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Home arrow newsitems arrow French Regions' President Richert quits + points at Identity+General Interest, in Mystery..

French Regions' President Richert quits + points at Identity+General Interest, in Mystery..

Written by ACM
Saturday, 30 September 2017
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*Strasbourg/Great East Region HQ/Angelo Marcopolo/- The most Experienced French "Regionalist" Top Politician, at EU's Core area of Strasbourg, the ChristianDemocrat/EPP President of the New "Great East" Region, which unites together the Borders of 5 Key European Countries, (France, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium), but also holding Important Nation-Wide Responsibilities, such as President of the Association of French Regions, former Minister of DeCentralisation, etc., (See Infra), Philippe Richert, surprized many People by suddenly announcing that he resigns, ("for General Interest" reasons, as he said). By a coincidence amidst a lot of various, more or less relevant Political and other exceptional Developments nowadays going on around such an unprecedented event, which still leaves some questions pending, keeping a part of Mystery, (See Infra) mixed with natural Emotions.

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EXPERIENCE/STOCK TAKING
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 Philippe Richert, during more than 34 Years of Service as an important Elected Politician at the Top of various Public Authorities, has held, f.ex., the Office of Senate's vice-President, (something which made some Countries to Welcome him almost "as a Head of State/Government"), Minister of Decentralisaton and Territories, President of the Department of Lower Rhine, President of Alsace Region, and, afterwards, of the "Great East" Region, President of the Nation-Wide Association of French Regions, (etc).


Used to be personally involved in Franco-German cooperation, (including f.ex. at the "Superior Rhine"/OberRhine structure, together with Switzerland too, as f.ex. at its landmark 2010 Meeting at nearby Offenburg, with the then EU affairs Minister Hoyer, nowadays EIB's President, See: ..., but also with the Trans-Border Civil Society and even the Hohenzollern Royal Familly : See ..., as well as in the creation of "Euro-Campus" Franco-Germano-Swiss University/Research Integration project from 2016, See: ...), he regretted, however, Today, for "Not having done yet as much as we are able to do on Trans-Border Cooperation recently", since he took over the heavry Responsibilities of the New, "Great East" Region around Strasbourg, and the Presidency of all French Regions' Association.


=> "Eurofora"'s co-Founder had the opportunity to make many Publications on President Richert's activities, particularly on various Replies he kindly gave to our Questions and/or other Statements, on several Topical Issues, during almost 2 Decades, (among others, See, f.ex. also : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/christiansprotestants.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/regionalelections.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/sarkozymerkelforeuintegration.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/ufmediterraneanurbandevelopmentsummit.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/schaublemnacehollandecontretraiteeurzone.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/xavierbertrand.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/worldforumfordemocracy.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/alsacereferendumresults.html , http://www.eurofora.net/brief/brief/alsacenotoalcaponearea.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/sarkozyautonomousalternativewinsregions.html   , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/franceregionelelectionsrepublicanswithgreensorfnrightistsforstrasbourg.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/alsacepresidentrichertonacaleuropeanprojects.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/newbigfrenchregionheadricherton5eustatesandchina.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/strasbourgregionpresidentrichertandfrencheconomyministermacrononhighspeedinternet.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/1stregionsoffranceconventionatreimsand2017choices.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/frenchprimeministervallsonhightechfunding.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/frenchregionspresidentricherttoeurofora.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/francogermancoreregionleaderseyescienceandethics.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/fillonforculturetorevivefranceandeurope.html , rel.+ https://twitter.com/angemarc3/status/913569739565338625 , etc).


Among the Numerous and Manifold concrete Realisations boosted here by Richert, he mentioned, Today, f.ex., also :      
- the Creation of the "Memorial" for Alsace - Lorraine, the "Spacecraft for Sciences",  the restoration of the majestic "Castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg", the World-Famous "Lalique" Museum (on Crystal Artworks), "Lichtenberg Castle",  the "Alsacian Archeology" entity, the "New Archives", etc, in addition to a sustained support to the Regional Economy.


