Part 3


The Marginalization of Catholics

According to Mr. De Jaeghere, the founding principle of the marginalization of Catholicism is the strict secularism of institutions.
He says: "This is what has denied Catholicism any political role, prohibited public education by the clergy and removed the crucifix from the courtroom; in a word, it is what has removed every visible sign of Catholicism from the public life of the nation. In France, this was accomplished on the initiative of the anticlericals through the Laws of 1901, 1904 and 1905. [3] It has been repeated everywhere, and since Vatican II, on the initiative of the Church itself (in Spain, Italy, Ireland and Colombia), to set practice in accordance with the teaching of the Council ...
"By accepting the idea of confining itself to the private sector, of limiting its magisterium to the personal conscience of the individual, the Church hoped that in exchange, the modern world would acknowledge it as an 'expert in humanity' and solicit its advice in that capacity. The world simply did without: the bishops are no longer consulted by the public authorities in any debate on social issues. When they do intervene, their action is drowned in the recesses of inter-faith delegations (which include the rabbi, the rector of the mosque and the president of the Protestant Federation), occasionally reinforced by dignitaries of the major Masonic orders. There they play the role of 'useful idiots,' summoned only to lend their support to a humanistic rhetoric totally identical to the media 'moraline' being broadcast on radio and television.

"The faithful are not making any greater impact. They have vanished from the political scene. Not a single party still identifies itself as Christian. Not one claims to draw its inspiration from Church teaching to determine its political line. Christian democracy has evaporated into a centrist party, divested of confessional ties, which has adopted the slogans of secularism and collaborated with policies far removed from Catholic doctrine ... We are obliged to admit that after it was expelled from institutions, Catholicism was also expelled from public life."
De Jaeghere remarks that in France, the debates on secularism occasioned by the centennial of the Law of 1905 were very much in keeping with the operation of marginalization and have even contributed to perfecting it.

"For supporters of strict secularism," says the author, "the sudden emergence of Islam on French soil was something of a 'Divine surprise' --- because now everyone can determine how indispensable secularism is, insofar as it alone can cope with Muslim fundamentalism. They consider that since France is secular, Catholicism must submit to the same rules as those imposed on Islam, there being no reason to make any distinctions among religions: this is the logic behind the law on conspicuous signs in schools, which led to the prohibition of crucifixes under the pretext of fearing an eruption of Muslim fundamentalism. In October 2004, it led to forbidding a young priest of the St. Martin Community to enter Toulon's Dumont-d'Urville High School wearing his cassock, even though he is the chaplain there. (According to Var Matin, five other exclusions had been handed down in that department in previous weeks.)

"For supporters of open secularism (e.g., Sarkozy [4]), those who claim to make allowances for the religious phenomenon, it is Islam, on the contrary, that is favored, to help it make up for lost time with regard to buildings, chaplaincies, youth groups, etc. It follows that the State has to contribute in financing the construction of mosques and the establishment of Koranic schools (moderate ones, of course), and appoint imams to military chaplaincies. It has to request and, if need be, constitute religious authorities who will be ruled representative, to favor a 'French Islam' independent of the influence of foreign sponsors. [This week in Europe a prelate said that Islam was a fact of life and that they would have to get used to Sharia (Moslem) law running counterpoint and superseding to a country's law for Moslems. --- The Web Master.] That is why it created and has since consulted the French Council on the Muslim Religion (during the hostage crisis, for example), whereas it does not occur to it to consult the French bishops, except for the sake of form, on France's public policy. (Their advice was not even requested, in 2005, before the abolition of Monday after Pentecost as a public holiday.)

"In one and the other hypothesis, Catholicism as the dominant religion is ousted from the scene. It was expelled from the schools at the end of the war on education that brought about the progressive marginalization of Catholic education in the 20th century. In 1984, the 'secularist' left attempted to settle the matter once and for all by nationalizing free schools. [5] It did not succeed. Nevertheless, the rules imposed since 1958 on chartered schools [6] were able (with the help of the crisis in the Church) to bring about the progressive disappearance of the confessional character of Catholic establishments. In these, non-practicing educators teach the national curriculum to students of every denomination. Mass is rarely celebrated. Catechism courses have the form of 'propositions of faith.' They are not required courses ...

