Archbishop Gabriel Auguste François Marty’s Speech to the A.C.O (May 1968)

[Mgr Marty [Gabriel Auguste François Marty] to the ACO [Action catholique ouvrière] during May 1968, “you live the Gospel in the full depth of collective realities.”]

11 May 1968, speech from Mgr Marty, Archbishop of Paris, at the ACO congress.

At the end of the eighth national meeting of the Action catholique ouvrière (ACO) held in Issy-les-Moulineaux, from May 10 to 12, 1968, Mgr François Marty, Archbishop of Paris, spoke in this way:

The Lord is present in the history of men. He precedes us in their hearts and in their collective events. 

“Love is stronger than hate…” This last Parisian night has introduced the Archbishop of Paris to an important and tragic event.

Prayers, thoughts, consultations, anxiety, kept me up the night before making the call, which I believe I had the duty to deliver on the radio, and by paying attention to the wounded.

All of that is part of this Paris, this Paris which I try hard to discover and which I carry an evangelical responsibility [for].

What different worlds exist in this Paris, worlds which exist together, but which so often ignore each other. There is certainly the student world which presents itself to us in this way, this new and disquieting manner. But there is also the working world, as well. This working world that must be a priority in my heart, in my concern, because of the urgency of the appeals that it makes, which were well remembered this morning. 

In Paris, there is, like everywhere else, labour issues that arise: decentralization, the modernization of factories; the mergers provoking a real and serious employment crisis. And like everywhere, the most affected are, in Paris as well, the most destitute, the most vulnerable: the strangers, the youth, the elderly, and disabled people.

And how will the bishop go about listening to the protests of the Gospel in the face of these facts, in the face of [these] events?

Cardinal Veuillot was disturbed by the continuous layoffs, in the face of housing, in the face of work which is scattered all around the Paris region.

How will the bishop, but also all the Church, be a sign of Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ who is the Servant and Savior of mankind?

The bishops of Parish can do nothing without witnesses, present in the life of men, and for me this morning, this national encounter provokes in my heart a great hope.

Militant workers, members of the A.C.O, assure an active and true presence in all collective realities, you live the Gospel in full depth. 

I hope all the bishops and priests with me, that you will be understood, that you will be helped to be what you are and what you want to be, that is to say, your mission; to recognize and declare Jesus Christ in the concrete and everyday acts of working life.

I am delighted, as I said a moment ago, that some priests, religious, in mission for the Church, share the life of a factory, workshop or construction site; but then, let these priests and religious really join [with] the laity to show the true face of the Church, because the whole Church must be accessible to the working class world, to be its servant; but the laity have the primary, direct responsibility for the human environment and for you of the working world.

Militants, and I shall end here, militants, you find the spirit of God present in human beings, in the reality of human beings, with him you allow the Church to resurface in this working class world where she has disappeared; you allow that it will be founded anew.

(1) The night of the riot from May 10 to 11, 1968, in the Latin Quarter (Ed).