Most of all, Richert pointed at a Recent move to spread Modern Very High Speed Internet Connexions all accross the Region's Urban and Rural areas, from Cities to Small Villages included, proud to Help make this Region "the 1st in France" to achieve such a result, which aims to Avoid any "Gaps" or "Digital Divide" between Citizens, as he stressed. This Pioneer Program had been Launched in Srasbourg together with the then Minister of Economy, and Today new French President, Emmanuel Macron, (See "Eurofora"s NewsReport from that event at : ....).


+ However, at the Same Time, we managed to re-organize the New "Great East" Ragion's overall activities in a way that "we Spared almost -1 Billion € per Year", compared with what used to be spend for all those Territories in the Past, he pointed out, as far as Financial Economies are concerned.


 - Before I Started Politics, I was just a College Professor of Sciences, more interested on ... "Butterflies", joked Phiippe Richert, but, after being Elected from the 1st Time with more than 75% of the Votes, +34 Years Later, I've had the Chance to meet more than "16 Prime Ministers, and 15 Prefects", but also "the Pope, the Dalai-Lama, the Brittish Queen, etc", and Travelled around for a total of about 300.000 kms, as he characteristically noted,  smiling...


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Historic+ IDENTITY
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Topically Speaking at the immediate Aftermath of the Elections at Neighbouring Germany, where mainstream Media and Politicians observed a growing Popular Demand to preserve that key European Country's cultural a.o. Identity, particularly after the Recent "Tsunami" of more than 1,5 Millions of Mass Asylum Seekers/Irregular Migrants through Turkey from 2015-2016, (mainly Muslim Migrants from the Middle-East or Central Asia, etc, Turkish agents reportedly Dissuading Christian Minorities and/or Qualified People, according to EU Leaks from Brussels), and even of an UnRelated, Controversial Independence Referendum Attempt in Catalonia, scheduled for Tomorrow, Sunday, Richert surprized by Focusing, for the 1st Time so openly, on "Identity":


- "We have Not Finished yet our Work on the Issue of Identity", and "Today, this is the main Question" raised, Richert stressed.


 Shortly Before he spoke, Strasbourg's main Local Newspaper "DNA" had just Published a Petition, signed by more than a Hundrend various Local/Regional Personalities, which Ask ro Restore "Alsace Region" strenghened by "Additional Competences" on "Culture, Language, Education", as well as "Trans-Border Cooperation and Economy".
They referred to Polls showing that "84% of the Population" was "Favorable for Alsace to quit the (much Wider) Great East Region", (CSA, 4/2017 : backed also by Similar, more Recent Polls cited by "DNA", f.ex. of "Radio Nuée Bleue", etc), in order to avoid "degrading its Specificity", but, on the contrary, both "preserve its Past, and build its Future", by "Continuing its History and personality", also through "its Rhenan and European mission".


Richert had been Criticized by some in the Past for accepting to become on 2016 President of the New and Bigger "Great East" Region, which includes the Pre-Existing Regions of Alsace, Lorraine and Champagne-Ardennes, according to a controversial 2015 Reform of France's Regional Structures, imposed by former French President Hollande, (a "Socialist"), allegedly in order to make Financial Economies in Logistics, and Bigger/Stronger new Regions, (even if this implied to bring together some "Heterogeneous Territories, which did Not know Eachother" yet, as he acknowledged).


But, as he Reminded Today, Richert, himself a former Alsace Region President for years, had Initially struggled to Defend the pre-existing Structure, organized a Popular Referendum for the creation of a stronger "Alsace Council" Merging Together that Region with its 2 Departments (Districts) of Superior and Lower Rhine, led Public Demonstrations against the Change pushed by Hollande (Comp. Supra), and even backed a Legal Complaint against it, up to the country's Highest Judges (its "Constitutional Court"), etc., in vain, given the Former Government's insistence. Thus, he had been practically Obliged to Lead his (Center-Right) Party's campaign in the Elections for that New, Bigger "Great East" Region, (which Merged 3 pre-existing, smaller regions : Comp. Supra), in order to Prevent the Risk for Rightists of the "National Front" (led by MEP Philippot) to snatch the Top Job. And he Brillantly Won that Popular Vote, (See: ... + ...).


- In fact, "I think that we Need to Keep such Identities" (as "Alsace"', "Lorraine", "Champagne-Ardennes", etc), the Experienced Top Regionalist of France went on to add Now, inter alia, also for the "Needs to Export towards International" areas, where, f.ex., "the Brand <<Made in Alsace>> was Adopted Initially by 5.000 Businesses, whose Number recently Grew up to 7.000, (the last-one being the well known De Dietrich Company)".


