To speak of transformation on this back-to-school day for millions of students is first of all to emphasize that there is no real training without transformation of the whole person, in all its dimensions. And it is good to underline it in this new beginning favorable to promises. In fact, what do you wish for students if not that they are “raised”, and as the magic formula of a famous summer program says, raised “always further, always higher, always stronger! “. Undoubtedly, even more exciting than Fort Boyard is the adventure of “raising” a youngster. Always further in the exploration and acquisition of new knowledge Always higher in his soul and the desire to do something beautiful in the world! Always stronger to fight in the trials, and go through them with confidence, letting yourself be transformed by Life! Because real training is not primarily a series of layers of learning in a thousand sheets. True formation is transformation: it changes the way we see the world and relate to it. This modification is linked to the plasticity of human beings, to their ability to adapt and allow themselves to be transformed in order, in turn, to transform the world and make it better.
Allowing oneself to be transformed and transformed go hand in hand in all human realities, not only individual, but also collective, organizations, and also the Church in her relationship to young people and to the world of our time. Transforming the Church, what does that mean? Pope Francis, on October 3, 2018, at the opening of the last Synod devoted to young people, spoke of “broadening horizons, expanding the heart and transforming those structures which today paralyze us, separate us and distance us from youth “. This call followed another similar interpellation addressed by the pope to the People of God, in August 2018: “It is necessary that each baptized person feels committed to the ecclesial and social transformation that we so badly need”. The Church is experiencing a great trial, the revelation of sexual violence and abuse of power that has been committed shows a gaping wound. It is a transformation of the Church in depth that is called for, in many points of its internal life and its relationship with the world. Michel Camsupers, Former member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and ten other committed Catholics, echo this in a booklet published last July Transforming the Catholic Church (available online). With the historical and theological insight of Father Hervé Legrand, Dominican, they express three great convictions, at this moment in the history of our Church. First, the duty for all the baptized to support the structural reforms of Pope Francis to combat and overcome clericalism. Then, the need for the Church to renew its discourse and its prescriptions concerning affective life and sexuality. Finally, the wish to see fully implemented the synodality desired by the Second Vatican Council. The authors propose that “bishops and faithful come together to prepare the future of the Church through innovations and reforms based on its great Tradition and periodically evaluated”. The call addressed to everyone is to “walk together”, otherwise “synod”; “I am the way, the truth and the life” says Jesus (Jn 14). Transformation here is ongoing conversion and conversation.
For this return to school, let us hope for such transformations in our local Churches, in each one of us and in the world; let us arm ourselves with courage for all the challenges to be faced as opportunities for growth.
By Francois Prouteau