Wednesday, March 25, 2009

France and the Avant-Garde of Post-Christianity

There were protesters outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris denouncing the Holy Father's recent comments that distributing condoms is not the way to fight AIDS in Africa.

The Reuters article on the protest is telling in a number of ways. The protesters threw condoms on those leaving mass.

The article says that the pope's comments "were criticised by French politicians from all parties." The comments from French politicians included:

Human Rights Minister Rama Yade said she was "dumbfounded" by the pope's comments. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner called them "the opposite of tolerance and understanding".

There is no mention of intolerance on the part of protesters pelting church-goers with prophylactics.

During the weekend Act-Up/Paris protested outside Notre Dame Cathedral using signs with a picture of the pope calling him an "assassin." Apparently this was an example of "understanding."

Most disturbing of all was polling information from self-reported Catholics:

A CSA poll for Le Parisien said 57 percent had a bad opinion of Benedict compared to only 32 percent in September 2008. A separate IFOP poll for the Journal du Dimanche newspaper found 43 percent of French Catholics want him to leave.

The article reports that "France is traditionally a Catholic country, although less than 10 percent of the population attend Sunday mass." This was a bit confusing, because the article doesn't indicate the proportion of the country that is Catholic.

However, a Catholic News Service article from August 29, 2008 fleshes out those statistics:

Although officially more than 75 percent of the population in France is Catholic, participation in local parish life has declined steeply over the last 50 years. Studies have shown that probably no more than 12 percent of French Catholics attend weekly Mass, and a majority of Catholics go rarely or not at all.

So, only about 10%-12% of French Catholics go to weekly mass, and more than 50% of French Catholics rarely go to mass, if at all. Yet 43% of French Catholics said the pope should resign. I suspect that the percentage of French Catholics who attend weekly mass who feel that the pope should resign would be considerably lower than 43%.

France is a telling example of what happens when religion remains like a fossil where the flesh has decayed and the bones have petrified.


the booklady said...

It's really sad isn't it? Many responses come to mind.

A goodreads friend just sent me an e-copy of the book, The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice by Philip Jenkins. Earlier today husband had sent me an article by Fr. Thomas Berg telling about the same thing only updating the book, Don't Know Nothing. We're easy targets, but maybe in a strange sort of way that's a compliment to the truthfulness of our faith?

Pete Caccavari said...

I have not read "The New Anti-Catholicism, but I expect it would be interesting. I appreciated the article by Fr. Berg. There is indeed a good deal of blatant anti-Catholicism today. In some ways, I am less disturbed by open criticism and hostility towards the Catholic Church (by such groups as those opposing Prop 8 in California or protesting the Holy Father's comments about condoms and AIDS in Africa) than by the more subtle and more pervasive attempts by American Catholic politicians and the Democratic party to subvert faith in Catholic teachings among Catholics. It is clear that the Obama administration has been actively seeking to use pro-abortion, pro-embryonic stem cell research Catholic politicians in prominent positions in a concerted effort to counter Church teaching on these issues. The objective is make Catholics a dependable voting block for the Democratic party at the expense of their religious fidelity. The President's agreement to speak at Notre Dame's commencement is another piece of that plan.