US News Denis Pelletier: "Faced with the attacks, the brotherhood of Catholics is a political project"

20:20  01 november  2020
20:20  01 november  2020 Source:   liberation.fr

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When political activity comes up against moral principles that do not admit of exception, compromise or derogation, the Catholic commitment becomes more It would be a mistake to confuse the proper autonomy exercised by Catholics in political life with the claim of a principle that prescinds from the

Elizabeth made sure that the Church was still under her authority, _ politically dangerous forms of Protestantism in Europe. By 1585 the Catholic plots and the dangers of Catholic foreign _ had changed people’s feelings. Most English people believed that to be a Catholic was

Devant la basilique Notre-Dame de l'Assomption, à Nice, samedi. © VALERY HACHE In front of the Notre-Dame de l'Assomption basilica, in Nice, Saturday. For the sociologist, a specialist in Catholicism, the bishops of France reacted remarkably to the attack on Nice by putting themselves "on the side of peace".

Director of studies at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Denis Pelletier is a specialist in the history and sociology of Catholicism. In his view, the reaction of the French episcopate to the tragedy of the Nice attack is conducive to maintaining a precious interreligious dialogue in the face of the proposed division that motivates the Islamist attacks.

Do you consider that the Nice attack was directed more directly against the Catholic Church than against the Republic?

I obviously do not know the motives of the killer but I would not distinguish between the two, because in the terrorism which is carried out in the name of Islam, the West is confused with Christianity. There are historical reasons for this: Colonization took place in the name of the Christian West. In the discourse of radical Islamism, we assimilate the French democratic tradition and Christianity. And we also attack "bad Muslims", who accept Republican culture.

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Father Brown is a plump, moon- faced Roman Catholic priest from Essex, apparently vague (a) and harmless, never separated from his large black umbrella and several brown paper parcels tied up with a string. In fact Father Brown is a master of detection (b) as Chesterton showed in forty-nine stories.

When we attack successively Samuel Paty, a history teacher in a college - place of construction of a shared secular ideal - then believers in a basilica, it is because we are trying to destroy places who, each in their place, participate in French-style democracy. Indeed, what is specific to secularism is the way in which religions have been linked to the construction of the republican model, through a struggle and the compromises they have had to accept.

Is the fact that the attack specifically targeted the Basilica of Nice significant?

I don't believe so. The meaning of the attack is that any church, any person can be targeted. One sacristan, two faithful: these are ordinary people who have been killed, solely because they belong to Catholicism. Victim of the attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in the summer of 2016, Father Hamel was also a modest person, but he was a priest, who is more involved in interreligious dialogue. In Nice, the violence is the same, but we have taken a step forward in its meaning.

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Members of the Catholic Church have been active in the elections of the United States since the mid 19th century. The United States has never had religious parties (unlike much of the world, especially in Europe and Latin America).

To simplify the British political history, it has essentially been a struggle to shift political power and accountability from the all-powerful king to the national parliament that was increasingly representative of ordinary people and accountable to ordinary people. There have been many milestones along this

Do you fear a tension of Catholics in the face of Muslims?

The bishops reacted to the attack by siding with peace and dialogue between believers. They distinguished the crime, committed in the name of Islam, from the Muslim religion itself. The president of the bishops' conference quoted on Twitter passages from the “Beatitudes” on peace. The Bishop of Nice highlighted the pain of Catholics but also that of Muslims. The Archbishop of Rouen said he did not understand that a believer could "love God and kill his brothers".

This relationship with fraternity is essential. We know well that historically religion has produced violence, and that the Church has been part of it. But for more than a century, and especially in the face of secularism, Catholicism has worked to break the link between religion and violence. This concern is widely shared both by the French episcopate and by the faithful. It nurtures a strong investment in interreligious dialogue, where Catholics play a leading role. It requires overcoming the deep gaps between theologies and between beliefs. These exchanges are therefore organized around shared fundamentals, peace, respect for others, human fraternity. Of course, this does not go without pain or tension, and proselytism did not magically disappear. But we share the idea that this cannot be done at any cost.

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However, Ferdinand’s political ambitions in the Central Europe and his military alliance with the Spanish branch of the Habsburg house provoked the revolt of the Protestant states of Europe followed by the Roman Catholic France as a traditional Habsburg’s enemy.

Does this apply to the most conservative Catholic fringes?

There is on the fringes of Catholicism an identity current, reactionary, often close to the extreme right, which sees in these attacks the mark of a war of Islam against Christianity. This conviction is supported by the persecutions of which Christians are victims in various parts of the world, and in particular by the situation of Christians in the East. This speech is not specific to Catholics. He found relays clearly visible outside the Church, from Marine Le Pen to Eric Zemmour and a few others. Catholicism is indeed part of our common historical heritage, as is the secularism that was built by combating it. The secularism-Catholicism couple can thus be exploited by people who make it the basis of a "French identity" that Islam would seek to destroy.

This imaginary of the religious war is disastrous for democracy. To say this is not to downplay the terrorist violence perpetrated in the name of Islam. This reminds us that one of the goals of current terrorism is to stop Democrats from talking to each other.

Will the speech of peace of the episcopate and of the other faithful be enough in the face of this?

The rejection of violence, carried by the great majority of Catholics like other citizens, is deeply political, like a response to terrorism whose well-understood objective is to weaken the democrats by dividing them: to mount the defenders of secularism one against another, Catholics against each other, religions against each other. This shared refusal to enter into a logic of violence, despite disagreements on conceptions of secularism or ways of believing, explains why French society is reacting for the time being rather well to such events. What was very interesting after Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray was the Mass attended by leaders of all religious denominations, Freemasons and government officials of the secular Republic. Brotherhood is not kindness, it is a political project.

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This is interesting!