French Episcopate Claims Active Role for Church in Society

Religions Aren’t Limited to Realm of Private Opinions, Says Archbishop

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

LOURDES, France, NOV. 6, 2002 ( The Church in France has again appealed to the government for recognition of the contribution and social dimension of religions here and elsewhere in Europe.

The appeal was made by Archbishop Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux, president of the French episcopal conference, at the opening of the assembly of the nation’s bishops being held here this week.

In view of the 1905 French law on church-state separation, Archbishop Ricard emphasized that religions do not wish «to be relegated to the domain of private opinions.» Instead, they have a «social dimension that must be taken into consideration, a role to play next to other schools of thought, to make their contribution to the questions and problems of our society,» he said.

«In fact, through its institutions and the work of its members, our Church does not remain passive,» the archbishop added. «It is particularly committed to the education of young people, in social, health and charitable fields, and in the area of culture, art and protection of creation.»

Precisely in virtue of this commitment, the Church «wishes to participate in the debates of society, and when it intervenes in the case of illegal immigrants or on road safety, it does so to take an active part in the construction of a real common life in France,» Archbishop Ricard explained.

In this context, he announced that the Church will begin to work this year on a document entitled «The Place of the Catholic Church in French Society: Our Experience as Bishops.»

Archbishop Ricard expressed the hope that «what is being planned today in France may also have positive repercussions in the European construction and, especially, in the future Constitution. It is not only desirable that Europe not be ignorant of its spiritual, religious and humanist heritage but that it welcome positively the actual contribution of churches and religious communities.»

At the opening of the bishops’ assembly, Archbishop Ricard also paid attention to the suffering Church in the world, referring to the «dramatic situation» being experienced by the Christian communities in southern Sudan, in addition to remembering the Israelis and Palestinians of the Holy Land.

«We make an appeal so that all agents of peace will commit themselves with courage to begin a constructive dialogue that will finally silence arms in order to re-establish security, dignity and justice,» he said.

He also referred to the Iraqi people, who «already suffer the weight of the embargo» and prayed that they «will not have to endure the devastation and consequences of a new war.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation