Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

This Meeting of the Minds Should Have Been Sooner

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

This Meeting of the Minds Should Have Been Sooner

Article excerpt

Pope John Paul II and ousted French Bishop Jacques Gaillot met at the Vatican shortly before Christmas and appeared to make some progress in reconciling differences. The meeting of the two prelates came 11 months after the Vatican removed Gaillot from his Evreux diocese, where scars from his departure remain.

The cordial and apparently frank meeting leaves one wondering if the whole dispiriting episode could have been resolved and avoided had the meeting come a year ago.

Following the 30-minute encounter Dec. 21, Gaillot, who has been living in a community of the homeless in central Paris and is still popular in Evreux, said he was convinced that the pope wanted to "turn the page" and clarify Gaillot's standing in the church.

The Vatican abruptly removed Gaillot from his diocese last January for his public stances on contraception, priestly celibacy and use of condoms in AIDS prevention.

At a news conference following his meeting with the pope, Gaillot said that the pope wanted, above all, to resolve the bishop's situation. "I hope to continue to express and witness to the gospel's liberating message, while remaining in communion with the church," Gaillot said.

Gaillot has kept up his social activism in France since his dismissal. According to a Catholic News Service report, he -said the pope asked him to meet With other top Vatican officials to discuss how he might keep working with the poor, but with closer official ties, to the French bishops' conference. …

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