I just wanted to post a quick thought as I observe the mourning of the death of someone who many French people have been quoted as saying was France’s conscience: the Roman Catholic priest and advocate for the poor, AbbÃ© Pierre.
I was talking to my Senior Bible class about the heroism of this man, and mentioned in particular his 1954 radio address to the nation calling for life-saving aid to the poor from the everyday people now.
What has struck me is that when you hear the people of France speak of l’abbÃ© Pierre, it sounds like they’re talking about Jesus. Now of course, not a one of them mentions anything about God or Christianity (despite the fact that he was a priest, his motivation for helping the poor being spiritual in nature). In fact, here’s a quote from President Jacques Chirac (the language, of course, intentionally evokes the image of Christ by its employment of theologically-loaded language):
What I’m wondering is, first of all, when will Christians start to realize that to live as Christ did is the best way to evangelize and make a difference in the world? and second, is the life of abbÃ© Pierre actually going to make a difference in the public life of France (and perhaps Western Europe)? As I said, it was weird to hear people speak of this man in such an irreligious way. Is this cause for despair, or is his life a cause for hope for Christianity in Europe?