Why is Macron courting the Church?

Some strange things are happening in the Church these days … Those who should be protecting her doctrines and peoples are feeding them to the dogs; whilst outsiders are unexpectedly coming to her aid!


By Samuel Gregg

Macron wants Catholics to be more involved in public life. Could France’s secular settlement be under threat?

For a few days this month, France experienced a relapse into the type of anti-Catholic rhetoric that, 100 years ago, would have thrilled half the country and infuriated everyone else.

Laurence Rossignol, the former Socialist government minister, denounced Catholics for trying to restrict access to IVF and abortion, and seeking to stop euthanasia’s legalisation. Her comments paled, however, in comparison to the hard Left’s former presidential candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. He accused President Emmanuel Macron of behaving like a “little priest”. Across the country, Twitter erupted with denunciations of any rapprochement between L’État et L’Église.

The spark for these charged remarks was Macron’s decision to deliver a speech to French Catholic bishops and more than 400 Catholic leaders at the Collège des Bernardins, the centre of Catholic intellectual life in Paris.

Macron isn’t the first president of the Fifth Republic to engage with Catholic bishops in a public setting. Nicolas Sarkozy, for example, formally welcomed Catholic hierarchs to the Élysée several times and invariably referred positively to France’s Catholic heritage.

What made Macron’s address different was that he actively encouraged French Catholics to participate in French life as Catholics. He even identified three “gifts” which Catholics could offer France.

The first was sagesse: the Church’s centuries-old depository of wisdom, particularly about questions of human life. Catholics, Macron indicated, shouldn’t be afraid to express their insights into these matters. “You consider,” he said matter-of-factly, “that our duty is to protect life, particularly when that life is defenceless.”

The second gift was l’engagement. According to Macron, the Church challenges the relativism and nihilism burdening French society. But, he added, Catholic engagement is also reflected in the Church’s extensive but barely acknowledged outreach to France’s poor, sick and disabled.

The Church’s third gift was what Macron described as votre liberté. In a world lacking fixed reference points, Macron suggested, Catholicism’s insistence on certain universal truths gave it the freedom to speak about topics that others find irritating, such as the duties that people owe each other, the challenges posed by Islam and the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

All this was set against a backdrop of Macron listing numerous contributions made by Catholics over the centuries to French culture. Pointedly, he linked the name of Fr Jacques Hamel, executed in 2016 by two Muslim terrorists, to the Catholic police officer Lt Col Arnaud Beltrame, also murdered by a jihadist after exchanging places with a hostage at a supermarket in southern France last month.

But the question consuming commentators after Macron’s speech was: why?

[Read on at the CATHOLIC HERALD]


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1 Response to Why is Macron courting the Church?

  1. Mary Salmond says:

    I have no clue why Macron addressed the bishops or acknowledged the 3 qualities of the church that distinquish us from others. But I’d say its the step in the right direction for France. I can’t imagine who he has talked, but if he is enlightened by the CC and its universal truth, it’s about time a leader in France looks to it and gets out of the depths it has been in for some time. Other European countries might want to do the same.


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