+ Moreover, "We Need such Identities", mainly "Because", in addition to their "History", they represent also "a Geographical, Human, and Political Reality", he stressed.


- F.ex., "Alsace pre-Existed even Before the creation of the Region named Alsace" : i.e. , already in the "Ancient" era of "Austrasia", (Eastern Franc Kingdom), etc. And Historians speak about what they call the "Alsace of Humanism", when "several Philosophers around Europe came here to exchange at Selestat" city, he reminded, inter alia.

>>> Therefore, 'the Question of Identity was at the Heart of my Work", President Philippe Richert underlined.


- And, even if also the New French "President (Macron) and Prime-Minister (Philippe) told me that they do Not intent to restore the Alsace Region" as it was before, nevertheless, other Possibilities exist in Practice :
=> - F.ex., "we can always Merge Together the 2 Departments of Superior and Lower Rhine, in order to Create 1 New Department throughout All Alsace area, which might even be called "Alsace Council", and "Negotiate (with the French State) the Addition of some More Competences", he suggested, in this regard.


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ACT for GENERAL INTEREST/VALUES/CITIZENS
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+ But President Philippe Richert's main and longest Plaidoyerie, during his landmark, Final Speech, Today, was Focused on the Principle of "General Interest" Action for "Values" and the "Citizens", as he stressed many times :


 - Indeed, the question of "Values", "is Not a Detail which would come Afterwards", but, on the contrary, an Important matter which "comes First" of all, he stressed from the outset.


- F.ex., if "I Believe in (Territorial) DeCentralisation, it's because it allows to come Closer to the Citizens, and this Helps Democracy to work Better" : That's why I am a real, convinced Regionalist", he pointed out.
>>> In Fact, "Act in the Name of those People who Voted for You, is a Heavy Responsibility, but also  an Extraordinary Opportunity !", underlined Richert, as a matter of General Principle.


- And, in this regard, as a Philosopher used to say : "We are what we are Doing", because "Ideas are Not made in order to be Thought, but in order to Live according to them" in real practice. In other words :  "Speak Less, but take Action !", he concluded.


=> This went as far as to even ...Motivate his Decision to Resign Today, also by "the General Interest" to give a Chance to his Successors to have enough Time in order to Better "Prepare the Next Elections", as he said, (See Infra).


 - "Stand always United and Work Together, for the General Interest, for our Citizens !", concluded President Richert in his Last Message at Strasbourg's "Great East" Region's Members of his Political Majority Today, who largely Applauded.


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MYSTERY (+ Emotions)
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Many were Surprized by Richert's anouncement that he Resigns Today : Indeed, he has just been brillantly Elected as President of the New Big Region of Strasbourg : "Great East", only about 1,5 Year ago (December 2015 - September 2017), and still had about 3 or 4 Years more to run in this mandate, up to 2021.


Even some among the few who reportedly "knew" that he was considering to eventually resign Before the End of his current Mandate, (as, f.ex., Local French Strasbourg's Newspaper "DNA"s experienced Head of Politcal News, Fortier, etc), several acknowledged, speaking to "Eurofora", that, at least they "did Not Know When" he might do so...


Philippe Richert is aged just 64 Years Today (1953-2017). I.e. he's Younger than New US President Don Trump (aged 71 : 1946-2017). And even More Younger than Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, probable New President of Parliament, who has just Celebrated, at Nearby Offenburg, his 75th Anniversary, together with EU Commission's President, Jean-Claude Juncker, and German Chancellor Angie Merkel, (See "Eurofora"'s NewsReport from the Offenburg : ...)


Therefore, "It's Not a matter of Age", Richert was obliged to say, as far as his unexpected decision to resign now is concerned. But, it might be "a matter of Seniority", (I.e. for having served in Politics for a too Long Period of Time), he added.


Indeed, he has been serving as an Elected Politician, at various Public Authorities, more than 34 Years now, (1982-2017), he reminded. According to some Estimations "I've been Working for the General Interest and the Republic during more than 150.000 Hours", he joked, (counting only actual Working Time)...


