jeudi 10 mai 2018

Que fêtent les chrétiens en ce jeudi de l'Ascension ?

Le Figaro
• Par   Jean-Marie Guénois

FOCUS - Selon le catéchisme de l'Église catholique, l'Ascension du Christ «marque l'entrée définitive de l'humanité de Jésus dans le domaine céleste de Dieu d'où il reviendra».
L'Ascension est un pont prisé du mois de mai. Très pratique, cette fête chrétienne tombe toujours un jeudi puisqu'elle est célébrée quarante jours après Pâques. Mais rien n'empêcherait la conférence des évêques de France de décider qu'elle soit désormais fêtée un… dimanche!
C'est déjà le cas dans des pays très catholiques comme l'Italie ou l'Espagne. Mais aussi aux États-Unis. Au cours des années 70, et avec l'accord du Vatican, les évêques de ces Églises ont décidé de fêter l'Ascension le dimanche qui suit ce jeudi, soit quarante-trois jours après Pâques. Pourquoi? Par esprit civique précisément afin d'éviter un… pont et une cessation d'activité pour la société!
Dans le contexte d'ultralaïcité française - chasse aux crèches de Noël ou autres croix des portes des cimetières -, il serait très intéressant d'observer les réactions politiques si l'Église de France décidait de ne plus fêter l'Ascension un jeudi! Verrait-on se lever une défense laïque pour le maintien d'une fête pourtant très chrétienne?
Aucun évêque de France n'oserait toutefois formuler cette idée. Dans l'Hexagone, le pont de l'Ascension a donc encore de beaux jours devant lui. Il est une institution comme en Autriche, Allemagne, Suisse, Islande, où le sens de la fête religieuse ne s'est toutefois pas perdu comme en France. Il existe aussi en Indonésie, pourtant premier pays musulman du monde mais où la communauté chrétienne est respectée…
«ET IL MONTA AU CIEL»
Mais que fêtent les chrétiens ce jeudi de «l'Ascension»? Un point essentiel de leur foi même s'il est difficile à concevoir. Au point que bon nombre de protestants réformés ont tendance à laisser tomber cette célébration en désuétude.
Tout part de la Bible. Selon deux récits des Évangiles - Marc (chapitre 16, verset 19) ; Luc (chapitre 24, verset 51) - et selon un récit des actes des apôtres (chapitre 1, versets 6-11), le Christ est «monté aux cieux» après avoir été «ressuscité des morts». Le «credo» qui est résumé de la foi chrétienne écrit noir sur blanc à propos du Christ: «Et il monta au ciel». Et ce dans sa version la plus œcuménique, le «symbole de Nicée» commun aux trois confessions chrétiennes, catholique, orthodoxe et protestante.
Voici ce que dit l'évangéliste Marc: «Le Seigneur Jésus, après leur avoir parlé, fut enlevé au ciel et s'assit à la droite de Dieu.».

Encore plus précis, voici ce que relatent les actes des apôtres: «C'est à eux (les apôtres, ndlr) qu'il s'était montré vivant (Le Christ, ndlr) après sa Passion: il leur en avait donné bien des preuves, puisque, pendant quarante jours, il leur était apparu, et leur avait parlé du royaume de Dieu. (…) Réunis autour de lui, les Apôtres lui demandaient: “Seigneur, est-ce maintenant que tu vas rétablir la royauté en Israël?” Jésus répondit: “(…) vous allez recevoir une force, celle du Saint-Esprit qui viendra sur vous. Alors vous serez mes témoins à Jérusalem, dans toute la Judée et la Samarie, et jusqu'aux extrémités de la terre. Après ces paroles, ils le virent s'élever et disparaître à leurs yeux dans une nuée”. Et comme ils fixaient encore le ciel où Jésus s'en allait, voici que deux hommes en vêtements blancs se tenaient devant eux et disaient: “Galiléens, pourquoi restez-vous là à regarder vers le ciel? Jésus, qui a été enlevé du milieu de vous, reviendra de la même manière que vous l'avez vu s'en aller vers le ciel”.»
Le catéchisme de l'Église catholique définit donc la fête de l'Ascension du Christ comme suit: «Elle marque l'entrée définitive de l'humanité de Jésus dans le domaine céleste de Dieu d'où il reviendra». (n°665)
Le jour de l'Ascension est célébré comme un dimanche dans les églises même si aucun acte liturgique particulier n'est prévu lors de la célébration de la messe. C'est une fête de «précepte» qui sous-entend «l'obligation» pour les pratiquants de se rendre à la messe et de vivre ce jour-là comme un dimanche chômé. À la messe, seul le choix des lectures de l'Évangile et des actes des apôtres, relatant cet épisode de la vie du Christ selon la foi chrétienne, marque cette grande fête avec une homélie du prêtre sur ce thème. Dans les monastères le thème de l'Ascension apparaît aussi dans les choix de textes chantés, priés, médités pendant les offices du jour et de la nuit.
NE PAS CONFONDRE «ASCENSION» ET «ASSOMPTION»
Comme l'indique le texte des actes des apôtres, la fête de l'Ascension précède de dix jours dans l'Église la fête de la Pentecôte. Elle marque la «descente de l'Esprit Saint» sur les apôtres et le début de leur prédication. Ce qui sera aussi le début de l'Église catholique: les apôtres sont délivrés de la peur et partent prêcher publiquement pour annoncer la résurrection du Christ.
Aspect moins connu, la fête de l'Ascension est liée à la Pentecôte mais tout autant à la croyance des Chrétiens dans le «retour» du Christ sur terre «à la fin des temps», comme le dit le credo, symbole de Nicée: «Il reviendra dans la gloire, pour juger les vivants et les morts et son règne n'aura pas de fin.»
Dernier point: ne pas confondre Ascension avec Assomption. L'Assomption est fêtée le 15 août en mémoire de «l'endormissement» de la Vierge Marie, disent les orthodoxes avec élégance, pour signifier, selon la plus ancienne tradition, la mystérieuse «montée vers le Ciel» de la «Mère du Christ».


