On the death anniversary of Cardinal Lavigerie, we publish an article written on March 5, 2019 by Father Bernard Ugeux, MAfr
This time of jubilee is for us an opportunity to take a renewed Christian look at our brothers and sisters, at the Church, at Africa, at the World…
Jesus has a unique way of looking at the people he meets, especially the most fragile, of recognizing the signs of the times in the expectations of the crowds without a shepherd and the opposition of religious authorities. He renewed the hope of his people.
As for Cardinal Lavigerie, he too throughout his life had a very deep and demanding view of the realities of the world and of the Church.
- A gaze inhabited by the Spirit who discerns with benevolence the new calls addressed to the Church by the societies of his time, in France, in the East, and then in Africa.
- The look of an apostle, concerned for all those who are unaware of the God of tenderness and forgiveness announced by Jesus Christ.
- A visionary and passionate gaze, as he is ready to give his life for the salvation of the infidels of the whole of Africa, “as if he saw the invisible.”
- A look of reconciliation when he meets the Eastern prelates invited to return to full communion with Rome.
- A look that calls, confirms and sends apostles – men and women – to Africa, inviting them to contemplate martyrdom without fear.
- A gaze that faces with courage and serenity the opposition of those who refuse to open the Church to the people of North Africa.
- A look of deep compassion that invites us to begin the proclamation of the Gospel by caring for bodies while waiting for the awakening of souls.
- A look of tenderness for the orphans, the abandoned and the victims of massacres or epidemics, whether in Lebanon or Syria, in Kabylia or the Sahara, or in the depths of the African continent.
- An angry and provocative look as he toured European capitals to stop the slave trade in Africa, appealing as much to humanity as to the faith of his listeners.
- A look that at times dominates and overwhelms his collaborators, and then pushed him to humbly ask forgiveness from those he hurt by the overflow of his character or his demands.
- A gaze of contemplation and adoration that he confidently placed for hours each day on Christ, the Sacred Heart, the Blessed Sacrament, and that found him imploring at the feet of Mary, Joseph and the great martyrs of North Africa…
Today, how does Lavigerie invite us to look at the human spaces that Pope Francis calls the peripheries?
- What renewed look of indignation and compassion on the countless cases of modern slavery and human trafficking that primarily affect children and young people; on migration, the plundering of the raw materials of poor countries and all forms of human exploitation?
- What discernment on the contemporary development of globalization and its victims?
- What invitation is there to a dialogue between the currents within the Church and with other Christian denominations and other religions?
- What openness to differences of language, culture, religion, gender, generation, recognizing that otherness is not a threat but a gift, when it is not imposed with fanaticism?
In short, today the Cardinal invites us to know him better in his complexity and richness and to convert our gaze so that it may come closer to that of Christ, in his benevolence and his demands, even beginning with ourselves.