Bad lack : It's just a Week ago that all German Medias reminded the Fact that his Neighbour, Schäuble, (Freshly Re-Elected as MP also for the forthcoming period of 2017-2021), has already completed ... 45 Years of service as MP (1972 - 2017), in addition to various Ministerial posts, etc.


---------------------------------


What was, then, the Real Reason for Richert's Sudden Resignation ?
Could it be, simply because of a Recent "Hot" Disagreement with current French Prime Minister Philippe, for his Refusal to Keep a Promise given by his Predecessor, former Prime Minister Valls before the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections of 2017, concerning the Global Budget of All Regions of France, which was reportedly Diminished Now with  -350 Millions € Less than expected for the Next Year of 2018 ?


Indeed, the fact that such a promise, initially given by Valls at the Annual Congress of the Association of "Regions of France" on 2016 in Reims, (Comp. "Eurofora"s NewsRaports from Reims, then, f.ex. : ...), and subsequently Endorsed even by the Parliament, was, finally, Droped by Philippe at the 2017 Congress in Orleans, (reportedly because of the Need to make an effort for Economies in France's overall Budget), provoked Strong Reactions by most Presidents of Regions : It resulted, inter alia, also to their Exceptional Decision to immediatelly Stop any Concertation with the current National Government, until this Problem is Solved, and "Trust" restored, between the Regions and the State, as an Official Decision has just Announced...


Richert, who has also been Elected President of the National Assiociation of "French Regions" since 2016, Explained that exceptional move Today, by saying that, even "More Important than hose -350 Millions €" Cut from their initial Budget for 2018, "is the Principle of Mutual Respect, Respect to Commitments, and Fairness, on which we could build the Future", as he critically said now.


But, at any case, those Differences were, in fact, an obviously Collective Issue, felt and endorsed by Most if not all the Regions of the country, and explicitly Supported by all the competent Collective Bodies of that Organisaion... So that Not Only the Independence of the Regions made normally Impossible, even for a Top State Official as f.ex. the current Prime Minister, to eventually Oblige the President of the Association of French Regions to Resign, but, Moreover, any such attempt would also be Useless, since Most Presidents of Regions supported that Collective Decision, (Comp. Supra).


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Thus, Richert really had to Explain his Decision to Resign Now, basically by claiming that this would be Necessary, in real Practice, in order to Give Suffisient Time to his Successor, to Prepare himself, his Agenda and his Team, for the Next Elections to the "Great East" Region. I.e. something, apparently, Logical, at least at First Sight, considering also Richert's Long-Serving presence at the Head of local Departments or Regions in Strasbourg's area, during Many Years.


But, nevertheless, it's also a Fact that, Between Now and the Next Regional Elections, it's a quite Long Distance : Almost 4 Years, from 2017 until 2021. I.e., obviously Too Long if it's only to "Prepare" those Elections...


In consequence, given alsoo that Richert did Not mention any ecentual Health or Other Reason for such a, Exceptionally Precocious Departure, Observers were, inevitably, pushed into Speculating Either about a possible imminent Political ReOrientation of certain key Parties in France, (f.ex., including a Recent Division inside the Rightist Party of Marine Le Pen's "National Front", added to the probable Election of former Minister, and currenty Region President, Alain Wauquiez, at the Head of mainstream Center-Right "Republican" Party, founded by former President Nicolas Sarkozy ; added also to parallel ReStructuring of the "Socialist" Party, etc), or, Otherwise, about some Other Factor, Hidden and Fishy, (f.ex., perhaps, Threatened by anyone ?, etc)...


To Dissipate such possible Concerns, Richert said that "Nobody Asked" him "to Resign", and undertook full responsiblity for that decision.


However, given all the above-mentioned Facts, several People may, obviously, still Think Otherwise, and still Wonder about UnAnswered Questions on what really happened, and who or what might, eventually, have Pushed him to do so...


Shall we ever Know ?


At any case, Richert himself would "Not make any Comments" on Politics, any more, he also anounced, Curiously. I.e. something that Not even German former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, neither French former Senator, f. President of Strasbourg's "Lower Rhine" Department, and f. Mayor + f. President of France's Association of Mayors, as well as f. Minister, Daniel Hoeffel, ("a Big Monsieur"', as Richert acknowledged), did Not do.
At least some among his Political allies reportedly stressed that they were "Shocked" when they heard that he was resigning.


