Remember Fr. Léon Laclau whom we blogged about in May 2007, when he was stripped of his priestly functions after the Church "discovered" his long-term relationship with a village nurse? Well, we are pleased to bring you a happy ending to this story. Today Léon and Marga will tie the knot in a civil ceremony, openly confirming the love they have nourished for so many years. We wish them all the best as they continue their journey together. -- RG
by Guillaume Atchouel
This Saturday, in Vic-en-Bigorre, Léon Laclau, the former pastor of Asson (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), is going to marry Marga, the widowed nurse with whom he has been living for more than 20 years. This is the relationship that led the Church to dismiss him after 28 years on April 23, 2007. It was a love story that was much talked about when Léon Laclau made it public. For many of the parishioners, it wasn't really news. "We knew he was living with her. We didn't need to judge him. He is a good priest and that's what matters," one of them stated during the big march that was organized by his support committee on Ascension Thursday, 2007.
That day, no fewer than 200 faithful had rallied from Asson to Coarraze to let the Bishop of Bayonne know of their wish to see him remain in the ministry. The latter, in a letter addressed to Léon Laclau on April 21, 2007 had said: "Your lifestyle scandalizes, disorients and is hurtful to many Christians." These words still resonate painfully in his mind. "For 23 years I have loved her with a deep, human, Christian love and I don't see how she can harm my priestly ministry." Today he says he is still "wounded" but without hatred and that he feels at peace.
For him, this marriage is the continuation of the love story he is living with Marga. Nonetheless, he regrets not being able to get married in the Church. "A priest who has been fired or who leaves does not have the right to this sacrament. But I know that God is greater than this discipline. The regulations are cruel in this Church, in this family that claims to love. God values all that is good and blesses love. I am certain that He will bless our union."
Léon Laclau wants it to be known that he has received "testimony from plenty of priests who are also living hidden loves". According to him, "many of them are more in accord with the Gospel than others who, while they are beyond reproach with respect to the rules of the Church, are very far from Christ."
On Saturday, Léon et Marga will have lunch with around 30 people near to them, including Marga's three children. After the ceremony, a large reception open to all will take place at Le Tivoli restaurant.
The spouses will soon leave their home in Vic to live in a house they are fixing up in Asson. "It will be more convenient for us to live in my old parish since Marga is a nurse at Pontacq, and since I now have a job in the Pau departmental archives."