A cardinal about to become soon « simple » chaplain. In celebrating Sunday, June 28, his moving farewell mass in the diocese of Lyon, of which he had taken the lead eighteen years ago, Mgr Philippe Barbarin did not allude, before the crowd of faithful gathered in the primatial Saint- Jean-Baptiste, on the new page he is about to open in his ministry.
→ REPORTAGE. The goodbye moved from Lyonnais to Philippe Barbarin
But two days earlier, in an exclusive interview with RCF’s regional branch – which also covered the four judicial years related to the Preynat case – the archbishop had mentioned his imminent departure for Brittany and had said he was available for the missions entrusted to him by Pope Francis. Visibly appeased, talkative after three months of retreat and silence, he had then announced that he would leave in July to settle on the site of the mother house of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor, in Saint-Pern, Ille- et-Vilaine.
There, with the nuns in the service of the elderly according to the spirituality of Saint Jeanne Jugan (1792-1879), the founder of their community, he will reside in a house at the bottom of the park, welcoming the seminarians of Brittany in propaedeutics. The Archbishop of Rennes, Bishop Pierre d’Ornellas, asked him to give classes at the seminary of Rennes: “I hope I can do it”, confided on the air, with a burst of laughter, Philippe Barbarin, saying “Always happy to do something new”.
This radical change does not seem to cause him any particular apprehensions or concerns. “My real vocation is to be a priest, he assured again. The most beautiful of the priestly dimension is the pastoral dimension, even if I will not have the responsibility of the pastor in a parish which is the most joyful, the most profound thing in the life of a priest or d ‘a bishop. In Saint-Pern, he will meet Bishop Émile Marcus, 90, Archbishop Emeritus of Toulouse from 1996 to 2006. Chaplain of the mother house of the Little Sisters of the Poor since his retirement in 2007, the latter was superior of the seminary of the Carmelites when the Cardinal Barbarin was training there.
The agenda of the emeritus Gaul primate is yet to be fulfilled soon. He will in particular support Bishop d’Ornellas to preside over the confirmations. “I welcome him like a brother. He is a man of God, who is unanimously recognized as a teacher of the Word of God ”, reacted the Archbishop of Rennes in the local press. The ex-archbishop of Lyon is also already asked to preach retreats. He has thus already been invited by Mgr Michel-Marie Calvet, bishop of Nouméa, in New Caledonia, to celebrate the Christmas holidays, where he will then give a retreat to the priests of the diocese.
But it is the Pope who will have priority, since he personally asked the Cardinal to “Stay available”, especially for missions in the Middle East. François indeed knows the investment of Archbishop Barbarin with Christians in the region, even though he returned from three months in Israel and Palestine. The twinning between the Iraqi city of Mosul and the capital of Gaul owes much to the friendship born between the ex-archbishop and Cardinal Louis Raphaël Iis Sako, patriarch of the Chaldean Church. Other projects, like a pilgrimage in November to the Holy Land, are also taking shape.
→ READ. Cardinal Barbarin puts himself at the service of the diocese of Rennes and the Pope
On the airwaves of RCF, the atypical and bubbling cardinal had still insisted on leaving aside the institution and the public scene to urge interiority: “The only thing that interests me is that people read the Word of God: turn off the television and turn on the gospel. If it is a word from God, it must be our compass. The word of God must continue to run! “