France: wearing of the cassock banned in the name of secularism

Source: FSSPX News


Five Catholic chaplains have found themselves refused access to high schools in the Var, France, since the start of this academic year. On October 5, the principal of the high school Dumont d’Urville of Toulon banned Fr. Antoine Galland, a priest of the Communauté Saint Martin, from entering his establishment for wearing a cassock, in the name of the law against conspicuous religious symbols.

Even though, in principle, this law does not apply to teachers, the direction of the school decided to act so as not to provoke the pupils who have to submit to the new requirements of secularism. The exclusion of the priest was upheld by the Secondary School Teachers Union (SNES). “Some pupils can not understand why they are obliged to remove their veil, when the priest can keep his cassock. Let him come and do his work (sic) keeping a certain reserve,” affirmed a teacher at the high school of Toulon. “A priest in a cassock in my school does not bother me personally, on condition that they don’t pick a quarrel over the wearing of a veil,” said a pupil. The board of directors at Dumont d’Urville school will meet on November 9 to give their verdict on the chaplain’s case. But as a last resort, the decision will fall to the president of the academy of Nice.

The Toulon case is not an isolated one, reported Var Matin in its October 6 issue. It is, in fact, the fifth instance since the beginning of the academic year. Each time, the diocese finds itself confronted with “unilateral decisions, without consultation with heads of chaplaincies, consultation which is provided for by law and reiterated time and time again by legislation,” objected Bishop Dominique Rey. “We are amazed at such an attitude,” added the bishop of Toulon. “A ministerial circular specified in 1988 that the creation of the chaplaincy service in no way harmed either the convictions, or the liberty of conscience of other members of the school community.” The diocese intends “to ask the director of the academy for permission to examine together the terms of the laws, and regulations of the Republic, in order that these situations may be clarified with respect for all beliefs, and outside of all controversy.”