Sunday Portrait: Monsieur Aveline or Peaceful Christianity

Chosen by Pope Francis as a cardinal, the archbishop of Marseille will represent one of the last cosmopolitan cities in the Mediterranean.

Why are we talking about him?

Pope Francis has appointed twenty new cardinals from all over the world, a key step in preparing for his succession. Next to them is Jean-Marc Aveline, Archbishop of Marseille, who becomes the fifth Frenchman in the College of Cardinals.

Who is he ?

A descendant of the line of Andalusian Pieds-noirs, the boy from Colombes-Béchard first came to Paris, forced to leave with his family in 1962, after the independence of his native country. Fleeing from one hotel to another, the family finds refuge in an apartment in Colombes, in the Paris region.

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Jean-Marc Aveline was born on December 26, 1958 in Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria.

He studied in Marseille and completed two years of preparatory classes at the High Schools before entering the Interdiocesan Seminary of Avignon in 1977.

On November 3, 1984, he was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Marseille.

In 2000 he received a doctorate in theology.

He received episcopal consecration on January 26, 2014 at the Sainte-Marie-Major Cathedral in Marseille.

The premature death of the last child and the meningitis that afflicted little Jean-Marc push the father, an SNCF employee, to ask for his transfer to cleaner air. It will be Marseille in 1966, where all or most of the life of the future 63-year-old cardinal will be written. “There is a lot of modesty here and a lot of extravagance to hide that modesty,” he testifies.

What should we be thinking?

A brilliant student, he entered the prestigious Lycée Thiers. But at the dawn of the third year, the “music” that has been spinning in his head for years reminds him of him. He will be a priest, not a teacher or a bus driver, as he imagined as a child. Archbishop Aveline sought to promote peaceful interreligious dialogue very early on. In 1992, he was associated with the creation of the Marseille Espérance, an organization of local Catholic, Armenian, Protestant, Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist leaders. Defender of the “happy Mediterranean”, he works tirelessly to raise the “big peace tent” that unites the peoples around the Great Blue. Behind a smile constantly clinging to his lips, a man knows how to speak his truth. During the mass in honor of Bernard Tapie, he was the only one to receive a commendable portrait of the deceased by local elected officials of all stripes. “He was not a saint, far from it,” he insists, under the dumbfounded looks of the audience.

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