So that, at least some Readers' First Comments published in the Web, already Started to Raise Questions, about what might have, eventually, been the Real and/or More Important Reason which pushed Richert to Resign Today.


But, Richert did Not Exclude, Today, to, eventually, use his Experience Otherwise : I.e., perhaps, in some Scientific or other Research, Conferences, etc, in France and/or elsewhere in Europe or the World, (f.ex. in University, Colloquies, CoE/EU events, Articles, etc, on DeCentralisation or other relevant matter), or to Publish relevant Books, (including, f.ex., an Auto-Biography, etc)...

 

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Human and/or Political Emotions appeared High, among the more than a Hundrend Invitees, mainly from Richert's Majority in the "Great East" Region's Headquarters in Strasbourg, particularly when he clearly confirmed that he's "Leaving everything Tonight", in conclusion of his official declarations, that they all hailed by a Long and vibrant Standing Ovation.

 

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Most of them, (including the current Head of Philippe Richert's Political Majority, Jean Rottner, former Mayor of Mulhouse, who is reportedly one among his most probable Successors), looked sincerely Moved and Thoughtfull, generally declining to add anything more to the Journalists who were invited at this Exceptional Event, simply by observing that "it's not the right moment" now for that, with a kind but bitter smile, full of internal emotions.

 

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(../..)
 
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Benedict's "Source" to revitalize Europe : - "The World needs Hope", Pope says, calling to relaunch E.U. via Human Rights !

Paris - Lourdes - Strasbourg : 12 - 17 September 2008.

The vital need to re-launch Europe can be succesfully met by defending fundamental Human Rights of the People, said Pope Benedict XVI in his 1st speech in France, at his meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy, who currently chairs the EU.

Sarkozy replied by welcoming Christian and other religions' contribution to indispensable Public Debates on crucial issues which affect Human Dignity, Europe, even Humankind, as BioGenetics.

- "When Europeans will see and personally experience that the inalienable Rights of the Human Person .., those of their free Education, their Family life, their Work, ..their Religious Rights, ..are respected and promoted, then, these Europeans will fully understand the greatness of the European construction and will be actively involved in it", Benedict XVI stressed.

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- "It's important that during France's EU Presidency, there is, indeed, a desire for the Church to contribute to protect Human Person's integrity, and I think that there is also a growing Conscience, beyond any polemics, to defend Human Rights, and, thus, contribute to ensure respect for Human Dignity", added to "EuroFora" the Pope's Spokesman, Vatican's Press Director Federico Lombardi.

- "Nobody really told us here that Lisbon Treaty was good for this or that reason to the People. They only told us that we "had" to ratify it, and tried to scare us, but failed", said 2 Irish pilgrims to "EuroFora", after 2 Majority Abstentions in 1999 and 2004 EU Elections and 3 "NO" to Referenda in France and the Netherlands in 2005, followed by the Irish "No" in 2008, during a Decade of EU Crisis since the controversial Turkey EU- bid (1999-2008).

More than .."224 cases of Murders, Torture, "Disappearancies" or Destructions" by "agents of Turkish Security forces", where all those responsible for so heavy Crimes still remain scandalously unpunished, despite regular condemnations of Ankara by Strasbourg''s European Court of Human Rights from 1996 to 2008, were examined the same week by CoE's Ministers, who decided to launch a fresh call "urging" the Turkish Authorities to end this dangerous "virtual Impunity" of criminals, without comparison to European countries.

- "Why not Ukraine, instead of Turkey ?", asked EuroFora a Journalist from "Kiev : the city where it's enough to cross the streets in order to realize that it's a European town", as Sarkozy recently said, before solemnly declaring this week, together with Ukranian President Jushenko and EU Commission's chair Baroso, EU's "recognition that Ukraine is a fully European Country, linked to Europe by culture and History".

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Europe's "Christian roots" and Values, with "openess and mutual respect" to other cultures and beliefs, were highlighted by Sarkozy in harmony with Benedict XVI.

The Human person should be protected "from his inception until his natural death", added the Pope, faithful to BioEthic principles defended by his predecessor and collaborator, John Paul II, of topical importance in France, Europe and the World today, as Sarkozy announced :

- "Fast and important progres in Genetic Science and procreation raise delicate BioEthical Questions to our Democracies", which "involve our view of Humans and Life, and can lead to Social Mutations. That's why they cannot remain only a business of experts", hestressed.

