The leaders of the principal Christian confessions in France signed a joint article in Le Figaro warning the state against the draft law on anti-separatism, the adoption of which would endanger freedom of worship.
Paris, 57 rue de Varennes. The atmosphere is heavy on March 10, 2021: a meeting brings together Prime Minister Jean Castex, the heads of the episcopate, and the apostolic nuncio of the Holy See in France, Msgr. Celestino Migliore.
On the agenda: health restrictions and their impact on Holy Week ceremonies; the bioethics bill; but also and most especially freedom of worship, called into question by the “anti-separatism bill,” renamed the “bill aimed at strengthening respect for the principles of the Republic.”
The day before, the president of the Conference of Bishops of France (CEF), Bishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort, spoke out, by publishing in Le Figaro an aggressive column co-signed by François Clavairoly, president of the Protestant Federation of France (FPF), and the head of the autocephalous “orthodox” church in France, Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis.
“A policing of thought is settling more and more into the common space,” denounce the three officials, for whom the anti-separatism bill would constitute an about-face compared to the law of separation of 1905, the state is arrogating de facto the right to “interfere in the determination of what is religious and in its functioning.”
A fear that Msgr. Aillet, Bishop of Bayonne, Lescar and Oloron, sums up in his own way: “Will a priest risk having his church closed if he speaks out about abortion?”
“Whatever the intentions, this bill risks undermining the fundamental freedoms which are freedom of worship, of association, of education, and even freedom of opinion,” warn the signatories of the column published on March 9.
On the side of the CEF, they refuse to speak of a declaration of war, but rather evoke a climate of “great frankness” on the side of the episcopate: “we must be clear and insist on the difficult points in the law against which those who are responsible do not seem to measure the effects.”
The Protestants who, in 1905, did not have a negative view of the law of separation which targeted the Catholic Church, now also feel themselves to be in the sights of the State: “it is the first time that I find myself in the position of defending freedom of worship. I never imagined that in my own country such a thing could happen,” explains the head of the FPF.
A profound forgetting of Catholic doctrine
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a educated leftist, cried out to the Assembly on February 1: “I have read with the pleasure of all those who know the history of our country, as an extraordinary declaration, this sentence by the conference of the bishops of France which says: “The law of 1905” - listen socialists, listen communists, this is our apotheosis - “The law of 1905 is a law of freedom.”
And, unfortunately, that is too accurate. The text published in Le Figaro says in fact: “By organizing the separation, by regulating the devolution of goods and places, [the law of 1905] was a law of freedom.… By this law of separation, citizens are free to believe or not to believe.”
These lines oppose the constant magisterium of the popes up to Vatican II. Thus in the encyclical Vehementer Nos Against the Separation Law of 1905, Pope Saint Pius X affirms: “That the State must be separated from the Church is a thesis absolutely false, a most pernicious error.”
He continues: “Based, as it is, on the principle that the State must not recognize any religious cult, it is in the first place guilty of a great injustice to God; for the Creator of man is also the Founder of human societies, and preserves their existence as He preserves our own. We owe Him, therefore, not only a private cult, but a public and social worship to honor Him.”
Finally, the holy pope further asks about this law of separation “does it not place the Church in a position of humiliating subjection and, under the pretext of protecting public order, deprive peaceable citizens… of the sacred right of practicing their religion?”
As for “religious freedom,” proclaimed at Vatican II and repeated here by the bishops, it is opposed to the duty of every man to submit to God and to strive to know and practice the true religion founded by Jesus. Christ.
The text in Le Figaro concludes with this idea: “We have enough confidence in the Republican ambition which promises freedom, equality, and fraternity to everyone to hope that it can attract many minds and hearts.”
A captatio benevolentiae that would make people smile if History, mistress of life, did not recall that the collective memory is often stricken with amnesia regarding the many crimes committed in the name of the republican motto.