COMMENTAIRE DE DIVERCITY
DOGME CHRÉTIEN OU ÉTHIQUE CHRÉTIENNE?
“CHRISTIANITY IS MEANT ABOVE ALL TO BE PUT INTO PRACTICE,” 

"Au cours des années 70, et avec l'accord du Vatican, les évêques de ces Églises ont décidé de fêter l'Ascension le dimanche qui suit ce jeudi, soit quarante-trois jours après Pâques. Pourquoi? Par esprit civique précisément afin d'éviter un… pont et une cessation d'activité pour la société!
Dans le contexte d'ultralaïcité française - chasse aux crèches de Noël ou autres croix des portes des cimetières -, il serait très intéressant d'observer les réactions politiques si l'Église de France décidait de ne plus fêter l'Ascension un jeudi! Verrait-on se lever une défense laïque pour le maintien d'une fête pourtant très chrétienne?"
A l'évidence, ceci participe bien plus du dogme catholique que de l'éthique chrétienne.
Remarquons sans ironie et sans sarcasme que rares sont les jeunes qui savent ce qui justifie le jour de congé de l'ascension ainsi que  le "pont" qui y est souvent associé.  Le dogme c'est la croyance obligatoire en des choses que la raison a du mal à accréditer.
Ce qui est de nature à nous parler, deux mille ans après son décès, c'est l'humanité de Jésus, celle qui se manifeste à travers les paraboles ou les rencontres de ce "donneur d'alarme" avec des personnages très ordinaires: les douze pêcheurs du lac de Tibériade, une femme adultère, une samaritaine, un collecteur d'impôt, un centurion etc. 
L'Eglise a figé tout cela dans les dogmes  élaborés par des cerveaux théologiques compliqués et quelquefois carrément tordus.
Il serait temps, comme tente de le faire le pape François, ce Don Camilo au Vatican, de revenir à l'essentiel, la "foi décantée" comme disait Pierre de Locht: Mathieu XXV et  l'éthique du bon Samaritain.
Le pape débonnaire ne s'appelle pas François par accident.  Aucun pape n'a osé prendre ce nom depuis la mort de principal "imitateur" de Jésus. C'est dire qu'il entend incarner l'éthique chrétienne dans l'esprit du "fratello".   "He quickly became a global force in geopolitics, setting the agenda on climate change and care for migrants. World leaders wanted to be near him. Even non-Catholics adored him."
Il ne tarda donc pas à vouloir incarner l'éthique de Jésus et de son principal "imitateur" au grand dam des conservateurs du Vatican.
Cela va lui attirer la haine des conservateurs de la Curie. "Conservative forces arrayed against him within the Vatican have been emboldened, seeking to thwart him on multiple fronts."
"His supporters say that the backlash against his views has only made his voice more vital in the debate inside and outside the church over the issues he has chosen to highlight, like migrants, economic inequality and the environment."
Autrement dit, notre pape don Camilo malgré lui entend renouer avec le message éthique de Jésus de Nazareth et non pas avec celui du pontife réputé infaillible. 
“Christianity is meant above all to be put into practice,” the pope wrote.
“Hitler didn’t steal power,” Francis said. “His people voted for him and then he destroyed his people. That is the risk.”
La flèche acérée est destinée évidemment à Donald Trump qui ne l'aime vraiment pas.
De même que Pie XII fut le pape de l'anti communisme et Jean Paul II, le pape polonais  celui de l'anti soviétisme, le pape argentin semble vouloir incarner la figure du papale radicalement  anti populiste.
"Some of Francis’ supporters believe that he is uniquely prepared to face this rising populist tide because he understands it.
“Francis’ election prepared the church for precisely the challenges posed by the rise of populism and nationalism,” said Austen Ivereigh, the author of “The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope.”
"For anti-immigrant populists, the pope simply doesn’t get it.
But Francis seems comfortable with his new role as a lone voice in the populist wilderness."
"In the Casa Santa Marta, the residence he has chosen over the grand Apostolic Palace, Francis gave a homily about prophets.
“Sometimes truth is not easy to listen to,” Francis said, noting that “prophets have always had to deal with being persecuted for speaking the truth.”
“A prophet knows when to scold but knows also how to throw open the doors to hope,” he added. “A true prophet puts himself on the line.”
Pour le Coran - contre lequel tout le monde vitupère et que personne ne lit- les prophètes sont avant tout des donneurs d'alarme.
Abraham, Joseph, Moïse, même Jésus sont regardés comme des prophètes.
Le pape François serait-il de la trempe des grands lanceurs d'alerte?
MG 