"Certainly the Muslim presence has caused the technocrats who have been directing the Ministry of National Education for fifty years to abandon one of the dogmas of intransigent secularism. Banned from the curriculum, religion has made a timid return in recent years. (Out of necessity, to cope with the tensions arising from multiculturalism, which has transformed society.) But of course it is through a naturalistic instruction that presents all religions on an equal footing, thereby encouraging syncretism. [7] French school children are initiated in the rudiments of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as three traditions which are more complementary than contradictory, three legends which have contributed to the formation of our pluralistic identity."

Michel De Jaeghere then addresses the role allocated to Christians in works of fiction. In today's films, plays, novels and comic strips, for example, no one ever goes to Mass. The characters in films are never Catholics. Under the pretext of reflecting modern society, the cast invariably includes a quota of atheists, immigrants of every race, homosexuals; but curiously enough, there is no quota of practicing Catholics, of families or couples respectful of the Christian Faith. [In the United States, Catholics are the perverts, the bad guys or buffoons (silly priests and nuns); an image of the Blessed Virgin or the Sacred Heart is always seen in the background of the pervert, for instance, Law and Order episode after episode, by way of just one prominent example. Another recurrent theme is how violent pro-lifers are, as opposed to abortionists who butcher helpless babies, of course! The using of holy images is so vile, reparation to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts is absolutely a necessity! I had intended doing an exposé of the media's deliberate distortion and denigration of Catholicism through entertainment shows, as an adjunct to the Media Watch news critiques, but I became so demoralized I could not continue, even for the sake of research. The mainstream news programs were bad enough! This was years ago, now I imagine it is all much worse. --- The Web Master.]
"They never mention religious matters," says De Jaeghere. "Strictly speaking, such a thing would seem unthinkable. Don Camillo has no successor. Pagnol's priests, whose delightful sermons made their mark on the life of their villages and played a meaningful role in the development of the action and the characters, have vanished without a trace ... For many years now, the only Catholics seen in a film have been the Le Quesnoys of La vie est un long fleuve tranquille (Life Is a Long Still River): grotesque characters, whose Catholicism is one of their ridiculous features. They will tell you that the film industry has simply followed the evolution of society. But with 10% of Catholics practicing, they are more numerous in France than Blacks, Arabs or homosexuals. Those elements are not absent from the fictions viewed on the screen; Catholics are.

"Even films that seem to manifest a desire for moral propriety, a nostalgia for traditional society, such as Les Enfants du Marais (Children of the Marshes), Le Fabuleux Destin d Amélie Poulain (The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain,) or Les Choristes (Members of the Choir), feature likable holy secular people foreign to the intellectual world of Catholicism. This seems all the more striking to me because although these films obviously have a moral dimension, it is alien to all Christian spirituality.

"The same observation can be made concerning contemporary novels and plays. Before the war, religious practice remained so deeply rooted in the heart of social life that it was essential even in works by unbelieving authors. The heroes of the novels of Proust, Anatole France, Aragon and Gide went to Mass on Sunday. This all started to change in the fifties ... Julien Green and José Cabanis come across as the last representatives of an endangered species. Today it is over: Catholicism has vanished from the literature of our times. There are no more Catholic novels, and if a living author were to create a character who is a practicing Christian, it would indicate a deliberate choice on his part to analyze some form of eccentric marginality.
"There is another symptomatic phenomenon: the ridiculous role allocated to Christianity in advertising. Sometimes it is nice enough: Don Patillo eating Panzani Pasta, the monks making Chaussée aux Moines Cheese, etc. That is not very wicked, but it is significant all the same: the Catholic featured in an advertisement is never a farmer, a working man, an executive or a parish priest. He is a monk enjoying life's little pleasures --- a bizarre character. [8]

"Some will say there is nothing very subversive about that. But it indicates how people's minds have been prepared for the disappearance of Christianity from social life, the idea that our village belfries are mute witnesses of days gone by, that they are doomed to be added to the list of heritage sites designated for 'museumification.' [9]

"Considering these circumstances, it should come as no surprise that Christians have disappeared from intellectual debate. René Rémond concedes, 'We cannot avoid the impression of a general collapse.' The mediocrity of the official representatives of Catholicism has undoubtedly contributed to this collapse. But that does not explain everything ..." (Here the author pointsTEXT BOX out that it is the media system that decides 'which ideas, which doctrines have the right to be known ... and which others will remain forever unknown to the public.')

"Intellectual debate is now conducted only among parties admitted into the inner sanctum of 'true' intellectuals, none of whom claim to represent Catholicism. In this domain, openly identifying yourself as a Catholic would seem the surest way to be relegated to the background, reduced to insignificance. It is significant that a great mind like René Girard [10] had to go into exile in the United States to pursue his research. He has just been elected to the French Academy, and that is only right, but in France he is virtually unknown to the general public. He has no access to television.

