At the St Louis Mass celebrated on Friday 25 August, the new Bishop of Port-Louis, Bishop Jean Michaël Durhône, emphasised human dignity in his homily. He also spoke of the partnership between the State and the Church and the importance of a good relationship.
Bishop Durhône also stressed the fact that the Church is not part of the State, but that on the contrary, the Church is fully involved in working for the well-being of the people. However, he explained that the Church is willing to support projects in cooperation with the State to help the population.
Several prominent figures were present at the St-Louis Mass held at St-Louis Cathedral in Port-Louis. In a rare move, MPs Latour, David and Bérenger delivered the universal prayer.
Here is his homily in full:
Homily (August 25, 2023)
Since my appointment and ordination, I have witnessed the fraternal support of Catholics, brothers and sisters from other communities and religions. I would also like to underline the support of the country’s civil authorities, the various public services, as well as the words of encouragement received from men and women involved in the social, economic and political life of the country.
As I become and learn to be a bishop, I realize the importance of the relationship between Church and State. I would also like to thank the journalists from MBC and private radio stations, as well as those from the printed media, who gave extensive coverage to this event. Through your commitment, people from Agaléga, Rodrigues and other countries around the world were able to follow this high point in the life of the Church and Mauritian society. I would like to thank each and every one of you for your professionalism and dedication.
On this feast of Saint Louis, politician and king of France who loved Christ and followed him as a disciple, it is good for us to remind ourselves of the way in which the Church understands its relationship with the State and any government of today and tomorrow.
This relationship can be expressed in three ways:
- To be at the service of human dignity;
- Living in responsible partnership
- Discerning signs of hope.
Serving human dignity
The Church, like the State, is at the service of the Mauritian people. Kan nou mett nou au servis, nou pou viv sa servis la dan enn fason. Sa fason la pou montrer nou kouma nou viv avek sak sitwayen morisien ici a Maurice, Agalega, Chagos et Rodrigues.
St Louis made himself the servant of every human being. Mem si St Louis ti enn le rwa ki viv dan enne sato, li ti pran kont bann pli pov. Kan St Louis ti guett enn dimounn, li pa trouv dabor so fonction, so rang dan la sosiete, me enn dimounn avan tou. Behind his function or position, ena the person first. Enn zour mo pou nepli levek de Port-Louis, mo responsabilité pou termine, me mo dignité en tant ki enn humain pou reste.
Our social dignity is for a time. This position or function ends at some point. Li koumsa aussi dans la vie politique. Enn moment dan lavi enn dimounn, li arrive okip bann poste bien haut au niveau enn l’Etat/ enn pays. Me enn zour, pour différentes raisons, responsabilité la arrete mais so dignité pas enleve. Nou tou ne parey ek mort parey. Nou vinn lor la terre sans linz, sans grand kitchose et enn zour, nou pou alle et nou kit tou sa la.
Human dignity transcends any social function, so every human being deserves the same respect and consideration. This dignity is freely given to us by God, because in Jesus Christ, God became man and gave weight and inestimable value to the life of every human being. The Church, like the State, is at the service of this human dignity, which reminds us of the equal value of every citizen in our society. Promoting the dignity of every citizen leads us to live out the partnership between Church and State.
Living a responsible partnership
The Church is committed to working with the State and all governments on social issues such as free education and poverty. On Sunday August 20, Cardinal Maurice Piat recalled this fruitful partnership between the Church and the State in relation to social housing, for children with disabilities, in the rehabilitation of drug addicts where we welcome the Prime Minister’s words to define drug addiction, people addicted to drugs, as sick people, thus respecting their human dignity and kouma mo tende parfois, “guett sa zenn, li tombe dans la drog, lisien pli bon ki li – less zott mort kouma enn lisien”. These are degrading words that do not respect the dignity of these young people or adults destroyed by drugs, and by the same token, their families, their children and their parents.
This fruitful collaboration was experienced during Covid-19, when Caritas services and state agencies were close to the poorest in our society.
With mutual respect and responsibility, the Church and the State want to serve the people to whom we are attached. This responsible partnership helps us to discern signs of hope.
Discerning signs of hope
King Solomon did not ask for wealth, but I can see in Solomon’s decision to take the kouma in the rwa. Anou discerne ki bann signes lesperans dans relation l’Eglise ek l’Etat. Lesperans se pa ouvert la main et attendan ki le bien à accomplir pou tomb disiel. Me ensam nou rod le bien de la population mauricienne – ensam nou konstrir enn pays kott sak citoyen senti li here et ki personne pa senti li citoyen 2e ou 3e classe.
Akoz sa mem, kan bann disip dir Zezi ki zott empess enn dimounn ki pe fer bon travail en so nom, Zezi dir zott ” Seki pa contre nous li are nou “. Zezi servi sa langaz la pou dir nou ki nou ena pou discerner, c’est-à-dire, reflessi et azir ensam pou le bien tou mauricien. The Church is not against the State or any government that is in place today and tomorrow. Kan zot ti vinn l’ordination, enn moment deux diacres ti tini la Parole de Dieu lor mo la tête. Ki fer? The Bishop puts himself under the authority of the Word of God to work for the betterment of people’s lives on earth. The Church finds signs of hope in being happy to support a project on drug addiction in the name of the dignity of the person and families affected by evil.
The Church is happy to support any educational project in partnership with the State to care for children and young people who are failing at school. What hope if, in our country, every Mauritian child left primary school with a Grade 6, PSAC, knowing how to read, write and count!
Differences between the Church and the State can sometimes arise. In any partnership, there are differences of opinion and points of view. But with respect for each other and in dialogue, we will build a Mauritian society that is more fraternal, more righteous and more supportive of the weakest. Amen.