POPE FRANCIS IN THE WILDERNESS
Supporters of Pope Francis say the backlash against his views has only made his voice more vital in the debate over the issues he has chosen to highlight, like migrants, economic inequality and the environment.CreditAngelo Carconi/EPA, via Shutterstock
By Jason Horowitz New York Times
VATICAN CITY — Five years ago, Pope Francis was elected to be an agent of change within a church shaken by scandals and the historic resignation of Benedict XVI. He quickly became a global force in geopolitics, setting the agenda on climate change and care for migrants. World leaders wanted to be near him. Even non-Catholics adored him.
Today, Francis is increasingly embattled. The political climate has shifted abruptly around the world, empowering populists and nationalists who oppose much of what he stands for. Conservative forces arrayed against him within the Vatican have been emboldened, seeking to thwart him on multiple fronts.
Yet a close look at his record since becoming pope and the strong reactions he has engendered also shows that Francis continues to get his way in reorienting the church. And his supporters say that the backlash against his views has only made his voice more vital in the debate inside and outside the church over the issues he has chosen to highlight, like migrants, economic inequality and the environment.
But even they concede that Francis’ message has fallen decidedly out of sync with the prevailing political times, in contrast to, say, Pope John Paul II, who provided the spiritual dimension for Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher’s battle against communism.
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“This is the duty, even if it’s a losing effort,” Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, said of the pope’s role as a global conscience. He said the pope still reached a large audience and exercised power, even if “the world is going in another direction.”
Within the church, Francis, a Jesuit, has been assailed by conservatives threatened by his efforts to undo three decades of their domination, as well as by liberals who had hoped for even more. Both sides complain that the pope is taking the church in the wrong direction and that he has been ruthless with his opponents.
Lucetta Scaraffia, editor of the monthly magazine Women Church World, said that expectations among some secular liberals that Francis would ordain women were “unrealistic,” and that the pope had purposefully taken “little steps” to avoid engendering more resistance. Just this month, she pointed out, he appointed three women as consultants to the church’s doctrinal watchdog.
There has also been more widespread consensus on his failure to hold bishops accountable for clerical sex abuse. It is an issue in which — despite recent notable apologies — critics say he has demonstrated a remarkable tone deafness.
But it is Francis’ prioritizing of social justice over culture-war issues such as abortion that has caused the sharpest internal divisions, with a small but committed group of conservative cardinals publicly suggesting that he is a heretical autocrat leading the faithful toward confusion and schism.
“Dictators usually are not nice,” said H.J.A. Sire, the author of “The Dictator Pope,” one of several new books by conservative Catholics that criticize Francis’ effect on the church. “He is able to present this very subdued image, but people know behind the scenes he works very effectively to hit at his enemies.”
Conservatives, accustomed to getting their way over the past three decades,  speak of a culture of fear inside the Vatican — and worry about Jesuit spies reporting back to Francis.
They point to examples like Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, once the top doctrinal watchdog in the Roman Catholic Church.
Last year, the pope ordered Cardinal Müller, an ideological conservative who is often at odds with Francis, to fire three priests in his congregation. He said the pope did not give him a reason.
“I’m not able to understand all,” Cardinal Müller said at the time, when asked why Francis had sent them away. He added, “He’s the pope.”
Then the pope fired Cardinal Müller, and observers say he has since stripped the once-powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the protector of church orthodoxy, of its power, replacing it with his own council of loyal cardinals.
They also point to the way the pope has essentially sidelined Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the conservative leader of the Vatican office overseeing liturgy, and removed the conservative leader of the medieval Roman Catholic order the Knights of Malta.
When it was revealed that Mr. Sire, a member of the order, was the author of “The Dictator Pope,” which had been published under a pen name, he was suspended from the order by the new, pope-approved leader.
“It is an example of the way critics are persecuted under Pope Francis,” Mr. Sire said.
But the main rallying point for conservatives has been the doctrinal opposition to the pope’s exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, which contained a footnote that seemed to open the door for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive holy communion.
A small group of cardinals demanded a formal clarification from Francis, who has ignored them for years. Two of the cardinals have since died, but the group’s leader, the American cardinal Raymond Burke, has pushed on.
On a recent Saturday, Cardinal Burke sat on a panel in the basement of the Church Village hotel in Rome for a conference about confusion in the church. As he noted that the pope can “fall either into heresy or into the dereliction of his primary duty,” conservative supporters cheered him on.
“They matter: Catholics look to cardinals for moral leadership,” said the Rev. James Martin, an editor at large with the Jesuit magazine America and a papal appointee to the Vatican’s secretariat for communications.
But he said that the cardinals, not Pope Francis, were generating confusion in the church.
“The crashing irony is that some of the same people under John Paul II and Benedict XVI said that any disagreement with the pope is tantamount to dissent,” Father Martin said.
Francis usually lets his supporters do the trench fighting for him, but he seemed to have his conservative critics in mind for a major document released this month, in which he bemoaned the harsh attacks in Catholic media.
For a Christian, he wrote, helping migrants was no less holy than opposing abortion.
“Christianity is meant above all to be put into practice,” the pope wrote.
Francis appears to be winning the battle with his conservative critics, said Joshua J. McElwee, a Vatican correspondent with the National Catholic Reporter and co-editor of “A Pope Francis Lexicon,” a collection of essays about Pope Francis.
“He is one of the last absolute monarchs in the world, and what’s happening is he has a vision and he has time to put it in place,” Mr. McElwee said. “The longer he continues, the more likely these changes will be irrevocable.”
Outside the church is another story. Armed only with gestures and prayers, Francis has often found himself on the losing side.
Donald J. Trump, who Francis once suggested was “not Christian” for his desire to build a wall on the Mexican border, is in the White House. In Europe, increasingly authoritarian leaders — among them Andrzej Duda of Poland, Viktor Orban of Hungary and Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — style themselves as defenders of Christian Europe while barring the gates to migrants and refugees.
Closer to home, in Italy, elections in March rewarded the League, an explicitly anti-migrant, right-wing party led by Matteo Salvini. Mr. Salvini visits with Cardinal Burke and makes a point of referring to the pope’s conservative predecessor instead of Francis.