- "It's Politician's responsibility to set a proper framework for such Public Debates", as "France will do on BioEthics in 2009". "Religious and Philosophic traditions must take part, with their ideas and centuries' long experience : A positive Laicity is an open invitation to Dialogue", he said.

- "France engaged in Europe at another Debate on how to make Financial Capitalism more moral", and the "Social doctrine of the Church fits well what is at stake in modern Globalized Economy"

- "But, a "Real Dialogue is not for an elite of a Globalized world : It penetrates deep into the People : That's why Churches should actively participate : .. It's bringing New Oxygen to Public Debates", stressed Sarkozy.

- "Democracy must not be cut off Reason", which is "compatible with Faith", thanks to "the meeting between Christianism and Greek philosophy ", he added, referring to Pope's views. "It means to advance with logic arguments, search what's best and respect common principles of thinking :... It's an everyday need for Public Administration and the Political Debate", he added.
----------------------------
Pope Benedict's 1st visit to France looked like the start of a brillant, manifold demonstration that this was well-founded and could become true in the lives of the People : After its Theoretical foundations unfolded at a "speech to the world of Culture", inaugurating Bernadins' cultural centre, and its dogmatic instrument shaped at an address to the Clergy in the Historic Notre Dame' Cathedral, he started to resolutely reach out to the People :

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The move went upwards like Bach's music : Begining with a call to more than fifteen thousand enthousiastic Youngsters gathered at Notre Dame's parvis with overnight celebrations, it gained strength in an impressive open-air Mass at Paris'central Invalides'area facing Alexander III's bridge, attended by more than 150.000 people, French Prime Minister Fillon, many Ministers, Foreign Ambassadors, etc, and culminated in a series of pan-European Mega-meetings at Lourdes 150th anniversary, together with all French Bishops, EU Commission's vice-Chairman Barrot, and some 200.000 enthousiastic People from all over Europe and beyond : After a Sea of Lights astonishingly braved Saturday Night's rain, an open-air mass at riverside fields among Pyrenees' Mountains Sunday Morning, was followed on Monday by a Sea of "Compassion" to those facing Health or Life threats, surrounded by an endless gathering of People, whose gigantic dimensions obviously surprised the organisers..

Meanwhile, Benedict had the occasion to speak to the French Priests at Notre Dame of Paris, and with the Bishops at Lourdes, where they prepare a crucial November plenary meeting, due to take important decisions on imminent EU debates and choices about Europe's identity, BioEthics, etc.
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- "A new way of thinking about Laicity has become necessary", agreed the Pope with President Sarkozy at Elysee. While keeping the "distinction between Politics and Religion, to guarantee Citizens' Liberty", "religion is important for shaping Consciousness and contributing, together with others, to create a basic Ethical Consensus in society".

- "Searching Essential realities", (as "God" for christians), needs "Speech : "Logos" in greek, i.e. Reason", "able to shape a Community","with creative work transforming Human History". But "Dialogue" is instrumental for "Reason", because it's the way to "search" for Truth", in "Liberty", according to Greek Platonic Philosophy, with Socrates' dialectics. "Reason" implies "Spirit and Liberty", hence the polyphonic "Music" of "Dialogue", in a responsible, "well balanced" way, to avoid "destruction".

Starting with a "Dialogue between christians and intellectual or artistic movements" highlighted at Bernardins' Cultural Center. with former Presidents Chirac and Giscard d'Estain, UNESCO's chair Anastassopoulos, etc., as well as representatives of Muslim Communities, (including a separate Turkish), after contacts with Jews at Vatican's Embassy, the Pope turned towards the People :

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To French Priests : "Church built on the rock" !
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- Speaking to thousands of French Priests at Notre Dame's Cathedral, Benedict highlighted a solid "Church built on the Rock" of conscious and active persons, transmitting "a lively, energetic and sharp" "God's Speech, actively working on Human History".

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"Praying together" with "representatives of Christian Churches and ecclesiastic communities", (as Orthodoxes, Armenians, Protestants, etc), he called "to reinforce the Unity of the church", against "any form of Division", around Holy Spirit', "the Word","Christ's Justice", and "Love" to fellow- humans : Essentials which "resume all holy scripts", as he said.

