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Interview With Archbishop of Paris

By Anita Bourdin

ROME, DEC. 7, 2007 (Zenit) - The archbishop of Paris received the decision of Benedict XVI to elevate him to cardinal as an invitation to a more intense commitment to serve the Church.

Cardinal André Vingt-Trois received his red hat Nov. 24 at the consistory of cardinals held in the Vatican. Earlier the same month he was chosen as president of the episcopal conference of France.

In this interview with us, the 65-year-old prelate, who is also the military ordinary in France, shares some of his reflections as a new member of the College of Cardinals.

Q: What does it mean for you to be called by the Pope to be a cardinal?

Cardinal Vingt-Trois: The decision of the Holy Father to name me as a cardinal touched me very much because it shows in a graphic way the trust the Pope has in all of us called to be his close counselors. I received it as an invitation to a more intense and more determinant commitment in the witness of my faith and in service to the universal Church.

Q: Having been chosen president of the episcopal conference of France, what will this new task mean?

Cardinal Vingt-Trois: The bishops of France have chosen me, together with two vice presidents, to assure the liveliness of the episcopal conference, and in particular of the plenary assemblies.

It is a refreshing pastoral service which demands that we are attentive at the same time to the participation of each one of the bishops and to the noticeable points of our social life in which the baptized can and should make present the testimony of the Gospel.

Q: One of the themes faced in this last meeting of the bishops of France meeting in Lourdes was the priestly ministry and the formation of new priests. What do you consider essential in this area?

Cardinal Vingt-Trois: During the past 26 years numerous initiatives have been taken in this area. Some have take root and strengthened, others have been interrupted or corrected. Despite a real convergence of conviction on the part of the bishops, this period has shown many divergences in the application.

We believe we have arrived at the time of making an assessment about these initiatives and of sharing our reflections on this point. I am pleased that a working group has allowed this reflection to begin.

Q: When Christ was calling you as a young person to serve him as a priest, what helped you so that your vocation matured and grew?

Cardinal Vingt-Trois: It takes time, patience and a call. The time and the patience for the call of Christ to take root and grow, and to offer the response that is due. The call carries with it a mission. What is the missionary orientation that gives motivation to youth to surrender their lives?

Q: You have worked much on the question of the family: Every Wednesday Benedict XVI speaks words to the newly married. How is it possible to help them on their path, when so many unions blessed by the sacrament end in separation?

Cardinal Vingt-Trois: To believe in the power of love. The power of the love of God for humanity, an unfailing love. The power of the love of spouses committed mutually and definitively. To find spouses who give witness to the stability of this love. To show the privileged place of families and of the joy of families.

Q: What does this new mission as a cardinal mean for you?

Cardinal Vingt-Trois: To be more and better united to the other Churches of the world. It is an effort of communication, but also of an attention of the heart.

Q: You finished writing a book titled "Les Signes que Dieu Nous Donne" (The Signs That God Gives Us). Many don't believe in signs. What do you say to that?

Cardinal Vingt-Trois: The signs are there for those who have eyes to see them. For others, they are events that are neutral or without meaning. For one who believes in the love of God, the signs abound and are plentiful.

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