The legal battle waged by clerics and laypeople against the ban on publicly celebrating Mass for health reasons has revealed deep doctrinal differences within the Church. Here is an overview that comes via a press review.
On November 30, on the Catholic Renaissance website, Jean-Pierre Maugendre supported the Figaro article in an open letter to Bishop Aupetit. This letter was the third one.
In the first, J.-P. Maugendre reminded the Archbishop of Paris: “There is a lot of talk about not disuniting the Christian community. Laudable intention! However, this search for unity cannot be achieved in unconditional submission to political authorities. It must be done in charity which is the love of God.”
And a little higher: “Quite frankly, you give many faithful the painful impression of being only, pardon my expression, “the little telegraph operator” of Mr. Darmanin [Minister of the Interior and Religious Affairs—Editor's note], in a servile obedience to political authorities which is, unfortunately, not new.
“The tradition is old. So it was, at the time of the laws of separation of Church and State, that Mgr. Turinaz, Bishop of Nancy, castigated “Catholics who are dominated and blinded by a double passion, the passion for servitude towards the State and passion for perpetual and universal concessions.”
In the second open letter to Mgr. Aupetit, J.-P. Maugendre wrote: “Your words seem to attribute to the current political authorities high marks in the service of the common good which can only be a surprise.”
“The continued promotion of abortion, the legalization of unnatural unions, the regular attacks on the rights of parents to raise their children according to their faith and beliefs, the questioning of the freedom to move and work, etc. All of these measures do not argue in favor of accepting, without review, the decisions of an authority that would ordinarily be devoted to the common good.”
“The worship of God is of no importance for governments who would undoubtedly deserve the reproach of Saint Paul: ‘whose God is their belly’ (Phil 3:19), but the idea that this subject could appear as minor to Catholics is beyond comprehension.
“You promised during the first confinement to ‘bark very loudly’ in the event of an infringement of religious freedom. Is this not the time to obey the words of the Psalmist: ‘I will speak of your prescriptions before kings and will not be ashamed of them’ (Ps. 118:46)?”
On this governmental materialism, little or not at all denounced by the local ecclesiastical hierarchy, Bishop Schneider also said in the interview of November 24, already cited: “It is the expression of a highly developed materialism. From this point of view, only the needs of the body and other temporal values are considered to be of vital importance. However, the soul is more important than the body, eternal life is more important than temporal life.”
“We forget this important divine teaching of Our Lord who said: ‘Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God,’(Mt. 4:4) and ‘For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?’ (Mt. 16:26).”
“It is with regret and astonishment that we observe that the heresy of materialism and naturalism has already penetrated so deeply into the thoughts and actions of many Catholics and even many priests and bishops. The Church must restore the primacy of soul and of eternal life.”
A Suicidal Alignment
The analysis of an ecclesiastical alignment on secular dogma was made, on the L'Incorrect site on November 12, by the philosopher Thibaud Collin: “This sanitary suppression of public worship is also an opportunity for many faithful to realize to what extent contemporary Catholicism has ended up internalizing republican secularism for which worship is reducible to individual convictions and, as such, cannot compete with political law transcending them.”
However, simple demographic reasons should spur the bishops of France “to come out of a quasi-bankrupt posture with the State,” according to sociologist Yann Raison du Cleuziou in the November 17 issue of Marianne: “The number of practicing Catholics continues to fall! Only 1.8% of the French population [aged 18 and over, Editor’s Note] practices the Catholic religion weekly.
The profile of practicing Catholics is recomposed on those who remain, and tendentially the most conservative are those who best transmit the faith in their families. The bishops can no longer ignore the youth who have come from it and who are quite active and uninhibited.
This conservative wing has an ordinary recourse to the street, and, indeed, this has been observed for ten years as seen in the demonstrations against Christianophobia in 2012, the “Manif pour tous” demonstrations against redefining marriage in 2013, or the recent demonstrations on the bioethics law.”
In the November 25 La Croix, Y. Raison du Cleuziou was even more explicit: “In an institution like the Church, the contempt displayed for its ultimate practitioners is suicidal.”