WelCom April 2022
A cathedral in Geneva, Switzerland, has celebrated its first Catholic Mass in nearly 500 years. The last Mass celebrated at St Pierre Cathedral took place in 1535.
After the Reformation, the building was taken over by John Calvin’s Reformed Protestant Church. All the cathedral’s statues, paintings and stained-glass windows were destroyed and Catholic worship was banned.
Around 1,500 people attended the Mass, led by the episcopal vicar of Geneva, Fr Pascal Desthieux. Among those present was a representative of the Protestant community, who faced the congregation and formally asked pardon for historic actions against Christian unity.
Desthieux said Geneva’s Catholics were touched by the Protestant community’s invitation to celebrate Mass at St Pierre Cathedral. He also asked for forgiveness for ‘faults against unity’: acts of mockery, caricature, or challenge to the Reformed community. He underlined the desire to ‘enrich each other with our differences.’
He urged everyone to ‘resist the forces of division in our lives between us and among us Christians.’
In a letter published on the vicariate’s website in 2020, Desthieux described the cathedral as the ‘central and symbolic location of Geneva’s Christian history.’
It has its Catholic history and following the Reformation, it became a location ‘emblematic of the Calvinist reform,’ he said.
While acknowledging that the return of the Catholic Mass to the cathedral was a cause for rejoicing, Desthieux cautioned against ‘triumphalism,’ as well as any language suggesting that Catholics were looking to ‘take over’ the building.
Source: Catholic News Agency