For fifteen months, the bishops will work on the future of churches, chapels and other pilgrimage routes… All a heritage difficult to maintain and keep it alive while religious practice has declined significantly and the communes have many other responsibilities. Father Gautier Mornas, coordinator of this operation, detailed the stages on September 12 in the small church of Bonnesvalyn (Aisne), which the municipality is precisely seeking to restore and open up widely thanks to new uses : for example, by opening an archery museum, a local tradition linked to the cult of Saint Sebastian, or by creating a light tour of this very pretty Romanesque building.
“Until November, we will collect the responses to a major national survey on the 100,000 religious buildings (96% Catholic) in France,” he explained. Then, during various visits, study days and hearings, the bishops will listen to the opinions of “experts”, that is to say those who have already worked on the subject: artisan restorers, architects, politicians, and associations. who are already experimenting with shared uses “like this very successful project of young heritage ambassadors in Mont-devant-Sassey, in the Meuse,” explained Father Mornas.
Finally, at the end of these fifteen months of reflection which should end at Notre-Dame de Paris, when it reopens, scheduled for December 8, 2024, the French clergy should better understand the state of the heritage to which he is the recipient (rarely the owner). It should also have a more precise idea of the uses compatible with worship which are likely to be developed beyond current experiments, having written guides and conventions in order to help mayors and priests to once again make churches “places of sociability” which will welcome elders from the club of elderly people in search of coolness in summer, soup kitchens for the poorest, but also, perhaps, solar panels on their roof or classes at the neighboring music conservatory… with the hope that all these “compatible uses” with worship but a little new to our eyes and sometimes disturbing habits also reestablish a cultural link with the dechristianized society which knows little about churches.