And we have still not mentioned any authors suspected of 'traditionalism.' Jean Madiran [11] does not even have the right to have his books listed (except in a critical sense) in any major newspapers. His name does not appear in Le Monde unless he can be linked to some episode in the history of the National Front. [12] Then he is cited as a 'polemicist of the extreme right.' Of his forty years of work on the crisis of the Church and Christian civilization, no reader of Le Monde will ever learn ANYTHING. Even so, the law of silence is not restricted to traditionalism. Respect for the moral teaching of the Church is enough to place you under suspicion ...

"Furthermore, the exclusion of Christians is retroactive: while the pagan authors of Antiquity receive superficial veneration, and the thinkers of the Enlightenment [13] are lionized as if they had invented intellectual debate and rescued philosophy from limbo, a thousand years of the history of Christian thought have been relegated to oblivion. Neither Saint Augustine nor Saint Thomas Aquinas is studied in the vast majority of philosophy courses. Pascal has been shelved, along with the Fathers of the Church, Duns Scot, Suarez, Bossuet and Joseph de Maistre.

"Excluded from intellectual life, Catholicism also tends to be excluded from social life. It must be admitted that it is partly responsible for this by having abandoned a number of its missions. René Remond [14] writes: 'For a long time, the Church deemed that it must play a decisive role, that it was its duty to create and conduct a whole network of confessional institutions that carried out functions which were not exclusively religious,TEXT BOX such as that of education. Before Vatican II, priests, brothers and nuns were in schools and hospitals and performed all sorts of social functions. Vatican II put an end to that, reckoning that these activities should be deconfessionalized in order to realign activity towards the pastoral ministry.' (!!!)

"Even the universities and free schools have gone over to pluralism, and Christian unions and publications have become non-Christian. The priests abandoned their cassock to mix with the world, hoping to act as leavening in the dough. This mutation certainly had considerable consequences. The presence of clerics in schools, hospitals and prisons created vocations, gave religious instruction continually ...

"René Remond acknowledges it himself: 'Many schools, hospitals and social centers were administered by congregations. Brothers and nuns carried out tasks of health care and education. The Jesuit schoolteacher was a familiar figure, along with the even more familiar one of the Sister of Charity. All these witnesses of the faith had direct, personal contact with the youth and benefitted from social recognition. It is no surprise that young people, seeing them on a daily basis, wanted to follow them on the road of the gift of self. Once these institutions were secularized, the wellspring of vocations ran dry.'"

De Jaeghere continues: "Progressive Catholics are therefore aware of the fact that they have spawned a disaster, but the thought of owning up to it never crosses their minds. By losing its visibility, the Church lost its power of attraction at the very moment the advent of mass media communications was furnishing the publicists of mercantile society with unprecedented means to promote competitive role models against it."


3. July 1, 1901: The Waldeck-Rousseau Law in France on association; religious congregations had to request authorization. Combes applied this law restrictively by expelling the congregations. July 7, 1904: Religious congregations lost the right to teach in France. December 9, 1905: Separation of Church and State in France.
4. Nicolas Sarkozy is Director of the Ministry of the Interior, which includes the Ministry of Religion. [Now he is the President of France --- the Web Master.]
5. Catholic schools.
6. Private confessional schools.
7. The combination of different religious beliefs.
8. Let it be added that these characters are often grotesque, as in many advertisements in Quebec. Fortunately, some of our Catholics have protested against this.
9. Or destined to be sold for uses that are often more than debatable.
10. French essayist, born in Avignon in 1923; he discerns that at the base of every culture there is violence, to which he opposes the intransigence of the Gospel message.
11. The editor of the very commendable magazine, Itinéraires, and author of various works.
12. A French political party of the far right.
13. The philosophical movement, deplorable on many points, that dominated the intellectual sphere in Europe during the 18th century.
14. Rene Remond, Le Nouvel Anti-Christianisme (The New Anti-Christianity) (Desclee de Brouwer). This book by De Jaeghere's illustrious elder came after an earlier work, L'anticlericalisme de 1815 a nos jours (Anticlericalism from 1815 to the Present), which De Jaeghere frequently quotes and discusses. The fact that two authors of opposite tendencies are now in agreement on the same subject (Christianophobia) clearly indicates how pertinent the subject actually is.

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