French Violence Prompts an Appeal From Bishops

Call for Reflection After Another Night of Civil Unrest

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LOURDES, France, NOV. 6, 2005 ( The French bishops’ conference has called for reflection on the origin of the violence that has shaken the country’s urban centers.

The worst incidents took place late Saturday and early today, when 1,300 cars were set on fire, as well as schools, gymnasiums, stores, workshops and public equipment. It was the 10th straight night of violence in the country. Some 350 people were arrested.

Archbishop Jean-Pierre Ricard, president of the French episcopal conference, which is meeting in Lourdes, issued a statement to express the bishops’ concern «in the face of the acts of violence and destruction.»

«Groups of youths during the night confront the forces of law and arouse fear,» said the text of the archbishop of Bordeaux.

«The media’s images of these events have a strong impact on public opinion and create mistrust among the different components of the population,» it observed. «We must ask ourselves what these whirlwinds of violence can engender in our large populations.

«Recent urbanization, employment difficulties for young people, and the instability of family life are often mentioned. But we believe that repression and incitement to collective fear are not an answer to the degree of dramatic tensions of our society.»

The document highlighted «all the work that associations and institutions do daily to create bonds of solidarity in favor of joint fraternal coexistence.»

«The schools, the different entities of formation, educators and social leaders must feel supported by us all,» insisted the bishops.

The statement added that it «is vital to open to these new generations, who often lack hope, a future of freedom, dignity and respect of the other.»

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