Sunday, 25 May 2008

1968 - Christian unity 40 years ago ...

The French Protestant weekly Réforme has reproduced an article by the philosopher Paul Ricoeur speaking about an ecumenical eucharist concelebrated by Protestants and Catholics at Pentecost in May 1968. Clergy and lay people participated in an act which was seen as trangressing the rules of both Protestant and Catholic churches at the time.
In the article he says that the eucharist was rooted in the experience of fellowship with the students and workers. Liturgically the May 1968 Paris eucharist was rooted in the tradition of the church. Ricoeur say this act by "a fragment of the people of God" in no way claimed to form a new church but was rather about setting up signs and symbols which society could understand. That group also made a clear decision to not keep their celebration to themselves. This was not a clandestine eucharist but a prophetic sign to the churches.

Ricoeur's article is followed by extracts from a May 1968 radio sermon by Georges Casalis
"Ils clament et réclament : la beauté et la justice, la poésie et la paix, l’amour et la profanation de l’argent, et déjà le monde nouveau s’exprime sur les ruines des barricades et des systèmes pédagogiques périmés."

Trying to understand 1968 has been one of my enduring challenges while living in France and working in the church here. I've had countless conversations - particularly with more conservative Roman Catholic colleagues who would trace all of the ills of current French society back to May 68. When you've grown up in a completely different culture it's very difficult to fully appreciate the strong feelings around all the arguments. It doesn't help that I was not quite five in May 68.