“Happy holy Christmas also to Pope Benedict, who recalled the right not only to emigrate but to not emigrate and defend our history and our culture,” Mr. Salvini said at a rally in Rome in December.
Francis has also made it clear that, globally speaking, he does not like the way things are going.
On the day that Mr. Trump was sworn in as president, the Spanish newspaper El País asked Francis if he was worried about populism, xenophobia and hatred. The pontiff responded with a reference to Hitler.
“Hitler didn’t steal power,” Francis said. “His people voted for him and then he destroyed his people. That is the risk.”
Some of Francis’ supporters believe that he is uniquely prepared to face this rising populist tide because he understands it.
“Francis’ election prepared the church for precisely the challenges posed by the rise of populism and nationalism,” said Austen Ivereigh, the author of “The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope.”
He said that Francis’ views were formed in Argentina by a Latin American strain of nationalism and populism focused more on standing up to multinational powers than a European nostalgia for a past of mythic purity.
Nevertheless, his economic critique of transnational powers allowed him to appreciate the grievances of frustrated and unemployed workers.
“He understands why people are angry at globalization,” Mr. Ivereigh said.
But whereas Pope Francis sees migrants — from Myanmar to Milan — as the primary victims of globalization and unrest, the nationalists on both sides of the Atlantic see them as a hostile, unsettling force.
For anti-immigrant populists, the pope simply doesn’t get it. The former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon, for example — himself a Catholic — likes to call Francis a communist for his economic policy and the pontiff from Davos for his cultural elitism.
In an interview after the Italian election, in which populist parties won the majority of the electorate’s support, Mr. Bannon said that the result was “a big no vote to the Vatican, not to Catholicism, but particularly these policies.” He rubbed his hands together as he added, “Which you know I got to love.”
But Francis seems comfortable with his new role as a lone voice in the populist wilderness.
This month in the Casa Santa Marta, the residence he has chosen over the grand Apostolic Palace, Francis gave a homily about prophets.
“Sometimes truth is not easy to listen to,” Francis said, noting that “prophets have always had to deal with being persecuted for speaking the truth.”
“A prophet knows when to scold but knows also how to throw open the doors to hope,” he added. “A true prophet puts himself on the line.”


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