, “It provokes the meeting. How many times have I driven it somewhere? He preferred to take advantage of his trips to create an informal bond, rather than driving a company car. “
Both were able to enter the primatiale, where only four hundred people took their places, due to the health rules in force. Representatives from one hundred and ten parishes and movements. Personal friends of the cardinal. Some priests also. Most were invited to another mass, which will be celebrated during the week in Fourvière, in the presence of the employees of the diocese.
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Sunday, on site and live on the Internet, the whole Church said goodbye and thank you. As Archbishop Barbarin came to thank the diocese of Lyon for the signs of attention received in recent years. “In this long ordeal, it was like a comfort”, he insisted, in his homily, “A great drama had happened in the diocese of Lyon. I had to bear this suffering, unquestionably, and make it right. But at the same time, I knew I was not alone. ”
People did not come there for that, however. “We cannot sum up its action in the legal setbacks of the last four years”, says a faithful, Michel Catheland, greeting “Missionary momentum” driven by the cardinal. “He leaves a diocese in working order, materially as well as spiritually”, repeat each other. Especially because of the many initiatives he has supported.
” Trust “
“He was able to meet the aspirations of young people and trust them, taking risks”, believes Camille Rhonat, involved in the Catholic cultural café The Simone, project supported by the diocese, and artistic director of a contemporary music festival organized in the Maison de Lorette. The latter was also able to experience this confidence during the preparation of the philosophy courses he gave at the seminar.
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“The word” confidence “often comes up in messages sent to it online (1)”, noted Marc Faivre d’Arcier, director of the Valpré center. ” He is not scared. Few bishops would have remained as he did every Friday for an hour on the cathedral forecourt, allowing himself to be challenged by everyone. ”
“Make the priest”
Archbishop Barbarin said goodbye to this cathedral finally rid of its scaffolding, after endless work, dwelling on details that touch him. Starting with the ambo carved in the shape of an open book, adorned with alabaster, a stone diffusing light. “Let us pray that the word of the Lord may continue”, enjoined Mgr Barbarin, quoting Saint Paul, “The phrase in the Bible that has touched me the most in the last three or four years”, he said.
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This is what many Lyonnais remember. “With him, we walk in the Bible”, always appreciated Françoise, teacher, present during the first mass of Archbishop Barbarin in the primatiale, in 2002, as at the last. “The Word of God is everything to him. He likes “to be a priest”. He is not a “Roman”, as some people imagine “, supports Étienne Piquet-Gauthier, director of the Saint-Irénée Foundation.
The highlights of eighteen years of episcopacy
2002. Appointment as Archbishop of Lyon, primate of Gaul.
2007. First trip of an Islamo-Christian delegation to Tibhirine (Algeria).
2010. Creation of the Saint-Irénée Foundation. Inauguration of the new provincial seminary.
2011. The pop-praise group Glorious settles in Sainte-Blandine. The Maison des Familles was inaugurated opposite a year later.
2014. Archbishop Barbarin goes to Iraq. Twinning with the Diocese of Mosul.
2016. Transfer of the Archbishopric of Lyon to the Maison Saint-Irénée. The premises welcome the first Lazare roommate.
2018. A “New Momentum for Fourvière” is launched.
2020. In January, acquitted on appeal of non-denunciation of sexual assaults on minors. In March, Pope Francis accepts his departure.