“Now is the time to leave and say a big thank you. I was a “Ch’ti “ happy in the midst of the Normans, whether in the Orne or in Calvados. Thank you for the welcome you have given me. “ In a moving letter to his diocesans, Mgr Jean-Claude Boulanger, whose resignation for age was accepted on Saturday June 27 by Pope Francis, wished to recall the highlights of his last ten years at the helm of the diocese of Bayeux and Lisieux.
“When taking stock of these years spent with you, it is the word of Saint John that I will remember: “We received grace after grace” »(John 1,16). I followed Saint Thérèse from Alençon to Lisieux and she never abandoned me ”, he said, “My greatest joy was to have served her through the beatification and canonization of her parents as well as through the cause of her sister Léonie. She is one of my heavenly friends who have never abandoned me. ”
“Reread your life”
“I would say that old age is an opportunity to re-read your life and learn a few lessons from wisdom. You think you lead your life when you’re in the prime of life, but it is ultimately the events that direct it ”, continued the bishop, who reached in March the limit of 75 years fixed by canon 401 of the code of canon law. His missive does not evade the more difficult times lived at the head of the Norman Church, shaken in particular years before his appointment by a painful affair of pedophilia (1).
“When you look at the book of your life, there are pages you would like not to read again. The tares, that is to say the weed, always grows with the good grain as Jesus says. […] », he continued in his letter, “But as Saint Augustine says:” It is better to stumble on the path than to run off the road “. So let’s stop putting people on a pedestal. We see what it caused in the Church. “
Originally from Pas-de-Calais, the doctor of theology, who was ordained a priest for the diocese of Arras in 1972 – before being appointed by John Paul II coadjutor bishop in 2001, then bishop in 2002 of Séez (Orne) -, is about to return to its native North soon. “For my retirement, I will be living in a village near Boulogne-sur-Mer, near a Foyer de Charité. I will live among the people of the countryside, rendering services to rural parishes and the Foyer de Charité ”, he said in his letter.
“You can guess that I will not give up gardening and I intend to eat my organic products! But the age being there, it is above all a question of aging like good wine, that is to say of being old without becoming old ”, further stated with humor Bishop Boulanger, before assuring his diocesans that he would continue to wear them in his prayer.
As stipulated in Canon Law, it is now up to the College of Consultors to elect, within eight days, a diocesan administrator, until the appointment by François of his successor. Bishop Boulanger will celebrate a farewell mass Sunday, August 30 at 3:30 p.m., outdoors, at the Basilica of Lisieux.
(1) His predecessor, Mgr Pierre Pican, bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux from 1988 to 2010, is known to have been the first bishop of France sentenced, in 2001, to three months in prison suspended for not having denounced the actions pedophiles of a priest of his diocese, René Bissey.