To speak of transformation on this first day of school for millions of students is first of all to underline that there is no real education without transformation of the whole person, in all its dimensions. And it is good to underline this in this new beginning that is encouraging promises. In fact, what can we wish for students if not to be "raised", and as the magic formula of a famous summer programme says, raised " toujours loin, toujours haut, toujours fort! » (Always Further, Always Always Higher, Always Stronger). Without a doubt, even more exciting than Fort Boyard, is the adventure of "raising" a young person. Always further in the exploration and acquisition of new knowledge! Always higher in one's soul and the desire to do something beautiful in the world! Always stronger to fight in trials, and to go through them with confidence, letting himself be transformed by Life! Because a true training is not first of all a series of layers of learning in a thousand sheets. True training is transformation: it changes the way we see the world and how we relate to it. This modification is linked to the plasticity of the human being, to his or her capacity to adapt and to allow himself or herself to be transformed, in order, in turn, to transform the world and make it better.
Letting oneself be transformed and being transformed go hand in hand in all human realities, not only individual but also collective, organisations and also the Church in its relationship with young people and the world of this time. What does it mean to transform the Church? Pope Francis, on October 3, 2018, at the opening of the last Synod dedicated to young people, spoke of "broadening horizons, enlarging the heart and transforming those structures that today paralyse us, separate us and distance us from young people". This call followed another similar challenge addressed by the Pope to the People of God in August 2018: "It is necessary that every baptised person feel committed to the ecclesial and social transformation that we so badly need". The Church is undergoing a great trial, the revelation of the sexual violence and abuse of power that has been committed shows a gaping wound. It is a profound transformation of the Church that is called for in many points of its internal life and its relationship with the world. Michel Camdessus, a 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 insights of Father Hervé Legrand, a Dominican, they express three major convictions at this moment in the history of our Church. Firstly, the duty for all the baptised to support the structural reforms of Pope Francis to fight and overcome clericalism. Secondly, the need for the Church to renew its discourse and its prescriptions regarding affective life and sexuality. Finally, the wish to see the full implementation of the synodality desired by the Second Vatican Council. The authors propose that "bishops and the faithful should come together to prepare the future of the Church through innovations and reforms based on her great Tradition and periodically evaluated". The call addressed to each one is to "journey together", otherwise known as a "synod"; "I am the way, the truth and the life" says Jesus (Jn 14:6). The transformation here is continuous conversion and conversation.
Let us wish 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 François Prouteau