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To Young People : "New Horizons"
------------------------
To some 15.000 enthousiastic Young People at Notre Dame's parvis, along Seine's river, Benedict spoke about "the Energy of the Holy Spirit" and "the Mystery of the Cross" : - "The Holy Spirit opens New Horizons to Human Intelligence .. and makes it conscious of the real greatness of Christ's sacrifice, dying and resurecting for World's life".

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Some "may slander you as crazy, laugh at you, or even persecute you. But, "the Holy Cross is a symbol of God's love", and "givesmoral strength" : "Witness of People's pains, it's at the same time, a precious, unique expression of their Hopes", he told them at Paris' dawn.

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Invalides' plateau : "People chosen to become God's friends"
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At the 1st open-air Mass in Paris' center area of Invalides, facing the Grand Palais, along the river Seine, during an impressive gathering of more than 150.000, French Prime Minister Fillon, Ministers Alliot-Marie, Bachelot, Dati, Jouyet, Assembly's President Accoyer, Senate's Chair Poncelet, former 1st Lady Bernadette Chirac, former Prime Minister Raffarin, many foreign Ambassadors, and other political personalities were present. (While earlier, from the Socialist opposition, Paris' Mayor Delanoye, artist Robert Hussein a.o. assisted at the Elysee meeting).

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But the "Entry Song" focused on the "People chosen to become God's Friends". The September 11 mass was Dedicated to "Saint Chrysostomus, that great priest of Constantinople", with his "wonderful eloquence and great courage to face challenges", who "made out of despaired and godless people, a people of brothers", opening a possibility to "become all one complete entity", as Pope Benedict reminded.

- "Reason never enters in real contradiction with Faith", stressed Pope Benedict, who prepared his speeches for France during a short Summer rest at Brixen/Bressanone's Seminar, whose Library honors both "Faith and Science".. - "We must use not only our Reason, but also our Faith" : "Get away from Idolatry", "cupidity", "avidity for money, power or even knowledge deviating from essential aims", and other "falses appearances". and "build your Home on the Rock", "with the force that Holy Spirit gives to those who let it act in them", he said to the People of Paris.

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Benedict at Lourdes : - "Become Light (even) in the Dark !"
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- "Our World needs Hope", stressed Pope Benedict, addressing an impressive TorchLight procession at Lourdes' sanctuaries, where a Sea of Lights held by Hundreds of Thousands of People gathered at Pyrenee's Mountains from all over Europe astonishingly kept their flames despite a heavy Rain at a windy Dark Night...

- "150 years earlier (1858 - 2008), ..here, in the cave, ... a simple young girl, Bernadette .. saw a Light". "The everyday life of her Family was, however, made of Misery, Sadness, Sickness, Misunderstandings, Rejection and Poverty... It was hard to live in Jail". Today, "we think to all Human Beings who suffer : The innocent Victims who face Violence, War, Terrorism, Hunger, Injustices, Catastrophes, Hate and Oppression, Violations of Human Dignity and of their fundamental Rights, of their Liberty to act and think. We also think to those who face Familial problems, sufferings from Unemployment, Sickness, Infirmity, Isolation, or their situation as Immigrants, without forgetting those who suffer and die for the name of Christ", he said.

- "But the Shadows of the Earth, did not hinder Sky's Light to shine : <<The Light shines in the Dark>>" ..."A Way full of Light opens in Human History even in its Darkest moments" : ..."As Night falls, Christ tels us : <<- Keep your Lamps alight !>>."Hold a Light while walking in the Night .. sums up our condition as Christians on their way : "We need light, and we are called to become Light !", Benedict stressed to People setting in motion Lights, Flags and Songs with enthousiasm.

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"<<- She looked at me as a Person, who speaks to another Person>>, the poor girl had noted."Light emerges from such a Dialogue", stressed the Pope : "A small Flame called Hope, Compassion and Tenderness dwells inside those who return after being moved by Lourdes' experience". "Christ .. entrusts us with the Mission to let the Light of Charity shine : To make of our Prayers an Act of Love to our brothers and to Fraternal Charity", he concluded.

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(../..)

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