France: Catholic Institute of Paris to give secular training to Imams

Source: FSSPX News


The September 24 edition of La Croix set out the plan: “It will be a ‘secularising’ formation: we will not be tackling theological issues,” explained Olivier Bobineau, sociologist and member of the group “Societies, Religions and Secularity”at the National Center for Scientific Research (NCSR) and responsible overall for the educational content of the course. Open primarily to students of high school diploma level + 2 (and, in certain cases, +1), it aims mainly to complete the religious formation of candidates for the imamate, or imams already practising. This UD of level “L 3” (degree) and a period of study of 400 hours – which includes 250 hours of teaching – would have around thirty students from January to June, and be followed by a sustained dissertation in September. A formation which FASSE has been working on for a year and a half, and “whose plan has been submitted to the opinion of the rector and Mgr. André Vingt-Trois, the archbishop of Paris and Chancellor of the Institute,” said François Mabille, the dean of FASSE: “It is our custom to address ourselves to a diverse public, including religious individuals.”

 At the microphone of Europe I, Olivier Bobineau explained that it concerned the “proposal of a complementary formation for imams, whom we are not going to train theologically.” “What is new,” he continued, “is to offer this formation to a university standard and calibre, which would be complementary to the theological training received by imams. That is to say they would receive an approach to the juridical and normative structures of republican values in a secular framework. They would be trained to participate in discussions, but also above all to become integrated into the French Republic.”

 The formation hinges on four sections: General culture (history of modernity, republican values, institutions and French political life); Juridical (the rights of religions, economics and management of religions, rights of man); Opening up to the religious world (in the scope of social sciences); Interculturality.

 Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grand Mosque and president of the French Council of Muslim Worship (FCMW) declared: “As from January 25, there could be students from our institute within this formation. At the present moment it is offered to students who have already completed a year with us. This is a non-religious formation, and we have wanted to benefit from the experience of the ‘Catho’ of Paris in the framework of a secular instruction.”

 “We have never been against a general university non-religious training of imams,” said Fouad Alaloui, first vice-president of the Union of Islamic Organisations of France (UIOF). “But symbolically, I do not believe that this place is adequate: imams cannot be trained on social questions at the ‘Catho’ of Paris…A more neutral place would be more appropriate.” (Sources: La Croix /Europe I)